[Federal Register: October 8, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 195)]
[Page 62415-62417]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2010-N115; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

Nomans Land Island National Wildlife Refuge, Town of Chilmark, 
Martha's Vineyard, MA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of final comprehensive conservation plan 
and finding of no significant impact for environmental assessment.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. 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 (EA) for Nomans Land Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). 
In this final CCP, we describe how we will manage this refuge for the 
next 15 years.

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 ``Nomans Land 
Island final CCP'' in the subject line of the message.
    U.S. Postal Service: Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex, 73 Weir 
Hill Road, Sudbury, MA 01776.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call 978-443-4661 to make an 
appointment during regular business hours at the above address.
    Facsimile: 978-443-2898.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Libby Herland, Project Leader, Eastern 
Massachusetts NWR Complex, 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, MA 01776; phone: 
413-443-4661, or Carl Melberg, Planning Team Leader, phone: 978-443-
4661; electronic mail: Carl_Melberg@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Nomans Land 
Island NWR, which we started with the notice of intent we published in 
the Federal Register (69 FR 72210) on December 13, 2008. We prepared 
the EA/draft CCP in compliance with the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (Administration Act) (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997 (Improvement Act). We released the EA/draft CCP 
to the public, announcing and requesting comments in a notice of 
availability in the Federal Register (75 FR 30052) on May 28, 2010.
    Nomans Land Island is a 628-acre roadless island located 
approximately 3 miles south of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The 
refuge was established in 1998 for the conservation and management of 
migratory birds. We first began managing a portion of the eastern side 
of the island in 1970 as an ``overlay'' refuge under a joint management 
agreement between the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. 
Department of the Navy (Navy), while it was still under Navy 
management. In 1998, management of the island was transferred to the 
Service, and all 628 acres became Nomans Land Island NWR.
    This island has a unique history, from its use by Native Americans 
as a summer camp, to sheep grazing when the island was privately owned 
in the 1800s, to use as a bombing range by the Navy during World War 
II. Because Nomans Land Island provides diverse habitats including 
intertidal, freshwater wetland, grassland, and shrubland habitats, it 
serves an important role for nesting landbirds and colonial waterbirds, 
and is a stopover for migratory birds and raptors, including the 
peregrine falcon.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the FONSI for the 
final CCP for Nomans Land Island NWR in accordance with NEPA 
requirements. The FONSI is included as Appendix K in the final CCP. We 
completed a thorough analysis of impacts on the human environment, 
which we included in the EA/draft CCP.
    Alternative C, as we described in the EA/draft CCP, is the 
foundation for the final CCP.


    The Administration Act, as amended by the Improvement Act, 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

[[Page 62416]]

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 EA/draft CCP addressed several key issues, including the amount 
of shrubland to manage, other priority habitat types to conserve, land 
protection and conservation priorities, improving the visibility of the 
Service and refuge, and ways to improve opportunities for off-site 
public use while ensuring the restoration and protection of priority 
ecological and cultural resources.
    To address these issues and develop a plan based on the purposes 
for establishing the refuge, and the vision and goals we identified, we 
identified three alternatives in the EA. The alternatives have some 
actions in common, such as protecting and monitoring federally listed 
species and the regionally significant coastal shrubland, controlling 
invasive plants and wildlife diseases, monitoring programs that benefit 
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,'' consists of 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, and the Service would have minimal presence. Habitat management 
would be limited to continuing to passively oversee the current 400 
acres of shrub habitat, up to 150 acres of freshwater wetland 
communities, 100 acres of marine intertidal beach and rocky shore 
habitat, and 15 acres of herbaceous upland dune vegetation. We would 
continue minimal monitoring of focal species as current staffing 
allows. We would provide oversight and coordination to Navy contaminant 
and unexploded ordnance (UXO) cleanup.
    The refuge would continue to be closed to the public. 
Administration of off-site visitor services, land protection, and 
biological and law enforcement activities would be handled by existing 
staff from the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex based in Sudbury, 
Massachusetts, as funds and staffing permit.
    Under Alternative B, we would emphasize more active monitoring and 
management of all refuge habitats to support focal species whose 
habitat needs also benefit other species of conservation concern in the 
region. In particular, the alternative emphasizes active habitat 
management for breeding and migrating priority bird species of 
conservation concern identified by national, regional, and State 
conservation plans.
    With the addition of seasonal biological and law enforcement staff, 
under Alternative B, we would also implement a more active prescribed 
burning regime, invasive species and predator control programs, and 
better enforcement of the no-public-access policy. We would actively 
monitor and manage beach/nesting species such as terns, plovers, and 
rare plants, and consider the introduction of the New England 
cottontail. We would improve our visitor services through partnerships 
and working with them to develop programs and facilities on their lands 
that help increase awareness of the refuge's biological and cultural 
resources. Finally, our biological program would be enhanced through 
partnerships that would increase our ability to conduct surveys and 
long-term monitoring.
    Alternative C was identified as the Service-preferred alternative 
in the EA/draft CCP. It allows the 400 acres of critical migration 
stopover shrub habitat to be influenced by natural processes such as 
succession over the next 15 years, with minimal management. It allows 
coastal processes of wind and wave action to shape the current 15 acres 
of herbaceous upland dune vegetation, 100 acres of marine intertidal 
beach and rocky shore habitats, and almost 150 acres of freshwater 
wetlands. Under this alternative, we also would continue to study the 
feasibility of introducing New England cottontail on the refuge.
    The alternative recognizes the island as one of the few 
opportunities in the Northeast region of the United States for 
wilderness designation and proposes pursuing formal designation as a 
unit of the National Wilderness Preservation System. It also recognizes 
the need to coordinate with the Navy annually to promote communication, 
exchange information on Navy operations and management planning, and 
facilitate cleanup of contaminants and UXO on the refuge. We would also 
closely coordinate with the Navy and the Massachusetts State Historic 
Preservation Office for any proposed ground-disturbing activity. We 
would monitor vegetation changes every 3 years through aerial 
photography and/or site visitation. We would establish a fire regime to 
manage shrub habitat as needed, and we would monitor invasive plant 
species annually and control those that threaten healthy ecosystems.
    Existing refuge complex staff would enhance the visitor services 
program through a broader array of off-site programming and outreach 
through partnership opportunities as they arise, similar to, but to a 
lesser extent than would take place under the other alternatives.


