[Federal Register: September 17, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 180)]
[Page 57056-57058]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2010-N150; 50133-1265-CHNP-S3]

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Wallops Island National 
Wildlife Refuge, Accomack County, VA; Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
and Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; announcement of public scoping and request 
for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), are gathering 
information to prepare a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
associated environmental impact statement (EIS)

[[Page 57057]]

for Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and Wallops Island NWR. 
We provide this notice in compliance with our policy to advise other 
agencies and the public of our intentions to conduct detailed planning 
on refuges, and obtain suggestions and information about the scope of 
issues to consider in the planning process.

DATES: We will hold public scoping open house meetings between August 
and November of 2010 in Accomack County, Virginia, and Worcester 
County, Maryland. The meetings will be announced through our Web site 
(http://www.fws.gov/northeast/planning), local newspapers, a 
newsletter, and personal contacts. See the ADDRESSES section for 
information about where to submit your comments. To ensure 
consideration of your written comments regarding the scope of the 
refuge management plan, you should submit them no later than January 
18, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information on the 
planning process by any of the following methods:
    Electronic mail: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include ``Chincoteague 
NWR'' in the subject line of the message.
    Facsimile: Attention: Thomas Bonetti, at 413-253-8468.
    U.S. mail: Thomas Bonetti, Refuge Planner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035.
    In person drop-off: You may drop off comments during regular 
business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To obtain more information on the 
refuge, contact Louis Hinds, Refuge Manager, at Chincoteague NWR, P.O. 
Box 62, Chincoteague Island, VA 23336; phone: 757-336-6122; facsimile: 
757-336-5273; electronic mail: fw5rw_cnwr@fws.gov or Web site: http://
    For additional questions about the planning process, you may 
contact Thomas Bonetti via the above methods or by calling 413-253-



    This notice initiates the CCP process for Chincoteague NWR and 
Wallops Island NWR, located in Accomack County, Virginia.


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as 
amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 
(16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), requires us to develop a CCP for each national 
wildlife refuge. The purpose of 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.
    We establish each refuge for specific purposes, and use those 
purposes to develop and prioritize its management goals, objectives, 
and public uses. The planning process is one way for us and for the 
public to evaluate those goals and objectives for the best possible 
conservation of important wildlife habitat, while providing 
opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation compatible with those 
purposes and the mission of the NWRS.
    We request your input on all issues, concerns, ideas, improvements, 
and suggestions for the future management of Chincoteague NWR. In 
addition to this opportunity to participate in the scoping for the 
project, you may submit additional comments during the planning process 
by writing to the refuge planner (see ADDRESSES section).
    We will conduct the environmental review of this project in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Council on 
Environmental Quality Regulations on NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), 
other appropriate Federal laws and regulations, and our policies and 
procedures for complying with them.

Chincoteague NWR and Wallops Island NWR

    Under the authority of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, 
Chincoteague NWR was established on May 13, 1943, for the protection 
and management of migratory birds, especially migrating and wintering 
waterfowl. Since that time, objectives have been expanded to protect 
and manage threatened and endangered species and other wildlife, and 
provide for wildlife-oriented public use.
    The refuge encompasses 14,032 acres, of which all but 418 acres in 
Maryland are located in Accomack County on the Eastern Shore of 
Virginia. The refuge also manages three smaller divisions that are 
located on the Virginia Barrier Islands: Assawoman Island Division, 
which contains 1,434 acres and encompasses the entire island; Metompkin 
Island Division, which consists of 174 acres on the north end of the 
island; and Cedar Island Division, which contains over 1,412 acres in 
fee title and 600 acres in easements. Additional refuge lands include 
546 acres on Wildcat Marsh (located on the north end of Chincoteague 
Island) and 427 acres on Morris Island (located between Chincoteague 
and Assateague Islands).
    The refuge's location along the Atlantic Flyway makes it a vital 
resting and feeding spot for a large number and diversity of birds. 
Within a one-day drive to millions of people, Chincoteague NWR is one 
of the most visited refuges in the United States, providing visitors 
with outstanding opportunities to learn about and enjoy wildlands and 
    Refuge staff manages this barrier island habitat to allow many 
species of wildlife to co-exist, each establishing its own place in the 
environment. For example, the refuge supports breeding populations of 
the federally endangered Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel and the 
threatened piping plover. Additionally, the Atlantic loggerhead sea 
turtle is a threatened species that nests occasionally on the refuge. 
Refuge management programs are targeted to provide feeding and resting 
areas for birds in migration, and nesting and brood-rearing habitat for 
those birds that find the refuge suitable for reproduction.
    The refuge is also one of the top shorebird migratory staging areas 
in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. In 1990, the barrier 
islands that make up Chincoteague NWR, along with other barrier islands 
of the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland, were designated an 
International Shorebird Reserve. This coastal barrier island/lagoon 
system has also been designated a World Biosphere Reserve by the United 
Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in 
recognition of its great ecological value. Moreover, the Department of 
Interior designated the area a National Natural Landmark in recognition 
of its outstanding natural values.
    The refuge is an important recreational destination point for 

[[Page 57058]]

living in the Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City 
areas. Attracted to the beautiful beach and the aesthetically pleasing 
nature of the island, hundreds of thousands of people visit Assateague 
Island annually. Managed jointly by the National Park Service and the 
FWS, Assateague Island supports a growing tourism economy in the town 
of Chincoteague and Accomack County.
    Popular attractions within the refuge include the undeveloped 
beach, the historic, functioning Assateague Lighthouse, the Wildlife 
Loop for automobiles, and 6.5 miles of walking trails (including some 
compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act) that provide 
viewing opportunities of the Chincoteague ponies, wildlife such as the 
sika elk, and migratory birds. The Herbert H. Bateman Educational and 
Administrative Center, a green facility that opened in 2003, is the 
refuge's visitor center and offers 5,000 square feet of interpretive 
natural history exhibits, educational programming, a 125-seat 
auditorium, and a classroom/wet laboratory. The refuge also provides 
wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities such as fishing, hunting, 
and wildlife photography.
    Wallops Island NWR was created on July 10, 1975, when 373 acres of 
land were transferred to the FWS from the National Aeronautics and 
Space Administration (NASA). Wallops Island NWR is located entirely in 
Accomack County, Virginia. The refuge, comprised mainly of salt marsh 
and woodlands, contains habitat for a variety of trust species, 
including upland- and wetland-dependent migratory birds. Wallops Island 
NWR was opened for the first time to public hunting in 2002 to reduce 
the effects of overbrowsing on refuge habitat by white-tailed deer, and 
to reduce the potential of deer collisions with vehicles on the 
adjacent State Highway 175 and neighboring NASA flight facility.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, electronic 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.

    Dated: August 10, 2010.
Anthony D. L[eacute]ger,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hadley, MA 
[FR Doc. 2010-23233 Filed 9-16-10; 8:45 am]