[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 71 (Friday, April 12, 2013)]
[Pages 21964-21965]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-08740]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-R-2012-N250; 1265-0000-10137-S3]

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge Humboldt and Washoe Counties, 
NV, and Lake County, OR; Record of Decision for Final Environmental 
Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the record of decision (ROD) for the final 
environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Sheldon National Wildlife 
Refuge (Refuge). We completed a thorough analysis of the environmental, 
social, and economic considerations and presented it in our Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and EIS, which we released to the 
public on August 24, 2012.

DATES: The Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, signed the ROD on September 27, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of our final CCP and ROD by 
any of the following methods:
    Agency Web site: Download a copy of the document(s) at http://www.fws.gov/pacific/planning/main/docs/NV/docssheldon.htm.
    Email: Sheldon-Hart@fws.gov. Include ``Sheldon Refuge ROD'' in the 
subject line of the message.
    Mail: Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. 
Box 111, Lakeview, OR 97630.
    Fax: (541) 947-4414.
    In-person viewing: Copies of the final CCP/EIS and ROD may be 
viewed at the Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 
20995 Rabbit Hill Road, Lakeview, Oregon.
    Local Libraries: The final documents are also available for review 
at the libraries listed under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Aaron Collins, (541) 947-3315 ext. 



    With this notice, we complete the CCP planning process for the 
Refuge. We started this process with a Federal Register notice (73 FR 
27003; May 12, 2008). We released the draft CCP/EIS to the public, 
announcing and requesting comments in a notice of availability in the 
Federal Register (76 FR 55937; September 9, 2011). We announced the 
availability of the final CCP/EIS in the Federal Register (77 FR 51556) 
on August 24, 2012.
    The Refuge encompasses 575,000 acres of sagebrush-steppe habitat 
located in a remote area of northwest Nevada and southeast Oregon. The 
Refuge resides in the Great Basin, and was established in 1931 for the 
conservation and protection of the once-imperiled American pronghorn. 
Sheldon Refuge (along with the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge) 
now conserves habitat for a number of native, rare, and imperiled 
species of fish, wildlife, and plants that depend upon the sagebrush-
steppe ecosystem.
    In accordance with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 
1506.6(b)) requirements, this notice announces the availability of the 
ROD for the Refuge's final CCP/EIS. We completed a thorough analysis of 
the environmental, social, and economic considerations, which we 
included in the final CCP/EIS, and evaluated three management 
alternatives for the Refuge. The ROD documents our selection of 
Alternative 2, the preferred alternative, in the final CCP/EIS. The CCP 
will guide us in managing and administering the Refuge for the next 15 
years. Alternative 2, as we described in the final CCP/EIS and ROD, is 
the foundation for the CCP.


    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as 
amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 
(together referred to as the Refuge Administration Act), 16 U.S.C. 
668dd-668ee, requires us to develop a CCP for each 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. We will review and update the CCP at least every 15 years in 
accordance with the Refuge Administration Act.

CCP Alternatives and Selected Alternatives

    We identified several issues in our draft CCP/EIS. To address 
these, we developed and evaluated the following Refuge management 

Alternative 1 (No Action Alternative)

    Under Alternative 1, the no-action alternative, we would assume no 
change from current management; this alternative is considered the base 
from which to compare the other two alternatives. We would continue to 
focus our management activities on maintaining relatively stable 
populations of approximately 800 feral horses and 90 feral burros on 
Refuge lands. Fish populations in Big Spring Reservoir would be 
maintained through continued stocking of sterile rainbow trout. Our 
management of Refuge habitats would continue to include the use of 
prescribed fire and mechanical treatments to achieve habitat management 
    Current public uses including hunting, fishing, guiding, research, 
rock collecting, wildlife observation, photography, environmental 
education, and interpretation would continue. Opportunities to expand 
public uses or reduce ongoing resource impacts from public uses would 
be limited. Designated campgrounds and roads would be maintained at 
their current locations. We would continue to protect the natural 
primitive character and other resource values of the Refuge's 341,500 
acres recommended for wilderness designation in 1974, and provide 
opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation. Inventory, 
monitoring, and cultural and historic resources protection would 
continue to occur on the Refuge.

