[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 220 (Wednesday, November 14, 2012)]
[Pages 67830-67831]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-27611]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-R-2012-N231; FF06R06000-FXRS1265066CCP0-123]

Establishment of Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area, Colorado and 
New Mexico

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) has established the Sangre de Cristo Conservation 
Area as a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Service 
established the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area on September 14, 
2012, with the donation by Mr. Louis Bacon of an approximately 77,000-
acre conservation easement on the Trinchera Ranch in Costilla County, 

ADDRESSES: A map depicting the approved boundary and other information 
regarding the Conservation Area is available on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/planning/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Mike Dixon, Planning Team Leader,

[[Page 67831]]

Division of Refuge Planning, USFWS, P.O. Box 25486, DFC, Denver, CO 
80225. http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/planning/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Service has established the Sangre de 
Cristo Conservation Area in south-central Colorado and far northern New 
Mexico, including portions of Costilla County, Colorado, and Taos 
County, New Mexico. The Service will conserve wildlife resources in the 
conservation area, primarily through the purchase of perpetual 
easements from willing sellers. These easements will connect and expand 
existing lands under conservation protection to the north and south of 
the conservation area.
    The area's history of largely low-intensity agriculture is one of 
the key components to ensuring habitat integrity and wildlife resource 
protection. Based on anticipated levels of landowner participation, 
objectives for the conservation area are to protect 250,000 acres of 
habitat for Federal trust species. The conservation area is a 
landscape-scale effort to conserve populations of priority species in 
an approximately 1-million-acre region in the central Sangre de Cristo 
Mountains, the largest completely privately owned region of the 
southern Rocky Mountains. The prioritization for land protection will 
incorporate the elements of strategic habitat conservation (SHC) to 
ensure effective conservation. SHC entails strategic biological 
planning and conservation design, integrated conservation delivery, 
monitoring, and research at ecoregional scales.
    This conservation area allows the Service to purchase conservation 
easements using the acquisition authority of the Fish and Wildlife Act 
of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a-j) and the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 
1929 (16 U.S.C. 715-715d, 715e, 715f-r). The Federal money used to 
acquire conservation easements is from the Land and Water Conservation 
Fund Act of 1965, as amended (16 U.S.C. 460l-4 through 11; funds 
received under this act are derived primarily from oil and gas leases 
on the Outer Continental Shelf, motorboat fuel taxes, and the sale of 
surplus Federal property), and the sale of Federal Duck Stamps 
[Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act (16 U.S.C. 718-718j, 
48 Stat. 452)]. Additional funding to acquire lands, water, or 
interests for fish and wildlife conservation purposes could be 
identified by Congress or donated by nonprofit organizations. The 
purchase of easements from willing sellers will be subject to available 
    The Service has involved the public, agencies, partners, and 
legislators throughout the planning process for the easement program. 
At the beginning of the planning process, the Service initiated public 
involvement for the proposal to protect habitats through acquisition of 
conservation easements for management as part of the Refuge System. The 
Service spent time discussing the proposed project with landowners; 
conservation organizations; Federal, State, and county governments; 
tribes; and other interested groups and individuals. Scoping meetings 
were held on March 29, 30, and 31, 2011, in Alamosa, Monte Vista, and 
Moffatt, respectively. These meetings were announced in local and 
regional media.
    In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
(42 U.S.C. 4321), the Service prepared an environmental assessment (EA) 
that evaluated two alternatives and their potential impacts on the 
project area. The Service released the draft environmental assessment 
(EA) and LPP on May 9, 2012, for a 30-day public review period. The 
draft documents were made available to Federal elected officials and 
agencies, State elected officials and agencies, 17 Native American 
tribes with aboriginal or tribal interests, local media, and other 
members of the public that were identified during the scoping process.
    In addition, the Service held three public meetings on May 14, 15, 
and 16, 2012, at Alamosa, San Luis, and Moffatt, CO, respectively. 
These meetings were announced in advance in local and regional media. 
Approximately 50 landowners, citizens, and elected representatives 
attended the meetings. The Service received 14 letters from agencies, 
organizations, and members of the public. After all comments were 
received, they were reviewed, added to the administrative record, and, 
if substantial, incorporated into the environmental assessment (EA).
    Based on the documentation contained in the environmental 
assessment (EA), a Finding of No Significant Impact was signed on 
August 1, 2012, for the establishment of the Sangre de Cristo 
Conservation Area.

    Dated: November 5, 2012.
Noreen E. Walsh,
Acting, Regional Director, Mountain-Prairie Region, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-27611 Filed 11-13-12; 8:45 am]