[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 14 (Tuesday, January 22, 2013)]
[Pages 4430-4431]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-01171]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2012-N187; FXRS12650400000S3-123-FF04R02000]

Chassahowitzka 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 
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Citrus and Hernando 
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: Mr. Michael 
Lusk via U.S. mail at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, 1502 SE. 
Kings Bay Drive, Crystal River, FL 34429. Alternatively, you may 
download the document from our Internet Site, http://southeast.fws.gov/planning, under ``Final Documents.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Mary Morris, at 850-567-6202 
(telephone), or crystalriverCCP@fws.gov (email).



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Chassahowitzka 

[[Page 4431]]

started the process through a notice in the Federal Register on June 8, 
2009 (74 FR 27173). For more about the refuge and our planning process, 
please see that notice.
    Located about 60 miles north of Tampa, the 30,843-acre 
Chassahowitzka NWR was established for wintering waterfowl and other 
migratory birds. In 1976, Congress designated 23,579 acres of the 
refuge as ``Wilderness.'' Chassahowitzka NWR is managed as a part of 
the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Complex).
    The refuge's diverse ecosystems, including prime estuarine habitat, 
hosts a myriad and abundance of flora and fauna. The marshlands, 
swamplands, shallow bays, and tidal streams provide the quantity and 
quality of aquatic plant and animal life required to support thousands 
of wintering waterfowl, marsh birds and waterbirds, shorebirds, fishes, 
and a variety of animal species that depend on a marine environment. 
The refuge also has 2,560 acres of hardwood swamplands and 250 acres of 
upland forest. Notable imperiled species include Florida manatees and 
an experimental population of whooping cranes introduced to the marsh 
habitats over a decade ago by means of a partnership.


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 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 11, 2012 
(77 FR 27792). We provided over 125 copies of the Draft CCP/EA to 
individuals or organizations requesting copies. A total of 22 
individuals, organizations, and government agencies provided comments 
on the Draft CCP/EA by U.S. mail or email. Comments were received from 
many organizations, including Save the Manatee Club, Inc.; United 
Waterfowlers of Florida, Inc.; Citrus County Airboat Alliance; 
Southwest Florida Water Management District; Citrus County Planning; 
City of Crystal River; National Park Service, Planning and Compliance 
Division, Southeast Region; U.S. Geological Survey; Florida Fish and 
Wildlife Conservation Commission; Florida Department of State; and the 
Florida Clearinghouse.

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 relies on our extensive partnerships 
and promotes some new ones. We will hire a volunteer coordinator to 
recruit and train a volunteer corps for every program area. This 
alternative proposes additional staffing (a total of eight new 
positions for the Complex) to provide optimal resource protection and 
management capability. Research will include a broader suite of 
species, as well as habitat studies to adaptively manage for wildlife 
populations. The impacts of commercial and visitor use and external 
threats to the refuge will be studied and the results of those studies 
applied to refuge management and public use. Upland uses will be 
promoted though the development of improved facilities and access, and 
an observation platform and kayak landing will be added to the Dog 
Island facility.
    The addition of key positions, such as a law enforcement officer, 
the volunteer coordinator, and the biological and computer-mapping 
technicians, will allow for greater resource study, mapping, data 
analysis, and enforcement. The hiring of a wildlife specialist and 
office assistant will support staff and provide a dedicated outreach 
coordinator. Refuge facilities will be improved for both visitor 
services and personnel. The existing house that serves as the Complex 
headquarters will be demolished, and a new headquarters and visitor 
contact station will be built. We will also construct a pole barn near 
the maintenance shop in which to store equipment, and will make 
improvements to the maintenance area and shop. All alternatives provide 
for ``green'' options, materials, and energy efficiency in the design 
and construction of new facilities and in equipment replacement.


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

    Dated: August 17, 2012.
Mark J. Musaus,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2013-01171 Filed 1-18-13; 8:45 am]