[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 164 (Thursday, August 23, 2012)]
[Page 51044]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-20723]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2011-N172; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge, PR; Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Finding of No Significant Impact 
for Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the 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 for Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in 
Lajas, Puerto Rico. In the final CCP, we describe how we will manage 
this refuge for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the CCP by writing to: Mr. Oscar 
D[iacute]az, P.O. Box 510, Boquer[oacute]n, PR 00622. Alternatively, 
you may download the document from our Internet Site: http://southeast.fws.gov/planning/ under ``Final Documents.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Oscar D[iacute]az, at 787/851-7258 



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for the refuge. We 
started this process through a Federal Register notice on May 16, 2007 
(72 FR 27588).
    We announce our decision and the availability of the final CCP and 
FONSI for Laguna Cartagena NWR in accordance with the 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 comprehensive conservation plan and 
environmental assessment (Draft CCP/EA).
    Compatibility determinations for wildlife observation, wildlife 
photography, environmental education and interpretation, fishing, non-
commercial harvesting of wild tropical fruits and plants, haying, 
research studies, wildlife surveying and monitoring, scientific 
collections, and camping (associated with environmental education, 
interpretation, and conservation projects) are available in the CCP.


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 


    We made copies of the Draft CCP/EA available for a 30-day public 
review and comment period via a Federal Register notice on May 2, 2011 
(76 FR 24511). Several comments were received.

Selected Alternative

    We developed three alternatives for managing the refuge. After 
considering the comments we received and based on the professional 
judgment of the planning team, we selected Alternative B for 
implementation. Under Alternative B, we will provide greater management 
of all habitats and associated plant communities. We will reintroduce 
native fish to the lagoon and actively support birds that are 
threatened, endangered, or of management interest, including West 
Indian whistling ducks and kestrels.
    Under this alternative, specific activities that will be expanded 
or introduced will include: (1) Initiating surveys for bats, breeding 
birds, waterfowl, and species such as the Puerto Rican nightjar, 
yellow-shouldered black bird, and short-eared owl; (2) managing 
endangered plant populations, including Aristida chaseae; (3) 
constructing a plant nursery and increasing native vegetative planting 
in the uplands; (4) reducing the occurrence of exotic species; and (5) 
managing the lagoon's water quality and open-water restoration efforts.
    Under this alternative, we will conduct historical/archaeological 
surveys of the entire refuge. Visitor services facilities and programs 
will be expanded. Specifically, improving parking areas, providing 
additional directional signs, improving and updating our refuge Web 
site, creating a refuge brochure, developing a trail system and an 
additional photo platform at La Tinaja, and increasing onsite 
environmental education programs and community interpretive programs 
will all be undertaken under this alternative. We will also work to 
expand our volunteer program. Additional staff, such as a biologist, 
biological technician, two engineering equipment operators, forestry 
technician (fire), park ranger or environmental education specialist, 
GIS specialist (shared with other refuges in Puerto Rico, and law 
enforcement officer (shared with Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge), 
will be needed to implement this management action.


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

    Dated: August 31, 2011.
Mark J. Musaus,
Acting Regional Director.

    Editorial Note: This document was received at the Office of the 
Federal Register on August 20, 2012.

[FR Doc. 2012-20723 Filed 8-22-12; 8:45 am]