[Federal Register: February 18, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 32)]
[Page 7286-7287]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2009-N203; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Caroline, 
Essex, King George, Lancaster, Middlesex, Richmond, and Westmoreland 
Counties, VA

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 Rappahannock River Valley 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 ``Rappahannock 
final CCP'' in the subject line of the message.
    U.S. Postal Service: Joseph McCauley, Refuge Manager, Rappahannock 
River NWR Complex, 336 Wilna Road, Warsaw, VA 22572-1030.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call 804-333-1470 to make an 
appointment during regular business hours at refuge headquarters in 
Warsaw, VA.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joseph McCauley, Refuge Manager, 
Rappahannock River Valley NWR, 336 Wilna Road, Warsaw, VA 22572-1030; 
804-333-1470 (phone); joseph_mccauley@fws.gov (electronic mail).



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Rappahannock 
River Valley NWR. We started this plan's development through a notice 
in the Federal Register (70 FR 65931) on November 1, 2005. We released 
the draft CCP/EA to the public, announcing and requesting comments in a 
notice of availability in the Federal Register (74 FR 36500) on July 
23, 2009.
    Rappahannock River Valley NWR, consisting of more than 7,700 acres, 
was established in 1996 to conserve and protect fish and wildlife 
resources, including endangered and threatened species, and wetlands. 
Refuge habitats include freshwater tidal marsh, forested swamp, upland 
deciduous forest, mixed pine forest, and managed grassland. One 
federally listed species, the threatened sensitive joint-vetch 
(Aeschynomene virginica), is found on the refuge. The State of 
Virginia's largest wintering population of bald eagles is located 
within the refuge boundary. Neotropical migratory songbirds, 
shorebirds, raptors, and marsh birds also rely on the Rappahannock 
River corridor during their spring and fall migrations. With help from 
partners and volunteers, we are restoring native grasslands and 
riparian forests along the river and its tributary streams to provide 
additional habitat for these important species.
    Although wildlife and habitat conservation is the refuge's first 
priority, the public can observe and photograph wildlife, fish, hunt, 
or participate in environmental education and interpretation on several 
units of the refuge. The refuge contains three sites on the Virginia 
Birding and Wildlife Trail. The Wilna Unit, located in Richmond County, 
offers accessible fishing, excellent wildlife observation 
opportunities, and accessible nature trails. Other units of the refuge 
are open for visits by reservation.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the FONSI for the 
final CCP for Rappahannock River Valley 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 Rappahannock 
River Valley 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 

[[Page 7287]]

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 

CCP Alternatives, Including Selected Alternative

    Our draft CCP/EA (74 FR 36500) 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, 
continuing to acquire land from willing sellers within our approved 
refuge boundary, and distributing refuge revenue-sharing payments to 
    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.
    Alternative B, the ``Service-Preferred Alternative,'' reflects a 
management emphasis on enhancing habitat diversity. Priorities under 
this alternative are protecting and restoring riparian and wetlands 
habitat, slightly expanding our grasslands management program on up to 
1,200 acres, and improving the habitat quality in planted pine stands. 
Our public-use programs would improve and expand as a result of 
engaging partners to help us implement them. New trails would be 
constructed, fishing access would increase, and we would evaluate new 
opportunities for hunting waterfowl and wild turkey. A new refuge 
headquarters and visitor contact facility would also be constructed on 
refuge lands.
    Alternative C resembles Alternative B in its proposal for 
facilities and public-use programs, but differs in its upland habitat 
management. Under Alternative C, we would allow the existing 700 acres 
of grasslands and old fields to revert to shrub and forest. Tree 
plantings, applying herbicides, and cutting or brush-hogging (mowing) 
would occur as necessary to achieve the desired results. Riparian and 
wetlands protection and restoration would be similar to Alternative B.


    We solicited comments on the draft CCP/EA for Rappahannock River 
Valley NWR from July 23, 2009, to August 24, 2009 (74 FR 36500). We 
received comments from 47 individuals, organizations, and State and 
Federal agencies on our draft plan via electronic mail, phone, and 
letters. All comments we received were evaluated. A summary of those 
comments and our responses to them is included as Appendix G in the 

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 
H of the CCP.

Public Availability of Documents

    You can view or obtain documents as indicated under ADDRESSES.

    Dated: December 30, 2009.
Dawn Comish,
Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Hadley, MA 01035.
[FR Doc. 2010-3051 Filed 2-17-10; 8:45 am]