[Federal Register: June 25, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 122)]
[Page 36437-36438]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 36437]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2010-N085; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge, Pope and Yell Counties, AR

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 Holla Bend National 
Wildlife Refuge (NWR). In the final CCP, we describe how we will manage 
this refuge for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the CCP by writing to: Mr. Durwin 
Carter, Refuge Manager, Holla Bend NWR, 10448 Holla Bend Road, 
Dardanelle, AR 72834. The CCP may also be accessed and downloaded from 
the Service's Web site: http://southeast.fws.gov/planning under ``Final 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Mike Dawson, Refuge Planner, 
Jackson, MS; telephone: 601/965-4903, Ext. 20; fax: 601/965-4010; e-
mail: mike_dawson@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Holla Bend NWR. 
We started this process through a notice in the Federal Register on May 
17, 2007 (72 FR 27837).
    Holla Bend NWR is about 6 miles southeast of the city of Dardanelle 
in west-central Arkansas. The refuge is situated on a meander in the 
Arkansas River (i.e., Holla Bend) that was cut off when the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers (Corps) straightened the channel in 1954. When the 
work was completed, the Corps transferred the 4,068-acre Holla Bend 
cutoff site to the Service and Holla Bend NWR was formally established 
in 1957. We have acquired additional lands in the intervening years, 
and the fee title boundary presently includes 6,616 acres. We also 
manage 441 acres of a Migratory Bird Closure Zone outside of the fee 
title boundary, bringing the total managed area to 7,057 acres. The 
boundaries of the refuge are roughly defined by the main channel of the 
Arkansas River and the cutoff meander channel.
    The principal focus of the refuge is on providing a wintering area 
for ducks and geese that use the Arkansas River corridor as they 
migrate along the Mississippi and Central Flyways. The number of 
waterfowl on the refuge in any given year varies, depending on water 
levels and weather conditions further along the flyways. However, it is 
not uncommon for the refuge to host up to 100,000 ducks and geese at 
once during the winter months. Mallards are the most abundant, but at 
least 18 species of ducks and 4 species of geese have been observed on 
the refuge.
    More than 40,000 people visited the refuge in 2009. Almost half of 
these visitors came to the refuge to watch wildlife; bald eagles are an 
important draw. The refuge also provides opportunities for wildlife 
observation, wildlife photography, and environmental education and 
interpretation. There are opportunities for hunting and fishing as 
well, although these activities are limited to ensure that they are 
compatible with refuge purposes.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the final CCP and 
FONSI for Holla Bend NWR in accordance with the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) [40 CFR 1506.6(b)] requirements. We completed a 
thorough 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 Holla Bend NWR for the next 15 years. Alternative D is 
the foundation for the CCP.
    The compatibility determinations for hunting, fishing, wildlife 
observation and photography, environmental education and 
interpretation, all-terrain vehicle use, cooperative farming, 
commercial fishing, haying, research studies, and trapping 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 100 copies of the Draft CCP/EA were made available 
for a 30-day public review period as announced in the Federal Register 
on January 8, 2010 (75 FR 1073). Five public comments were received. 
The Draft CCP/EA identified and evaluated four alternatives for 
managing the refuge.

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received, we have selected 
Alternative D for implementation. This alternative is judged to be the 
most effective management action for meeting the purposes of the refuge 
by optimizing habitat management and visitor services.
    Refuge operations will be improved by balancing enhanced habitat 
and fish and wildlife population management and enhanced wildlife-
dependent public use. This adaptive management alternative is basically 
concurrent implementation of selected enhancements from alternatives B 
(Enhanced Management of Habitat and Fish and Wildlife Populations) and 
C (Enhanced Management for Wildlife-Dependent Public Use), focusing on 
specific enhancements for which inherent linkages will result in 
greater benefits to the refuge and surrounding area than simple 
addition of the benefits of each enhancement implemented separately. 
For example, the baseline biological information developed under 
Alternative B will be useful in identifying opportunities to improve 
visitor experiences, and the increased volunteer support management 
developed under Alternative C will lead to increased efficiencies in 
collecting data on biological resources and responses (e.g., nuisance 
and invasive species occurrence, deer herd status, and evaluation of 
habitat management efforts) identified in Alternative B.
    Habitat management will include converting 100 acres from 
agricultural production to grassland and scrub/shrub habitat; 
cooperative farming will continue on 1,200 acres. To the extent 
possible, crops will be converted to preferred waterfowl foods. We will 
monitor acreage of invasive plants and develop a strategy to eliminate 

[[Page 36438]]

native plants. Enhancements in the management of moist-soil habitat 
will include developing complete water control capability on all moist-
soil unit acreage and use of periodic disturbance to set back 
succession. Further, we will pursue cooperative projects to improve 
habitat quality on 500 acres of open water. Waterfowl usage and 
shorebird response to habitat management also will be monitored.
    Wildlife-dependent recreation activities will be the same as under 
Alternative A (Current Management).
    The two significant enhancements in the public use program will be 
development of an environmental education center and the addition of a 
park ranger (visitor services) position. These enhancements will 
greatly increase our capability and opportunity to conduct 
environmental education and interpretation programs, and to better 
utilize qualified volunteers in support of Holla Bend NWR's mission and 
objectives. One function of the park ranger will be to develop a plan 
for recruiting and effectively managing volunteer support.
    This alternative also will include the addition of an ADA-compliant 
fishing pier at Lodge Lake's bank fishing area, development of a bird 
observation trail north of the refuge office, improvements to the Lodge 
Lake Trail and the loop to the Levee Trail, and selective vegetation 
management along refuge roads to improve wildlife viewing 
opportunities. Information kiosks, directional signs, parking lots, and 
other visitor use facilities also will be improved to the extent 
feasible. This will include determining the maximum number of archery 
hunters we can support and evaluating the feasibility of adding a dove 
hunt season.
    Under this alternative, we will pursue opportunities that arise to 
purchase or exchange priority tracts within the refuge acquisition 
boundary, which includes 1,703 acres in private ownership distributed 
in numerous small tracts around the perimeter of the refuge. We will 
maintain the refuge as resources allow.
    The staff will be made up of the following: refuge manager, deputy 
refuge manager, heavy equipment operator, office assistant, biologist, 
biological science technician, park ranger (public use), park ranger 
(law enforcement), refuge operations specialist, and heavy equipment 


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

    Dated: April 22, 2010.
Mark J. Musaus,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2010-15434 Filed 6-24-10; 8:45 am]