[Federal Register: December 11, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 237)]
[Page 65786-65787]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2009-N122; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, Franklin, Madison, and 
Tensas Parishes, LA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: final comprehensive conservation plan 
and finding of no significant impact.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of our final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the environmental 
assessment for Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). In the 
final CCP, we describe how we will manage this refuge for the next 15 

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the CCP by writing to: Ms. Kelly 
Purkey, Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, 2312 Quebec Road, 
Tallulah, LA 71282. You may also access and download the document from 
the Service's Web site: http://southeast.fws.gov/planning.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Kelly Purkey; telephone: 318/574-
2664; fax: 318/574-1624; e-mail: kelly_purkey@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Tensas River NWR. 
We started this process through a notice in the Federal Register on 
September 8, 2006 (71 FR 53131). For more about the process, see that 
    Tensas River NWR consists of 74,622 acres in fee title and 195 
acres in easement. It is located in the Tensas River Basin in northeast 
Louisiana, approximately 60 miles southeast of Monroe, Louisiana, and 
25 miles southwest of Vicksburg, Mississippi. The refuge area 
encompasses portions of Madison, Tensas, and Franklin Parishes. The 
office/visitor center and maintenance facilities on the refuge are 
approximately 12 miles southwest of Tallulah, Louisiana.
    In an effort to conserve the largest privately owned tract of 
bottomland hardwoods remaining in the Mississippi Delta, Congress 
authorized the Secretary of the Interior to establish the Tensas River 
NWR by Public Law 96-285 on June 28, 1980. Tensas River NWR was 
established for various purposes, including:

    ``For the preservation and development of the environmental 
resources * * * to conserve the diversity of fish and wildlife and 
their habitat * * * for the conservation and development of wildlife 
and natural resources, the development of outdoor recreation 
opportunities, and interpretative education,'' and ``to give special 
consideration to management of the timber on the refuge to ensure 
continued commercial production and harvest compatible with the 
purposes for which the refuge is established and the needs of fish 
and wildlife which depend upon the dynamic and diversified hardwood 
forest'' (94 Stat. 595, dated June 28, 1980);
    ``For the development, advancement, management, conservation, 
and protection of fish and wildlife resources'' [16 U.S.C. 
742f(a)(4)] ``for the benefit of the United States Fish and Wildlife 
Service, in performing its activities and services. Such acceptance 
may be subject to the terms of any restrictive or affirmative 
covenant, or condition of servitude'' [16 U.S.C. 742f(b)(1) (Fish 
and Wildlife Act of 1956)];
    ``For conservation purposes'' [7 U.S.C. 2002 (Consolidated Farm 
and Rural Development Act)];
    ``To conserve (A) fish or wildlife which are listed as 
endangered species or threatened species * * * or (B) plants'' [16 
U.S.C. 1534 (Endangered Species Act of 1973)].

    We announce our decision and the availability of the final CCP and 
FONSI for Tensas River NWR in accordance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) [40 CFR 1506.6(b)] requirements. We 
completed a thorough

[[Page 65787]]

analysis of impacts on the human environment, which we included in the 
draft comprehensive conservation plan and environmental assessment 
(Draft CCP/EA). The CCP will guide us in managing and administering 
Tensas River NWR for the next 15 years. Alternative C is the foundation 
for the CCP.
    The compatibility determinations for wildlife observation and 
photography, environmental education and interpretation, fishing, field 
trials, boating, bottomland hardwood forest management, trapping, all-
terrain vehicle use, cooperative farming, research studies, horse/mule 
special use, and fire management are available in the CCP.


    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Administration Act), as amended by the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, 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 plan 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 Administration 


    Approximately 200 copies of the Draft CCP/EA were made available 
for a 30-day public review period as announced in the Federal Register 
on February 4, 2009 (74 FR 6053). Ten respondents, consisting of the 
Service, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the 
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and local citizens, 
submitted written comments by mail or e-mail.

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received, and based on the 
professional judgment of the planning team, we selected Alternative C 
to implement the CCP. The primary focus of the CCP is to optimize the 
biological potential of historical habitats by utilizing management 
actions which emphasize natural ecological processes to foster habitat 
functions and wildlife populations. We will enhance the biological 
program by inventorying and monitoring so that adaptive management can 
be implemented primarily for migratory birds, but other species of 
wildlife will benefit as well.
    We will manage bottomland hardwood forests based on an inventory 
that defines current conditions and that can be conducted in a logical 
and feasible manner. Bottomlands will be managed to increase opening of 
the canopy cover and to increase structural and vegetation diversity. 
Water control structures and pumping capability will be improved to 
enhance moist-soil and cropland management for the benefit of wintering 
waterfowl. Invasive species of plants will be mapped and protocols for 
control will be established with the addition of a forester. 
Partnerships will continue to be fostered for several biological 
programs, hunting regulations, law enforcement issues, and research 
    Forest management, reforestation, and resource protection at Tensas 
River NWR will be intensified. We will provide a full-time law 
enforcement officer, an equipment operator, a maintenance mechanic, and 
a wildlife technician. We will develop and begin to implement a 
Cultural Resources Management Plan.
    Within 3 years, we will develop a Visitor Services Plan to be used 
in expanding public use facilities and opportunities on the refuge. 
This step-down management plan will provide overall long-term direction 
and guidance in developing and running a larger public use program on 
the refuge. We will increase opportunities for visitors by improving 
and/or adding facilities, such as photo blinds, observation sites, and 
trails, as well as improving access and roads.
    The CCP will increase bottomland hardwood forest habitat 
restoration and management, improve general refuge and visitor center 
access, meet the recovery goals of the threatened Louisiana black bear, 
integrate management with regional watershed/ecosystem plans, improve 
resident and migratory wildlife species quality and abundance, and 
improve opportunities for wildlife-dependent public use.


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

    Dated: July 20, 2009.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. E9-29530 Filed 12-10-09; 8:45 am]