[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 99 (Tuesday, May 22, 2012)]
[Pages 30312-30314]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-12373]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2012-N062; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, Cayuga, Seneca, and Wayne 
Counties, NY; Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan and 
environmental assessment (draft CCP/EA) for Montezuma National Wildlife 
Refuge (NWR), located in Cayuga, Seneca, and Wayne Counties, New York, 
for public review and comment. The draft CCP/EA describes our proposal 
for managing the refuge for the next 15 years. Also available for 
public review and comment are: (1) The draft findings of 
appropriateness and draft compatibility determinations for uses to be 
allowed upon initial completion of the plan if Service-preferred 
alternative B is selected, (2) the EA for the refuge's hunt program, 
and (3) the EA for the refuge's fire program. These are included as 
appendix B, appendix E, and appendix H, respectively, in the draft CCP/

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments no 
later than June 21, 2012. We will announce upcoming public meetings in 
local news media, via our project mailing list, and on our regional 
planning Web site: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/planning/Montezuma/ccphome.html.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments or requests for copies or more 
information by any of the following methods. You may request hard 
copies or a CD-ROM of the documents.
    Email: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Please include ``Montezuma NWR 
Draft CCP'' in the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Lia McLaughlin, 413-253-8468.
    U.S. Mail: Lia McLaughlin, Natural Resource Planner, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035.
    In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call 315-568-5987 to make 
an appointment (necessary for view/pickup only) during regular business 
hours at 3395 Route 5/20 East, Seneca Falls, NY 13148-9778. [For more 
information on locations for viewing or obtaining documents, see 
``Public Availability of Documents'' under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Jasikoff, Refuge Manager, 315-568-
5987 (phone), or Lia McLaughlin, Planning Team Leader, 413-253-8575 
(phone); northeastplanning@fws.gov (email).



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Montezuma NWR. We 
started this process through a notice in the Federal Register (75 FR 
25286; May 7, 2010).
    Montezuma NWR was established in 1938 to provide nesting, feeding, 
and resting habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. Situated 
in Seneca, Wayne, and Cayuga Counties, the refuge currently encompasses 
9,184 acres. Refuge habitats include emergent marshes and shallow water 
mudflats, open water, bottomland floodplain forest, old fields and 
shrublands, croplands, grassland, and successional forest. The refuge 
is part of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, an area identified by the 
Service, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 
(NYSDEC), and other partners for its role in the conservation of 
migratory birds, particularly waterfowl. The refuge's public use 
program provides wildlife-oriented educational and recreational 
opportunities compatible with refuge management objectives. Public use 
facilities and programs include several trails, a visitor center, 
observation towers and platforms, fishing access sites, hunting 
programs, trapping program, educational programs and materials, guided 
tours, and other special programs.

[[Page 30313]]


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Refuge 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 and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will 
review and update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with 
the Refuge Administration Act.

Public Outreach

    We started pre-planning for the Montezuma NWR CCP in February 2010. 
In April 2010, we distributed our first newsletter and press release 
announcing our intent to prepare a CCP for the refuge. In May through 
June 2010, we had a formal public scoping period. The purpose of the 
public scoping period was to solicit comments from the community and 
other interested parties on the issues and impacts that should be 
evaluated in the draft CCP/EA. To help solicit public comments, we held 
two public meetings at the refuge during the formal public scoping 
period. Throughout the rest of the planning process, we have conducted 
additional outreach by participating in community meetings, events, and 
other public forums, and by requesting public input on managing the 
refuge and its programs. We received comments on topics such as the 
potential effects of climate change, improving habitat connectivity, 
relationship with the community and local economy, refuge facilities 
and staffing, and public uses of the refuge. We have considered and 
evaluated all of these comments, with many incorporated into the 
various alternatives addressed in the draft CCP/EA.

