[Federal Register: August 25, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 164)]
[Page 52363-52364]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2009-N272; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Ouachita Parish, 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 Black Bayou Lake 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: Mr. George 
Chandler, North Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 11372 
Highway 143, Farmerville, LA 71241. The CCP may also be accessed and 
downloaded from the Service's Web site: http://southeast.fws.gov/
planning/ under ``Final Documents.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. George Chandler; telephone: 318-
726-4222; fax: 318-726-4667; e-mail: george_chandler@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Black Bayou Lake 
NWR. We started this process through a notice in the Federal Register 
on May 8, 2008 (73 FR 26139).
    The Black Bayou Lake NWR is a unit of the North Louisiana National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex. In addition to Black Bayou Lake NWR, the 
Complex includes D'Arbonne, Upper Ouachita, Handy Brake, and Red River 
NWRs, and the Louisiana Farm Service Agency Tracts. Each refuge has 
unique issues and has had separate planning efforts and public 
    The Black Bayou Lake NWR plays an important role regionally in 
fulfilling the national goals of the National Wildlife Refuge System. 
Its close proximity to a major metropolitan center gives the public the 
ability to participate in educational opportunities that promote 
wildlife stewardship and to learn about environmental issues.
    Black Bayou Lake NWR, established in 1997, is 3 miles north of the 
city of Monroe, Louisiana, just east of Highway 165 in Ouachita Parish. 
It contains 4,522 acres of wetland, bottomland hardwood, and upland 
mixed pine/hardwood habitats. Although the suburban sprawl of the city 
of Monroe surrounds much of its boundary, the refuge itself represents 
many habitat types and is home to a diversity of plants and animals. 
Black Bayou Lake NWR is situated in the Mississippi Flyway, the 
Mississippi Alluvial Valley Bird Conservation Region, and the Lower 
Mississippi River Ecosystem.
    Black Bayou Lake NWR was established for ``the conservation of the 
wetlands of the nation in order to maintain the public benefits they 
provide and to help fulfill international obligations contained in 
various migratory bird treaties and conventions'' 16 U.S.C. 3901 (b) 
(Wetlands Extension Act).
    The central physical feature of the refuge is the lake itself. 
Black Bayou Lake, consisting of approximately 1,500 acres, is studded 
with baldcypress and water tupelo trees. The western half of the lake 
is open and deeper, unlike the eastern side, which is thick with trees 
and emergent vegetation. This portion of the lake is naturally filling 
in. The lake is owned by the city of Monroe, which manages its water 
level as a secondary source of municipal water. The Service has a 99-
year free lease on the lake and some of its surrounding land, 
constituting a total of 1,620 acres. The refuge owns the remaining 
2,902 acres, consisting of upland pine/hardwood and bottomland hardwood 
    We announce our decision and the availability of the final CCP and 
FONSI for Black Bayou Lake 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 Black Bayou Lake NWR for the next 15 years. 
Alternative B is the foundation for the CCP.
    The compatibility determinations for wildlife observation and 
photography; environmental education and interpretation; big game 
hunting; small game hunting; migratory bird hunting; fishing; hiking, 
jogging, and walking; boating; all-terrain vehicles; plant gathering; 
bicycling; and forest management/timber harvest are available in the 


    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 in 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 


    We made copies of the Draft CCP/EA available for a 30-day public 
review and comment period via a Federal Register notice on September 
20, 2009 (74 FR 50237). We received four comments on the Draft CCP/EA.

Selected Alternative

    The Draft CCP/EA identified and evaluated three alternatives for 
managing the refuge. After considering the comments we received and 
based on the professional judgment of the planning team, we selected 
Alternative B for implementation.
    Under Alternative B, biological potential of historical habitats 
will be restored and enhanced, with most management actions emphasizing 
natural ecological processes to foster habitat functions and wildlife 
populations. We will focus our efforts on reducing invasive species 
threatening the biological integrity of the refuge. Baseline 
inventorying and monitoring of management actions will

[[Page 52364]]

be completed to gain information on a variety of species from reptiles 
and amphibians to game animals, as well as species of concern. Several 
cooperative projects will be conducted with universities, the Louisiana 
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and other agencies and 
individuals to provide biological information to be used in management 
decisions. To determine how forest management is affecting wildlife, 
partnerships will be developed to establish scientifically valid 
protocols and to collaboratively work on research projects. Upland 
forest management will focus on restoring the biological integrity of a 
mixed hardwood/pine forest by promoting upland hardwood species. We 
will increase our management of bottomlands to open canopy cover and 
increase understory vegetation. Water control structures and pumping 
capabilities will be improved to enhance moist-soil management for the 
benefit of wintering waterfowl and shorebirds. Invasive species will be 
mapped and protocols for control established. Partnerships will 
continue to be fostered for several biological programs, hunting 
regulations, law enforcement issues, and research projects.
    Public use will be similar to current management, with a few 
improvements based on additional resources. Environmental education 
will increase from the current conditions only slightly. The program 
will be enhanced and improved with the addition of two park rangers 
(visitor services and law enforcement). Within 3 years of the date of 
the CCP, we will develop a Visitor Services Plan to be used in 
maintaining quality public use facilities and opportunities at Black 
Bayou Lake NWR.
    Staffing will increase by four positions: A full-time law 
enforcement officer, a refuge operations specialist, a maintenance 
worker, and a park ranger (Visitor Services). This will enable us to 
increase biological inventorying and monitoring, enhance forest 
management, increase invasives control, enhance the public use program, 
and provide safe and compatible wildlife-dependent recreation.


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

    Dated: January 13, 2010.
Jeffrey M. Fleming,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2010-21121 Filed 8-24-10; 8:45 am]