[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 12 (Thursday, January 19, 2012)]
[Pages 2754-2755]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-1019]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2011-N241; FXRS12650400000S3-123-FF04R02000]

Establishment of Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge 
and Conservation Area

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
has approved the establishment of the Everglades Headwaters National 
Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area in Polk, Osceola, Highlands, and 
Okeechobee Counties, Florida. The Service establishes the Refuge and 
Conservation Area in order to support a connected conservation 
landscape; to provide quality habitats for native wildlife diversity 
and at-risk species; to enhance water quality, quantity, and storage; 
and to provide opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation.

DATES: This action was effective on December 16, 2011.

Resource Planner, at (321) 861-2368 (telephone) or Mr. Charlie Pelizza, 
Refuge Manager, at (772) 562-3909, extension 244 (telephone).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The establishment of the Everglades 
Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area will protect 
approximately 150,000 acres in central and south Florida, helping to 
protect and restore one of the great grassland and savanna landscapes 
of eastern North America, conserving one of the nation's prime areas of 
biological diversity. It will also help to address the threats from 
habitat fragmentation and urban development, altered ecological 
processes, and impacts from global climate change. The Service will 
work with willing landowners to create a 100,000-acre conservation area 
through conservation easements or other less-than-fee-title means, and 
a 50,000-acre national wildlife refuge.
    The authorities to establish and manage the Everglades Headwaters 
National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area are the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act [16 U.S.C. 668dd(a)(2)], 
Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1534), Emergency Wetlands Resources 
Act [16 U.S.C. 3901(b), 100 Stat. 3583], Migratory Bird Conservation 
Act (16 U.S.C. 715d), Fish and Wildlife Act [16 U.S.C. 742f(a)(4)], and 
Refuge Recreation Act (16 U.S.C. 460k-460k-4).
    Working with conservation land managers across this landscape, the 
Service will: (1) Manage the refuge and employ appropriate conditions 
for the conservation area to support a more connected and functional 
conservation landscape that will provide effective habitat connections 
between existing conservation areas and allow habitats and species to 
shift in response to urban development pressures and global climate 
change; (2) provide a wide range of quality Kissimmee River Basin 
habitats to support migratory birds, Federal- and State-listed species, 
State-designated species of special concern, and native wildlife 
diversity; (3) contribute to water quality, water quantity, and water 
storage capacity of the upper Everglades watershed to complement 
Everglades restoration goals and objectives and water quality and 
supply for central and south Florida; and (4) provide opportunities for 
hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation, while increasing knowledge 
of and support for conservation of the important grassland and savanna 
landscape of the headwaters of the Everglades.
    Several uses were evaluated in the interim compatibility 
determinations and determined to be compatible for the refuge. These 
included hunting, fishing, environmental education and interpretation, 
wildlife observation and photography, research, camping, hiking, 
horseback riding, bicycling, grazing, and off-road vehicle use (on 
designated roads and trails to support hunting and research). The 
Service is working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation 
Commission to establish a memorandum of understanding to also employ 
appropriate State wildlife management areas for hunting on properties 
acquired for the refuge.
    On September 8, 2011, the Service published a Federal Register 
notice (76

[[Page 2755]]

FR 55699) announcing the proposed establishment of the Everglades 
Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, and the 
release for public review and comment of the Draft Land Protection Plan 
and Draft Environmental Assessment in accordance with National 
Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR 1506.6 (b)) requirements. On October 
26, 2011, the Service published a Federal Register notice (76 FR 66321) 
announcing the extension of the comment deadline to November 25, 2011. 
With this extension, the public review and comment period on the Draft 
Land Protection Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment totaled 79 
    Based on the documentation in the Final Land Protection Plan and 
Final Environmental Assessment, the Regional Director of the Southeast 
Region of the Service signed a Finding of No Significant Impact on 
December 9, 2011. Along with the interim compatibility determinations, 
we have developed a Conceptual Management Plan, which will serve as an 
interim management plan until the Service develops a Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan and/or appropriate step-down management plans.


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

Daniel M. Ashe,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-1019 Filed 1-18-12; 8:45 am]