[Federal Register: April 30, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 83)]
[Page 22838-22840]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2010-N025; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Charleston County, SC

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

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


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan and 
environmental assessment (Draft CCP/EA) for Cape Romain National 
Wildlife Refuge (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 CCP.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by June 1, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Send comments, questions, and requests for information to: 
Ms. Raye Nilus, Project Leader, Cape Romain NWR, 5801 Highway 17 North, 
Awendaw, SC 29429; e-mail: caperomainccp@fws.gov. The Draft CCP/EA is 
available on compact disc or in hard copy. You may also access and 
download a copy of the Draft CCP/EA from the Service's Internet site: 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Laura Housh; telephone: 912/496-
7366, Extension 244.



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Cape Romain NWR. 
We started this process through a notice in the Federal Register on 
January 3, 2007 (72 FR 141).

[[Page 22839]]


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), 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 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 Administration Act.

CCP Alternatives, Including our Proposed Alternative

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

Alternative A: Continuation of Current Refuge Management (No Action)

    This alternative represents no change from current management of 
the refuge. Management emphasis would continue to focus on loggerhead 
sea turtle recovery and maintaining existing wetland impoundments for 
wintering waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds. Primary management 
activities would include managing wetland impoundments, managing 
maritime forests for neotropical migratory birds, monitoring basic 
species, and relocating sea turtle nests. Alternative A represents the 
anticipated conditions of the refuge for the next 15 years, assuming 
current funding, staffing, policies, programs, and activities continue.
    This alternative would include actions to manage habitat for 
resident and wintering shorebirds, waterfowl, foraging wood storks, and 
over-wintering piping plovers. It also would provide opportunities for 
wildlife-dependent recreation; however, some areas would only be 
seasonally opened. Hunting and fishing would be allowed and would 
follow State regulations. Environmental education and interpretation 
programs would continue. Species monitoring would be limited due to 
staffing constraints, lack of volunteer assistance, and limited 
research interest. Habitat management actions would primarily benefit 
sea turtles, wading birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl; however, there is 
limited active management of other species and habitats.
    The refuge would remain staffed at current levels, with the use of 
periodic interns. Researchers would be accommodated when projects 
benefit the refuge.

Alternative B

    This alternative expands on Alternative A with an increase of 
habitat and species management efforts. The focus of this alternative 
is to enhance suitable habitat under species-specific management and to 
increase monitoring efforts. We would control invasive exotic plant 
species to help increase populations of neotropical migratory birds and 
breeding songbirds to higher levels than under Alternative A. We would 
increase efforts to monitor populations of secretive marsh birds, and 
we would conduct nesting surveys of shorebirds, sea birds, and wading 
birds. Alternative B would continue waterfowl and shorebird monitoring, 
with additional effort placed on monitoring marsh birds and wading 
birds by conducting nesting surveys. Monitoring efforts would occur 
based on available staffing, additional volunteers, and academic 
    Wildlife-dependent recreation would continue. Hunting and fishing 
would continue to be allowed and environmental education and 
interpretation enhanced with messages regarding climate change and sea 
level rise. Interpretive signage would be increased or added to 
existing nature trails. There would be restricted access to some areas 
of the refuge that have birds or threatened and endangered species 
sensitive to disturbance. Interpretation efforts would focus mostly on 
the primary objectives of migratory birds and threatened and endangered 
    The refuge would be staffed at current levels plus the addition of 
a wildlife refuge specialist and a biologist to carry out the increased 
habitat management and monitoring needs. Researchers would be 
accommodated when projects benefit the refuge and focus mostly on 
shorebirds and habitat management.

Alternative C: (Proposed Alternative)

    This alternative expands on Alternative A with a greater amount of 
effort to increase overall wildlife and habitat quality. Although 
management of sea turtles, waterfowl, threatened and endangered 
species, and migratory birds would remain a focus of the refuge, 
wetland habitat manipulations would also consider the needs of multiple 
species, such as marsh and wading birds. Maritime forests and fields 
for neotropical migratory birds would be more actively managed. 
Landscape-level consideration of habitat management would include 
identifying areas of important habitat that would become critical to 
wildlife as sea level rises and reduces habitat currently on the 
refuge. Multiple species consideration would include species and 
habitats identified by the South Atlantic Migratory Bird Initiative and 
the State's Strategic Conservation Plan.
    This alternative would expand the monitoring efforts under 
Alternative A to provide additional, active efforts to monitor and 
survey migratory neotropical and breeding songbirds, secretive marsh 
birds, and plants. Monitoring efforts would be increased with the 
assistance of additional staff, trained volunteers, and academic 
research. Greater effort would be made to recruit academic researchers 
to the refuge to study and monitor resources.
    Wildlife-dependent recreational uses of the refuge would continue. 
Hunting and fishing would continue to be allowed. However, hunting 
would be managed with a greater focus to achieve biological needs of 
the refuge such as deer population management. Environmental education 
and interpretation would be the same as under Alternative A, but with 
additional education and outreach efforts aimed at the importance of 
climate change, sea level rise, and wilderness. A significantly greater 
effort would be made with outreach to nearby developing urban 
communities and a growing human population. Existing environmental 
education programs, such as the Earth Stewards Program, conducted in 
concert with the SEWEE Association, the refuge friends group, would be 
expanded to include additional elementary schools, students, and 
    The refuge would be staffed at current levels plus the addition of 
a wildlife refuge specialist and two biologists to carry out the 
increased habitat management and monitoring needs. An additional park 
ranger would be hired to enhance visitor services and environmental 
education programs. Greater emphasis would be placed on recruiting and 
training volunteers, and worker-camper opportunities would be expanded 
to facilitate the

[[Page 22840]]

accomplishment of refuge maintenance programs and other refuge goals 
and objectives. The refuge's biological programs would actively seek 
funding and researchers to study primarily management-oriented needs. 
Refuge staff would place greater emphasis on developing and maintaining 
active partnerships, including seeking grants to assist the refuge in 
reaching primary objectives.

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.

     Dated: February 24, 2010.
Mark J. Musaus,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2010-10089 Filed 4-29-10; 8:45 am]