[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 204 (Friday, October 21, 2011)]
[Pages 65525-65526]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-27263]

[[Page 65525]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-R-2011-N134; 60138-1265-6CCP-S3]

Huron, Madison, and Sand Lake Wetland Management District; 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce 
that our draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and environmental 
assessment (EA) for the Huron, Madison, and Sand Lake Wetland 
Management Districts is available. This draft CCP/EA describes how the 
Service intends to manage these wetland management districts for the 
next 15 years.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
on the draft CCP/EA by November 21, 2011. Submit comments by one of the 
methods under ADDRESSES.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods.
    E-mail: bernardo_garza@fws.gov. Include ``South Dakota WMDs Draft 
CCP/EA'' in the subject line of the message.
    U.S. Mail: Bernardo Garza, Planning Team Leader, Division of Refuge 
Planning, P.O. Box 25486--DFC, Denver, CO 80225-0486.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bernardo Garza, 303-236-4377 (phone); 
303-236-4792 (fax); or bernardo_garza@fws.gov (e-mail) or David C. 
Lucas, 303-236-4366 (phone): 303-236-4792 (fax): or david_c_lucas@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Huron Wetland Management District 
(district), Madison Wetland Management District, and Sand Lake Wetland 
Management District are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. 
Together, these three districts manage 445 waterfowl production areas 
(WPA); over 378,000 acres of wetland easements, and more than 616,000 
acres of grassland easements and other lands, such as Farmers Home 
Administration lands, in 27 counties in northern and eastern South 
Dakota. The lands managed by these districts comprise a mosaic of 
wetlands and grasslands which, with only few exceptions, are all within 
an area known as the prairie pothole region. These wetlands range from 
seasonal shallow basins to deeper, more permanent ponds that provide 
resting and feeding areas for millions of migratory birds during spring 
and fall migration, and year round for many other resident wildlife 
    The fee lands administered by these three districts provide 
opportunities for the public to enjoy compatible wildlife-dependent 
public use activities including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, 
photography, environmental education, and interpretation. Domestic 
livestock grazing, prescribed fire, and haying are the primary 
management tools used to maintain and enhance WPA habitats. Where 
available, water level manipulation is used to improve wetland 
habitats. Invasive and nonnative plant species are controlled and 
eradicated in ongoing and methodical cooperative management activities 
with county governments and adjacent landowners.
    Large, intact, native prairie communities can still be found 
throughout the area encompassed by these districts providing nesting 
habitat for a wide array of resident and migratory birds. As part of 
the central flyway, the concentration and variety of wetland types 
found in the planning area attracts thousands of migrating shorebirds 
and waterfowl to the district's lands.

Alternatives for the Overall Management of the Districts

    The draft CCP/EA for the Huron, Madison, and Sand Lake Wetland 
Management Districts includes the analyses and description of three 
alternatives, including the No Action or Current Management 
Alternative, for the management of the district.
    Alternative A, Current Management (No Action). Under this 
alternative, management activities currently conducted by the Service 
throughout all three districts would not change. The no-action 
alternative provides the baseline against which to compare other 
alternatives. It is also a requirement of the National Environmental 
Policy Act that a no-action alternative be addressed in the planning 
process. The Service would not develop any new management, restoration, 
education, or visitor services programs for the districts. Staff would 
not expand or change current habitat and wildlife management practices 
conducted for the benefit of waterfowl, migratory birds, and other 
wildlife. Staff would conduct monitoring, inventory, and research 
activities at their current level (that is, limited, issue-driven 
research and limited avian and vegetative monitoring and inventory). 
Funding and staff levels would not change, and programs would follow 
the same direction, emphasis, and intensity as they do at present.
    Alternative B, Increased Efficiency (proposed action). Under this 
alternative, management of the three districts would emphasize 
developing and implementing an improved, science-based priority system 
to restore native prairie habitats for the benefit of waterfowl and 
other migratory birds. District staff would focus on high-priority 
tracts and, when possible, on medium-priority tracts. The focus of this 
alternative would be to restore ecological processes and native 
grassland species to the greatest extent possible within the parameters 
of available resources and existing budgetary and staffing constraints. 
Under this alternative, district staff would seek to maintain the 
existing levels and types of public use programs, ensuring that 
programs offered to the public are of consistently high quality.
    Alternative C, Increased Efficiency with Expanded Resources. Under 
this alternative, management would follow the same prioritization 
system for restoration and management as under alternative B, but it 
would be based on projected staffing and funding increases. The 
management focus, like that of alternative B, would follow an improved 
prioritization system, but would also widen into additional existing 
WPAs. With increased funding and staffing, acquisition of new WPAs in 
fee title would also increase. Similarly, increased funding and 
staffing would enable commensurate increases in the number and scope of 
partnerships. The districts would continue to provide the same types of 
public uses but would expand the scope and quality of these 
    Under Alternative C, targeting management of native prairie/wetland 
complexes would be more intensive and widespread. District staff would 
seek out projects for restoring high-quality native prairie in both 
high-and-low-priority tracts. This alternative would have the potential 
to provide additional management options to address habitat 
requirements and wildlife needs. The staff would seek to develop new 
environmental education and other public use programs as well as to 
reach out to new users. As under alternative B, the Service proposes, 
at a future date, a new administration/visitor center for the Huron WMD 
at the Taha-Mahopi WPA near the City of Huron, South Dakota.

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Public Meetings and Availability of Comments

    The Service will carry out open house public meetings during the 
public review period. District staff will be available during those 
public meetings to address questions from the attending public and 
provide printed or electronic copies (on compact discs) of the draft 
plan to anyone requesting them. Please visit the following Web sites 
for dates and other details regarding the upcoming public meetings.
    Huron WMD: http://www.fws.gov/huronwetlands/.
    Madison WMD: http://www.fws.gov/madisonwetlands/.
    Sand Lake WMD: http://www.fws.gov/sandlake/.
    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. We will not consider anonymous comments. We will always 
make submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives of or officials of 
organizations or businesses, available for public inspection in their 
    The environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); NEPA 
Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508); Department of Interior NEPA 
regulations; other appropriate Federal laws and regulations; Executive 
Order 12996 ``Management and General Public Use of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System''; the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997; and Service policies and procedures for 
compliance with those laws and regulations.

    Dated: July 21, 2011.
Noreen E. Walsh,
Deputy Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2011-27263 Filed 10-20-11; 8:45 am]