[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 84 (Monday, May 2, 2011)]
[Pages 24511-24512]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-10547]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2010-N277; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico; Draft 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of our draft comprehensive conservation plan and 
environmental assessment (Draft CCP/EA) for Cabo Rojo National Wildlife 
Refuge (NWR) for public review and comment. In the Draft CCP/EA, we 
describe the alternative we propose to use to manage this refuge for 
the 15 years following approval of the final CCP.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by June 1, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the Draft CCP/EA by contacting Ms. 
Laura Housh, Regional Planner, Okefenokee NWR, 2700 Suwannee Canal 
Road, Folkston, GA 31537. Alternatively, you may download the document 
from our Internet Site at http://southeast.fws.gov/planning under 
``Draft Documents.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Laura Housh, at 912/496-6273 
(telephone) or laura_housh@fws.gov (e-mail); or Mr. Oscar D[iacute]az, 
at 787/851-7258, extension 312 (telephone), or oscar_diaz@fws.gov (e-



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Cabo Rojo NWR. We 
started the process through a notice of intent in the Federal Register 
on March 12, 2007 (72 FR 11047). For more about the refuge, its 
purposes, and our CCP process, please see that notice.


The CCP Process

    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, 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 
    The refuge lies along a coastal plain and has a few gently rolling 
hills overlooking the southwestern tip of Puerto Rico. The 
establishment of the refuge was justified for the potential value that 
the habitat held for migratory birds and also for its value in 
providing habitat for resident birds, particularly doves and pigeons. 
The area is one of the few blocks of land in southwestern Puerto Rico 
west of the Gu[aacute]nica Commonwealth Forest remaining in public 
ownership. The native vegetation is classified as subtropical dry 
forest under the Holdridge classification of world life zones. At least 
245 plant species and 145 bird species have been identified on the 

CCP Alternatives, Including Our Proposed Alternative

    We developed three alternatives for managing the refuge and chose 
Alternative C as the proposed alternative. A full description of each 
alternative is in the Draft CCP/EA. We summarize each alternative 

Alternative A (Current Management, No Action)

    Under this alternative, we would continue to restore and maintain 
existing sub-tropical dryland forests, salt lagoons, and grassland 
habitats. Active habitat wetland management would be implemented by 
continuing water level manipulations for management of the saltwater 
lagoons through a special use permit with a commercial salt production 
company. We would continue to accommodate environmental education and 
interpretation programs and wildlife observation and photography. The 
friends group, Caborroje[ntilde]os, would continue to partner with us 
in providing limited visitor services. The law enforcement program for 
the protection of wildlife and visitors would continue at current 

Alternative B (Resource Emphasis)

    Under this alternative, we would provide greater management of 
habitats and associated plant communities for the benefit of wildlife.
    Activities that would be expanded or introduced under this 
alternative would include: Managing endangered plant populations and 
reducing the occurrence of exotic species; exploring opportunities and 
alternatives to assume direct control of managing water levels in the 
saltwater lagoons; establishing and managing a larger nursery to 
increase reforestation of native tree species in upland areas; 
restoring additional freshwater and saltwater ponds to increase avian 
habitat; expanding the volunteer base to increase habitat restoration 
activities; and proactively expanding research collaboration with 
    Additional staff would be required to implement this alternative. 
Such staff would likely include a biologist, a volunteer coordinator, 
and additional support staff.

Alternative C (Habitat and Public Use Emphasis, Proposed)

    Under this alternative, our emphasis would be on improving refuge 
resources for habitat and wildlife. We would provide greater support 
for the visitor service program, including emphasis on the following: 
Developing a curriculum-based environmental education program; 
expanding the role of the friends group to include providing staffing 
and interpreting services at the new visitor services center; reviewing 
and updating our brochures and website, including offering a Spanish 
version of the website; updating current kiosks and building new kiosks 
along the trail system; expanding the volunteer program to also provide 
assistance with public use activities; seeking and developing new 
partnerships, particularly with regard to trail maintenance; and adding 
additional signage to clarify refuge uses.
    Additional staff required to implement Alternative C would include 
an additional visitor services/environmental education specialist and a 
volunteer coordinator. Additional infrastructure would also be required 
to expand activities under this alternative, including developing 
volunteer housing and acquiring one or more additional vehicles.

[[Page 24512]]

Next Step

    After the comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-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.


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

    Dated: January 5, 2011.
Mark J. Musaus,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2011-10547 Filed 4-29-11; 8:45 am]