[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 10 (Tuesday, January 15, 2013)]
[Pages 3026-3027]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-00658]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-R-2012-N232; FF06R06000-FXRS1265066CCP0S2-123]

Establishment of Swan Valley Conservation Area, Montana

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 Swan Valley Conservation Area as 
a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Service established 
the Swan Valley Conservation Area on August 6, 2012, with the donation 
of an 80-acre conservation easement in Missoula County, Montana.

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

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Toni Griffin, Planning Team Leader, 
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 Swan Valley 
Conservation Area in western Montana, including portions of Lake and 
Missoula Counties. The Service will conserve wildlife resources in the 
conservation area, primarily through the purchase of perpetual 
easements and a limited amount of fee-title from willing sellers. These 
easements will connect and expand existing lands under conservation 
protection. Fee-title purchases will be restricted to lands immediately 
adjacent to Swan River National Wildlife Refuge.
    The project will help ensure the perpetual conservation of one of 
the last undeveloped, low-elevation coniferous forest ecosystems in 
western Montana, in the greater Crown of the Continent ecosystem. Based 
on anticipated levels of landowner participation, objectives for the 
conservation area are to protect 10,000 acres of wildlife habitat 
through conservation easements and another 1,000 acres through fee-
title around the

[[Page 3027]]

existing Swan River National Wildlife Refuge. The conservation area is 
a component of the broader landscape-scale Crown of the Continent 
initiative to ensure the continued function of one of the only 
ecosystems in the United States which still contains essentially the 
full suite of species that were present during the Lewis and Clark 
expedition. 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 or fee title from willing sellers will be subject 
to available money.
    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 primarily through 
acquisition of wetland and grassland 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. Open house meetings were held 
on May 18 and June 2, 2010, in Condon, Montana. 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 July 26, 2010, for a 30-day public review period. The 
draft documents were made available to Federal elected officials and 
agencies, State elected officials and agencies, Native American tribes 
with aboriginal or tribal interests, local media, and other members of 
the public that were identified during the scoping process. The Service 
received six written comments 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 
September 24, 2010, for the authorization of the Swan Valley 
Conservation Area.

    Dated: August 24, 2012.
Steve Guertin,
Regional Director, Mountain-Prairie Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
[FR Doc. 2013-00658 Filed 1-14-13; 8:45 am]