[Federal Register: September 30, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 188)]
[Page 50237-50239]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2009-N0117; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Ouachita Parish, LA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: draft comprehensive conservation plan 
and environmental assessment; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan and 
environmental assessment (Draft CCP/EA) for Black Bayou Lake National 
Wildlife Refuge (Black Bayou Lake NWR) for public review and comment. 
In this Draft CCP/EA, we describe the alternative we propose to use to 
manage this refuge for the 15 years following approval of the final 

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by October 30, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Send comments, questions, and requests for information to: 
Ms. Tina Chouinard, Refuge Planner, Fish and Wildlife Service, 6772 
Highway 76 South, Stanton, TN 38069, or by e-mail to: tina_
chouinard@fws.gov. The Draft CCP/EA is available on compact disk or in 
hard copy. The Draft CCP/EA may also be accessed and downloaded from 
the Service's Internet Site: http://southeast.fws.gov/planning.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Tina Chouinard; telephone: 731-



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Black Bayou Lake 
NWR. We started the process through a notice in the Federal Register on 
May 8, 2008 (73 FR 26139).


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Improvement Act), which amended the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, requires us to 
develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose for 
developing a CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year strategy 
for achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward the mission of 
the National Wildlife Refuge System, consistent with sound principles 
of fish and wildlife management, conservation, legal mandates, and our 
policies. In addition to outlining broad management direction on 
conserving wildlife and their habitats, CCPs identify wildlife-
dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, including 
opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will 
review and update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with 
the Improvement Act.
    Black Bayou Lake NWR is a unit of the North Louisiana National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex. Other refuges in the Complex include: 
D'Arbonne, Upper Ouachita, Handy Brake, and Red River, and the 
Louisiana Wetlands Management District. Each refuge has unique issues 
and has had separate planning efforts and public involvement.
    Black Bayou Lake NWR, established in 1997, is 3 miles north of the 
city of Monroe, just east of Highway 165 in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana. 
It contains 4,522 acres of wetland, bottomland hardwood, and upland 
mixed pine/

[[Page 50238]]

hardwood habitats. Although the suburban sprawl of the city of Monroe 
abuts much of its boundary, the refuge itself represents many habitat 
types and is home to a diversity of plants and animals. Black Bayou 
Lake NWR is situated in the Mississippi Flyway, the Mississippi 
Alluvial Valley Bird Conservation Region, and the Lower Mississippi 
River Ecosystem. The refuge plays an important role regionally in 
fulfilling the goals of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Its close 
proximity to the city of Monroe gives the public opportunities to 
participate in educational programs that promote wildlife stewardship.
    Black Bayou Lake NWR was established for ``* * * the conservation 
of the wetlands of the Nation in order to maintain the public benefits 
they provide and to help fulfill international obligations contained in 
various migratory bird treaties and conventions * * *'' (16 U.S.C. 3901 
(b)) (Wetlands Resources Act).
    The central physical feature of the refuge is the lake itself. 
Black Bayou Lake, consisting of approximately 1,500 acres, is studded 
with bald cypress and water tupelo trees. The western half of the lake 
is open and deeper, unlike the eastern side, which is thick with trees 
and emergent vegetation. The lake is owned by the city of Monroe, which 
manages the lake's water level as a secondary source of municipal 
water. The Service has a 99-year free lease on the lake and some of its 
surrounding land, consisting of a total of 1,620 acres. The refuge owns 
the remaining 2,902 acres, consisting of upland pine/hardwood and 
bottomland hardwood forests.
    Significant issues addressed in this Draft CCP/EA include: (1) 
Managing for invasive species and species of special concern, such as 
the alligator snapping turtle; (2) managing mixed pine upland and 
bottomland hardwood forests; (3) land protection; (4) urban development 
and wildlife management; (5) maintaining the excellent environmental 
education and interpretation programs; and (6) increasing resources.

CCP Alternatives, Including Our Proposed Alternative

    We developed three alternatives for managing the refuge and chose 
Alternative B as the proposed alternative. A full description of each 
alternative is in the Draft CCP/EA. We summarize each alternative 

Alternative A--Current Management Direction (No Action Alternative)

    Black Bayou Lake NWR is part of the Lower Mississippi River 
Ecosystem and is considered to be in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley 
Bird Conservation Region. As such, Black Bayou Lake NWR is a component 
of many regional and ecosystem conservation planning initiatives. Under 
Alternative A, we would continue management of the refuge at its 
current level of participation in these initiatives throughout the 15-
year duration of the CCP. Current approaches to managing wildlife and 
habitats, protecting resources, and allowing for public use would 
remain unchanged.
    The mix of habitats on the refuge, including bottomland hardwood 
and upland pine hardwood forests, would be restored and managed 
appropriately. We would continue to work with partners to acquire lands 
within the current refuge boundary. We would continue to provide 
habitat for native wildlife species, wintering waterfowl, and year-
round habitat for nesting wood ducks. We would also maintain the 
current habitat mix to benefit other migratory birds. We would continue 
existing surveys to monitor long-term population trends and health of 
migratory and resident species.
    We would work with volunteers to maintain the current public use 
and environmental education programs on the refuge. We would continue 
to serve the public and the Complex with a quality wildlife-dependent 
visitor services program.

Alternative B--Optimize Biological Program and Visitor Services 
(Proposed Alternative)

    Under Alternative B, we would strive to optimize both our 
biological program and visitor services program. We would continue to 
provide habitat for resident wildlife species and would aim to increase 
our knowledge of migratory birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, 
and species of special concern, such as the alligator snapping turtle, 
by developing and implementing monitoring programs. We would use our 
resources to create and/or maintain a variety of habitats compatible 
with historic habitat types. Efforts to control invasive species would 
    Under Alternative B, land acquisition, bottomland hardwood forest 
management, and resource protection would be intensified. In the 
Private Lands Program, we would work with private landowners on 
adjacent tracts to manage and improve habitats.
    Under Alternative B, we would hire a fulltime law enforcement 
officer, a refuge operations specialist, a maintenance worker, and a 
park ranger (visitor services). With regard to cultural resources, 
including those of an archaeological or historical nature, within 15 
years of CCP approval, we would develop and begin to implement a 
Cultural Resources Management Plan.
    Public use and environmental education programs would be enhanced 
with the addition of two park rangers (visitor services and law 
enforcement). Within 3 years of CCP completion, we would develop a 
Visitor Services Plan to guide us in maintaining quality public use 
facilities and opportunities on the refuge.
    Over the 15-year life of the CCP, we would increase environmental 
education and interpretation opportunities to emphasize the importance 
of the refuge's habitats and resources.

Alternative C--Minimize Management and Public Use Management

    This alternative would minimize wildlife and habitat management and 
the public use program. Baseline inventorying and monitoring programs 
would be eliminated; monitoring for changes in trends would not be 
necessary to achieve the purposes of the refuge.
    Public use would be maintained and monitored for impacts to 
wildlife. Fishing, environmental education, and wildlife observation 
and photography would be accommodated the same as under the No Action 
Alternative. Waterfowl hunting would be eliminated. Staffing would 
remain the same as under the No Action Alternative.

Next Step

    After the comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.


    This notice is published under the authority of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, Public Law 105-57.

[[Page 50239]]

    Dated: July 13, 2009.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. E9-23559 Filed 9-29-09; 8:45 am]