CCP Alternatives We Are Considering

    During the public scoping process, we, the NYSDEC, other 
governmental partners, and the public raised several issues. To address 
these issues, we developed and evaluated three alternatives in the 
draft CCP/EA. Here we present a brief summary of each of the 
alternatives; a full description of each alternative is in the draft 

Alternative A (Current Management)

    Alternative A (current management) satisfies the National 
Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requirement of a ``No 
Action'' alternative, which we define as ``continuing current 
management.'' It describes our existing management priorities and 
activities, and serves as a baseline for comparing and contrasting 
alternatives B and C. It would maintain our present levels of approved 
refuge staffing and the biological and visitor programs now in place. 
We would continue to focus on managing impoundments to provide emergent 
marsh and open water habitats for migrating and nesting wading birds, 
marshbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wildlife. We would also 
continue to actively control invasive species, manage grassland 
habitats, and improve riparian and other forested habitats. We would 
continue to provide opportunities for all six priority public uses: 
hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, environmental 
education, and interpretation.

Alternative B (Service-Preferred Alternative)

    This alternative is the Service-preferred alternative. It combines 
the actions we believe would most effectively achieve the refuge's 
purposes, vision, and goals, and respond to the issues raised during 
the scoping period. Under alternative B, emergent marsh management 
would remain the focus on the refuge. We would focus efforts on 
improving existing emergent wetland habitat and restoring additional 
acres, and re-establishing wetland and riparian forests, where 
feasible. More upland forest would be promoted through succession or 
planting native species. Additionally, shrubland acreage would 
increase, and grassland management would focus on creating larger 
patches with less edge, resulting in fewer grassland acres overall. 
Opportunities for visitors to participate in priority public uses would 
increase. Added trails, viewing areas, and photography blinds would 
support additional opportunities for wildlife observation and 
photography. We would develop a formal, curriculum-based environmental 
education program. Environmental interpretation would be enhanced 
through updated interpretive displays and associated services. The 
refuge would be opened to new hunting opportunities, and we would 
provide more accessible sites. Fishing opportunities would be increased 
by providing additional access to canal waters for anglers.

Alternative C (Less Active Habitat Management)

    Under alternative C, most emergent marsh habitat on the refuge 
would be allowed to convert to bottomland floodplain forest. Only the 
Main Pool, Tschache Pool, and visitor center wetland impoundments would 
be maintained. Newly acquired lands would not be converted to 
impoundments. Natural succession would play a larger role in shaping 
vegetative communities on the refuge compared to alternatives A and B. 
We would allow most upland early successional habitats to revert to 
forests. Compared to alternative A, opportunities for visitors to 
participate in priority public uses would increase under this 
alternative, but not to the extent proposed under alternative B. We 
would develop a few additional sites to support wildlife observation 
and photography. Interpretation would be somewhat increased with the 
expansion of the visitor contact station. Interpretive messages would 
be changed, reflecting the different focus of refuge management. 
Hunting opportunities would increase, similar to alternative B; 
however, waterfowl hunting would remain unchanged. Fishing 
opportunities would be the same as alternative B.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to any methods in ADDRESSES, you can view or obtain 
documents at the following locations:
     Our Web site: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/planning/Montezuma/ccphome.html.
     Public Library: the Seneca Falls Library, located at 47 
Cayuga Street, Seneca Falls, NY 13148, during regular library hours.

Submitting Comments/Issues for Comment

    We are seeking substantive comments, particularly on the following 
     Issue 1--public facilities and public uses;
     Issue 2--habitat restoration efforts; and
     Issue 3--partnership opportunities.
    We consider comments substantive if they:

[[Page 30314]]

     Question, with reasonable basis, the accuracy of the 
information in the document;
     Question, with reasonable basis, the adequacy of the EA;
     Present reasonable alternatives other than those presented 
in the EA; and/or
     Provide new or additional information relevant to the EA.

Next Steps

    After this comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them in the form of a final CCP and finding of no significant 

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email 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.

    Dated: April 26, 2012.
Wendi Weber,
Regional Director, Northeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2012-12373 Filed 5-21-12; 8:45 am]