[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 10 (Tuesday, January 15, 2013)]
[Pages 3025-3026]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-00653]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2012-N218; FXRS12650400000S3-123-FF04R02000]

St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, FL; Final Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan and Finding of No Significant Impact for the 
Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
finding of no significant impact for the environmental assessment for 
St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Franklin and Gulf 
Counties, Florida. 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 Ms. Shelley 
Stiaes via U.S. mail at St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 
447, Apalachicola, FL 32329. Alternatively, you may download the 
document from our Internet site, http://southeast.fws.gov/planning, 
under ``Final Documents.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Shelley Stiaes, at 850-653-8808 
(telephone) or shelley_stiaes@fws.gov (email).



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for St. Vincent NWR. 
We started the process through a notice in the Federal Register on 
April 8, 2009 (74 FR 16002). For more about the process, see that 
    St. Vincent NWR is located in Franklin and Gulf Counties along the 
Gulf Coast of northwest Florida, approximately 60 miles from Panama 
City and 80 miles from Tallahassee. St. Vincent NWR's approved 
acquisition boundary is approximately 13,736 acres, with a current 
management boundary of approximately 12,490 acres. The staff oversees 
21 Farm Service Agency easements, totaling 1,625 acres in six counties. 
The 12,490-acre refuge boundary includes two islands--St. Vincent 
(12,358 acres) and Pig (46 acres). It also includes a mainland tract--
14 Mile Tract (86 acres).


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

[[Page 3026]]

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 Act.


    We made copies of the Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and 
Environmental Assessment (Draft CCP/EA) available for a 30-day public 
review and comment period via a Federal Register notice on May 2, 2012 
(77 FR 26035). We provided more than 125 copies of the Draft CCP/EA to 
those individuals or organizations requesting a copy. A total of 12 
individuals, organizations, and government agencies provided comments 
by U.S. mail or email. Comments were received from many organizations, 
including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission; University of South 
Florida; Florida State University; Florida Department of Environmental 
Protection; Florida Natural Areas Inventory; Choctaw Nation of 
Oklahoma; Jena Band of Choctaw Indians; and Florida Department of 
State, Division of Historical Resources; and several members of the 

CCP Alternatives, Including our Preferred Alternative

    We developed three alternatives for managing the refuge 
(Alternatives A, B, and C), with Alternative C selected for 
implementation. This alternative will focus on a greater effort to 
manage and protect the refuge's native and imperiled species. We will 
continue to survey and monitor species of federal responsibility, such 
as threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, and key native 
species, but will also gain a better understanding of native species on 
the refuge. Additional efforts will be made to protect and support 
nesting for key species, as well as gain a better understanding of 
population dynamics of some species. We will conduct evaluations to 
determine if it is suitable to reestablish populations of the eastern 
indigo snake, gopher tortoise, and eastern wild turkey on the refuge.
    We will continue to manage lakes 1, 2, and 3 by seasonal draw-downs 
to support the needs of shorebirds and wading birds. Lakes 4 and 5 will 
continue to support deep water for a freshwater fisheries program, with 
an occasional draw-down to manage vegetation within the system. Since 
the purchase of the refuge, there has been minimal emphasis on timber 
condition, so a forest habitat assessment will be conducted. The 
management of exotic, invasive, and nuisance animals and plants will be 
a focus, with emphasis on aggressively eradicating feral hogs.
    Wildlife-dependent recreational uses of the refuge will be 
expanded. We will allow hunting of white-tailed deer, sambar deer, and 
raccoon. Fishing will consist of saltwater and freshwater 
opportunities. Wildlife observation, wildlife photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation will be enhanced to focus on 
imperiled species, the unique barrier island history and ecosystem as 
they relate to the coastal environment, and management style 
incorporating climate change effects. We will enhance the environmental 
education program to incorporate Florida Sunshine Standards, while 
establishing guidelines for public programs. Vehicle tours that meet 
management objectives will continue as long as we have sufficient staff 
to support the program. In addition to the current staff, the following 
positions will be added: assistant refuge manager, wildlife biologist, 
maintenance worker, wildlife officer, visitor services specialist, and 
boat operator. We will also add a wildlife biologist under the Student 
Conservation Employment Program, continue our participation in the 
Youth Conservation Corps, and explore Student Conservation Association 
and AmeriCorps program opportunities.
    We will continue to use volunteers and strive to build stronger 
relationships with the Friends group and our partners to manage the 
resources, support the Strategic Habitat Conservation initiative, and 
the Landscape Conservation Cooperative. As climate change affects the 
refuge, we will increase research of species and habitat changes to 
support the best management decisions through adaptive management.
    We have included compatibility determinations in the final CCP for 
the following: (1) Hunting (Big Game); (2) Recreational Fishing; (3) 
Environmental Education and Interpretation; (4) Wildlife Observation 
and Photography; (5) Hiking, Jogging, Walking, and Bicycling; (6) 
Boating (canoeing and kayaking); (7) Camping (associated with hunting); 
(8) Firewood Gathering (associated with hunting); (9) General Research 
and Scientific Collecting; and (10) Beach Use and Shelling.


    This notice is published under the authority of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et 

    Dated: November 2, 2012.
Mark J. Musaus,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2013-00653 Filed 1-14-13; 8:45 am]