Alternative 2 (Preferred Alternative)

    Under Alternative 2, our preferred alternative, current fish, 
wildlife, habitat, and public use management would continue, with the 
following key enhancements. Native habitat conditions would improve, by 

[[Page 21965]]

all feral horses and burros from the Refuge within 5 years. Populations 
of trout species indigenous to the region--Lahontan cutthroat trout, 
Alvord cutthroat trout, or redband trout--would be maintained through 
restocking if necessary, replacing nonnative rainbow trout in Big 
Spring Reservoir and Virgin Creek. Control of noxious weeds and other 
invasive plants would increase, including weed control along road 
corridors. Western juniper would be removed where it is encroaching on 
sagebrush-steppe habitats. Degraded habitats would be rehabilitated and 
restored, using management techniques such as seeding, erosion control 
structures, and recontouring. Abandoned livestock water developments 
would be removed, and spring, playa, wet meadow, and stream habitats 
would be restored to more natural conditions where beneficial to 
    Recreation opportunities would improve by relocating and enlarging 
the visitor contact station, improving campground facilities, 
developing an accessible interpretive trail, creating a self-guided 
auto tour route, and improving signage of vehicle routes. We would 
reopen existing routes, following revisions to proposed Refuge 
wilderness area boundaries. Maintenance of improved gravel roads would 
occur more frequently. We would relocate up to nine campgrounds, and 
realign road segments to reduce erosion and impacts to sensitive 
riparian areas and cultural resources. Seasonal road closures would be 
implemented as appropriate, to protect sensitive species and habitats.
    A larger portion of Sheldon Refuge (424,360 acres) would be 
recommended for wilderness designation and managed for wilderness 
character under Alternative 2, encompassing some of the lands 
identified in Alternative 1, and additional wilderness study areas 
identified in the 2009 Sheldon Refuge Wilderness Review. We would 
increase our inventory and protection of historic and cultural 
resources, and improve historic and cultural resources interpretation.

Alternative 3

    Under Alternative 3, changes to current management would include 
removing all feral horses and burros from the Refuge over a period of 
15 years; replacing nonnative trout in Big Spring Reservoir with trout 
species indigenous to the region, but not maintaining the trout 
population through restocking; and managing habitats by creating 
conditions where natural processes such as fire could be allowed more 
frequently with less dependence on prescribed fire and other intensive 
management actions. Current public uses would continue; however, some 
facilities would be consolidated and some uses would be curtailed. 
Vehicle access to the Refuge would be reduced under Alternative 3 due 
to the closure of two roads and road maintenance limited to main 
routes, resulting in fewer miles of primitive routes open to the 
    The area managed for wilderness character would include 236,791 
acres, which would provide less long-term protection and preservation 
of wilderness values than the other alternatives. In addition, 
Alternative 3 would provide the least amount of protection and 
preservation of historic resources, compared to the other alternatives.

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received, we selected Alternative 
2, our preferred alternative, for implementation on the Refuge. 
Alternative 2 would result in the greatest improvements to native 
habitat conditions throughout the Refuge, would best meet the Service's 
policies and directives, is compatible with the Refuge's purposes, and 
would maintain balance among the Refuge's varied management needs and 

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to the methods in ADDRESSES, you can view the CCP at 
the following libraries.
    [ssquf] Lake County Public Library, 513 Center St., Lakeview, OR.
    [ssquf] Humboldt County Public Library, 85 East Fifth St., 
Winnemucca, NV.
    [ssquf] Washoe County Public Library, 301 South Center St., Reno, 

    Dated: April 4, 2013.
Richard R. Hannan,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific Region, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2013-08740 Filed 4-11-13; 8:45 am]