    We invited comments on the EA/draft CCP during a public review and 
comment period, from May 28 through July 3, 2010, and held a public 
meeting on June 23, 2010, in the Town of Chilmark, Massachusetts.
    We received 24 unique letters and oral comments representing 
individuals, organizations, and State agencies. We made modifications 
to the draft that are outlined in Appendix J, ``Summary of Public 
Comments and Service's Response on the Environmental Assessment and 
Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Nomans Land Island National 
Wildlife Refuge'' in the final CCP. Highlights of some of the changes 
are listed below:
    1. We were made aware of additional partnership opportunities on 
Martha's Vineyard and have modified the final CCP to reflect these 
opportunities (pages 4-7 through 4-8). We also inserted language in the 
Rationale to Objective 2.2 (page 4-30) that these partnerships would 
potentially provide additional resources to increase our visitor 
services capacity from what we originally proposed.
    2. We added language to Chapter 4 in the final CCP (page 4-11) 
stating that although it would not be possible to clean up the island 
to pre-bombing conditions, we would continue to work with the Navy and 
Federal and State regulators for the 5-year site reviews as required by 
the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability 
Act. If, at some point in the future, there is a

[[Page 62417]]

major advance in technology that would allow the extraction of UXOs 
without massive ground disturbance or impact to wildlife, then 
additional cleanup might warrant further consideration at that time.
    3. We included language in our Habitat Management and Protection 
summary in Chapter 4 of the final CCP (page 4-14) and biological 
rationales [Objectives 1.1 (page 4-19) and 1.2 (page 4-24)] to work 
with the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program 
to evaluate the appropriateness of altering the frequency of 
prescription burns to incorporate rare plant management, and for tern 
restoration efforts.
    4. We added language to several sections in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 
in the final CCP to incorporate more life history information and to 
refine our biological objectives and management actions for piping 
plover (pages 3-33, 3-35, 4-21, 4-23, and 4-24). This is due to the 
presence of a breeding pair on the island for the first time in 30 
    5. We corrected typographical and grammatical errors identified by 

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received on our EA/draft CCP, we 
have selected Alternative C for implementation, for several reasons. 
Alternative C comprises the mix of actions that, in our professional 
judgment, works best toward achieving refuge purposes, our vision and 
goals, and the goals of other State and regional conservation plans, 
and it is most consistent with the principles of sound fish and 
wildlife management. We also believe it most effectively addresses the 
key issues raised during the planning process. The basis of our 
decision is detailed in Appendix K, Finding of No Significant Impact, 
in the final CCP.

Public Availability of Documents

    You can view or obtain documents as indicated under ADDRESSES.

     Dated: September 9, 2010.
James G. Geiger,
Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Hadley, MA 01035.
[FR Doc. 2010-25393 Filed 10-7-10; 8:45 am]