[Federal Register: August 17, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 158)]
[Page 50777-50779]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2010-N116; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan; John Hay National Wildlife 
Refuge, Merrimack County, NH

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


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

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the final CCP and FONSI by 
any of the following methods. You may request a hard copy or CD-ROM.
    Agency Web Site: Download a copy of the document(s) at http://
    Electronic mail: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include ``John Hay 
final CCP'' in the subject line of the message.
    U.S. Postal Service: Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife 
Refuge Complex, 103 East Plumtree Road, Sunderland, MA 01375.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call 413-548-8002 to make an 
appointment during regular business hours at 103 East Plumtree Road, 
Sunderland, Massachusetts.
    Facsimile: 413-548-9725.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew French, Project Leader, Silvio

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O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, 103 East Plumtree Road, 
Sunderland, MA 01375; phone: 413-548-8002; facsimile: 413-548-9725; 
electronic mail: andrew_french@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for John Hay NWR. We 
started this plan's development through a notice in the Federal 
Register (73 FR 76376) on December 16, 2008. We released the draft CCP/
EA to the public, announcing and requesting comments in a notice of 
availability in the Federal Register (75 FR 7287) on February 18, 2010.
    John Hay NWR was established as a migratory bird and wildlife 
reservation in 1972. Alice Hay donated the 164-acre summer estate of 
John Hay to the Service. From 1987 to 2008, the refuge was 
cooperatively managed by several partners, including the New Hampshire 
State Parks, and then The Fells, a non-profit organization dedicated to 
maintaining the John Hay estate. In 2008, the refuge transferred 84 
acres containing the estate buildings and grounds to The Fells and 
retained approximately 80 forested acres on the shores of Lake Sunapee 
in Newbury, New Hampshire, as John Hay NWR. In exchange for this land 
transfer, 727 (+/-) acres were appended to Umbagog NWR. Refuge property 
extends to the normal high-water line. Therefore, when we refer to 
Service ownership or describe shoreline refuge management actions, we 
generally mean those areas above the normal high-water line.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the FONSI for the 
final CCP for John Hay NWR in accordance with 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 CCP/EA.
    The CCP will guide us in managing and administering John Hay NWR 
for the next 15 years. Alternative B, as we described in the draft CCP/
EA, is the foundation for the final 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 (NWRS), 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 and 
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 Selected Alternative

    Our draft CCP/EA (75 FR 7287) addressed several key issues, 
including the amount of grasslands to manage, other priority habitat 
types to conserve, land protection and conservation priorities, 
improving the visibility of the Service and refuge, providing desired 
facilities and activities, and ways to improve opportunities for public 
use while ensuring the restoration and protection of priority 
    To address these issues and develop a plan based on the purposes 
for establishing the refuge and the vision and goals we identified, 
three alternatives were evaluated in the EA. The alternatives have some 
actions in common, such as protecting and monitoring Federally listed 
species and the regionally significant bald eagle population, 
controlling invasive plants and wildlife diseases, encouraging research 
that benefits our resource decisions, protecting cultural resources, 
and distributing refuge revenue-sharing payments to counties.
    Other actions distinguish the alternatives. Alternative A, or the 
``No Action Alternative,'' is defined by our current management 
activities. It serves as the baseline against which to compare the 
other two alternatives. Our habitat management and visitor services 
programs would not change under this alternative. We would continue to 
use the same tools and techniques, and not expand existing facilities. 
Under Alternative A, we would continue to passively manage refuge lands 
through collaboration with partners and the Service would have minimal 
presence. Habitat management would be limited to promoting visitor 
safety and responding to invasive plants or animals that can impact 
habitat integrity or priority wildlife. No other active wildlife or 
habitat management would occur except the existing mowing of the meadow 
and viewing corridor, which provides early successional forest habitat. 
Minimal coordination with The Fells, Forest Society, Lake Sunapee 
Protective Association, and New Hampshire Audubon for wildlife, water 
quality, and habitat protection would continue on an as-needed basis. 
The current level and types of visitor services would continue on the 
refuge. Administration of visitor services, land protection, and 
biological and law enforcement activities would be handled by existing 
staff from Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. We would 
maintain our current minimal visitor services, biological and law 
enforcement activities, and administration through the Sunderland 
office as funds and staffing permit.
    Alternative B (the Service-preferred alternative) includes an array 
of management actions that, in our professional judgment, work best 
toward achieving the purposes of the refuge, our vision and goals for 
those lands, the NWRS mission, and the goals in State and regional 
conservation plans. Under Alternative B, we would emphasize the 
management of specific refuge habitats to support focal species whose 
habitat needs benefit other species of conservation concern in the Lake 
Sunapee region. In particular, we would emphasize habitat for priority 
bird species of conservation concern in the Bird Conservation Region 14 
and Partners in Flight Physiographic Area 27 plans, New Hampshire 
Wildlife Action Plan, Birds of Conservation Concern 2008, and other 
conservation plans at State and national scales. We would strive to 
integrate the habitat management objectives for species of concern with 
maintaining the cultural heritage of the former John Hay estate. In 
addition, we would focus on making improvements to our visitor services 
through the addition of seasonal on-site staff, fishing as an approved 
public use, and a minor expansion of our trail system on the refuge. We 
would construct an alternate route for the John Hay II Forest Ecology 
Trail to allow visitors to return to the trailhead without entering The 
Fells' property, post explanatory signage at the trailhead and at the 
point of entry to The Fells, install a kiosk at the trailhead and 
interpretive and informational signs throughout the refuge to 
incrementally increase visitor awareness of refuge resources, add a 
spur trail to the fen and back with informational signage on the 
ecology of fens, and install a footbridge(s) where stream crossing of

[[Page 50779]]

Beech Brook is a concern for public safety and stream health. Finally, 
our biological program would be enhanced through partnerships that 
would increase our ability to conduct surveys and long-term monitoring.
    Alternative C is similar in many respects to Alternative B, but 
proposes more intensive forest management and wildlife dependent 
recreation, with a philosophy of maintaining the character and history 
of the forest, to the extent that it does not compromise the refuge 
purposes and goals. Generally, white pine (Pinus strobus) and other 
native species would be encouraged to regenerate. The addition of 
permanent staff would enhance the visitor services program through a 
much broader array of programming and outreach. In addition to the 
trail and signage improvements proposed with Alternative B, under 
Alternative C we would improve the Ecology Trail to be compliant with 
the Americans with Disabilities Act and lead to a viewing platform at 
the lakeshore. Both fishing and hunting would be added as new public 
uses at the refuge. Biological programs would incorporate more surveys 
and the ability to conduct habitat improvements.


    We solicited comments on the draft CCP/EA for a 30-day period of 
public review and comment from February 18 to March 22, 2010, and held 
a public meeting on March 11, 2010, in Newbury, New Hampshire. We 
received 18 unique letters and oral comments representing individuals, 
organizations, and State agencies. Appendix F in the final CCP includes 
a summary of those comments and our responses to them.

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received on our draft CCP/EA, we 
have selected Alternative B for implementation for several reasons. 
Alternative B comprises the mix of actions that, in our professional 
judgment, works best towards achieving refuge purposes, our vision and 
goals, and the goals of other State and regional conservation plans. We 
also believe it most effectively addresses the key issues raised during 
the planning process. The basis of our decision is detailed in Appendix 
G of the CCP.

Public Availability of Documents

    You can view or obtain documents as indicated under ADDRESSES.

    Dated: June 24, 2010.
Sherry W. Morgan,
Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
[FR Doc. 2010-20305 Filed 8-16-10; 8:45 am]