[Federal Register: February 6, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 24)]
[Page 6303]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 6303]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-R-2008-N0331; 60138-1265-6CCP-S3]

Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Nine Wetland Management 
Districts, North Dakota

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces that 
the Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for nine Wetland 
Management Districts (Districts) is available. This final CCP describes 
how the Service intends to manage the Districts for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: A copy of the CCP may be obtained by writing to U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Division of Refuge Planning, 134 Union Boulevard, 
Suite 300, Lakewood, Colorado 80228; or by download from http://

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Esperance, 303-236-4369 (phone); 
303-236-4792 (fax); or john_esperance@fws.gov (e-mail).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The nine Districts are Devils Lake, 
Arrowwood, Audubon, Chase Lake, Crosby, J. Clark Salyer, Kulm, 
Lostwood, and Valley City Wetland Management Districts.
    The Districts are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System of 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Districts were started as part 
of the Small Wetlands Acquisition Program in the 1950s to save wetlands 
from various threats, particularly drainage. The passage of Public Law 
85-585 in August, 1958, amended the Migratory Bird Hunting and 
Conservation Stamp Act of 1934, allowing for the acquisition of 
waterfowl production areas and easements for waterfowl production.
    All nine of the Districts have a primary purpose to provide optimal 
habitat conditions for the needs of a suite of waterfowl and other 
migratory birds, and, to a lesser extent native, resident wildlife.
    To achieve goals and objectives, aggressive wetland and upland 
habitat management must be conducted. Wetland and upland habitats need 
to be protected and enhanced through management. Habitat protection 
needs to be evaluated through a priority system so that different means 
of protection, either through fee title or easements, can be evaluated.
    The draft CCP/EA was made available to the public for a 30-day 
review and comment period following the announcement in the Federal 
Register on August 19, 2008 (73 FR 48388). The draft CCP/EA identified 
and evaluated three alternatives for managing the refuges for the next 
15 years.
    Alternative A, the No Action alternative, promotes a continuation 
of all aspects of the District's current management. Staff would 
conduct monitoring, inventory, and research activities at their current 
level (i.e., limited, issue-driven research and limited avian and 
vegetative monitoring and inventory). Funding and staff levels would 
not change and programs would follow the same direction, emphasis, and 
intensity as they do at present. The current management of wildlife 
habitat and associated species on Districts Wetland Productions Areas 
(WPAs) are prioritized into high, medium, and low areas. Currently, 
only high priority Wetland Production Areas are receiving consistent 
management. All conservation easements are monitored by Service 
personnel; however, only the high priority easement violations are 
consistently enforced. Currently public use events and workshops with 
such groups as school districts, youth groups, and conservations groups 
are conducted on a multiyear rotation among Districts.
    Alternative B is the Service's proposed action and basis for the 
CCP. This alternative will allow for enhanced wetland and upland 
management where warranted on District lands. Management objectives for 
various habitat types would be based on habitat preferences of groups 
of target species, such as waterfowl, migratory shore birds, grassland 
bird species and priority species. District staff will focus on high 
priority tracts and medium priority tracts. The District staff will 
implement compatible production enhancement techniques for targeted 
migratory bird populations. The District staff will maintain existing 
environmental education and public use programs, with additional 
waterfowl emphases. The Service proposes, at a future date, a new 
administration and visitor center for Audubon and Kulm WMD and 
additionally a new visitor contact station for Lostwood, Valley City, 
and Arrowwood Wetland Management District.
    In Alternative C, management by the District staff would be more 
intensive and widespread that targets native prairie/wetland complexes. 
District staff would seek out where restoration projects were expanded 
and where returning native grasslands to quality native prairie was a 
priority. This alternative would have the potential to provide 
additional management options to address habitat requirements and needs 
of specific groups of water-dependent birds (e.g., waterfowl and 
shorebirds). The staff would develop new environmental education and 
public use programs. The Service proposes, at a future date, a new 
administration and visitor center for Audubon and Kulm WMD and 
additionally, a new visitor contact station for Lostwood, Valley City, 
and Arrowwood Wetland Management District.
    The Service is furnishing this notice to advise other agencies and 
the public of the availability of the final CCP, to provide information 
on the desired conditions for the refuges, and to detail how the 
Service will implement management strategies. Based on the review and 
evaluation of the information contained in the EA, the Regional 
Director has determined that implementation of the final CCP does not 
constitute a major Federal action that would significantly affect the 
quality of the human environment within the meaning of Section 
102(2)(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act. Therefore, an 
Environmental Impact Statement will not be prepared. Future site-
specific proposals discussed in the final CCP will be addressed in 
separate planning efforts with full public involvement.

    Dated: February 2, 2009.
Noreen E. Walsh,
Deputy Regional Director.
[FR Doc. E9-2542 Filed 2-5-09; 8:45 am]