[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 184 (Monday, September 23, 2013)]
[Pages 58340-58342]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-23107]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-R-2013-N158; FXRS1265066CCP0-134-FF06R06000]

Cokeville Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Lincoln County, WY; 
Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; announcement of meeting; request for 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce 
that our draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and environmental 
assessment (EA) for the Cokeville Meadows National Wildlife Refuge 
(Refuge) is available for public review and comment. The draft CCP/EA 
describes how the Service intends to manage this Refuge for the next 15 
years. We provide this notice in compliance with our CCP policy to 
advise the public, other Federal and State agencies, and Tribes of the 
availability of the draft CCP/EA and to solicit comments.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
on the draft CCP/EA by October 21, 2013. Submit comments by one of the 
methods under ADDRESSES. We will hold a public meeting; see Public 
Meeting under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for the date, time, and 

ADDRESSES: Send your comment or requests for more information by any of 
the following methods.
    Email: seedskadee@fws.gov. Include ``Cokeville Meadows NWR Draft 
CCP and EA'' in the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Bernardo Garza, 303-236-4792.
    U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Refuge 
Planning, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225.
    In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call 303-236-4377 to make 
an appointment (necessary for view/pickup only) during regular business 
hours at 134 Union Boulevard, Suite 300, Lakewood, CO 80228.
    Document Request: A copy of the CCP/EA may be obtained by writing 
to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Refuge Planning, 134 
Union Boulevard, Suite 300, Lakewood, CO 80228; or by download from 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bernardo Garza, 303-236-4377, (phone) 
or bernardo_garza@fws.gov (email); or David C. Lucas, 303-236-4366 
(phone), P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0486.



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for the Cokeville 
Meadows NWR. We started this process through a notice in the Federal 
Register (74 FR 57328; November 5, 2009). This notice complies with our 
CCP policy to (1) advise other Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and 
the public of the availability of the draft CCP/EA for this refuge and 
(2) to obtain comments on the information provided in the draft CCP/EA.


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Refuge Administration Act), as amended by the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, requires us to 
develop a CCP for each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System 
(Refuge System). The purpose for developing a CCP is to provide refuge 
managers with a 15-year plan for achieving the purposes for which their 
refuge was established and contributing toward the mission of the 
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 and photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update 
the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with the Refuge 
Administration Act.

The Refuge

    Cokeville Meadows NWR was established in 1993 for the conservation 
of the wetlands of the nation, in order to maintain the public benefits 
they provide and to help fulfill international obligations contained in 
various migratory bird treaties and conventions, as well as for use as 
an inviolate sanctuary for migratory birds. This refuge is bisected 
throughout its length by the Bear River and contains a mosaic of wet 
meadows and cattail/bulrush sloughs. Many of these wetlands were 
originally created and maintained by agricultural practices. The shrub-
steppe uplands are dominated by sagebrush and a combination of grasses 
typical of the arid West. Cokeville Meadows NWR provides nesting 
habitat for at least 32 water bird species; if developed, these 
habitats could provide suitable nesting habitat for more migratory bird 
species, including the trumpeter swan, a species of management concern. 
Refuge habitats also provide important habitat for resident species. 
Greater sage grouse use upland sagebrush areas for nesting, while 
riparian areas provide important feeding sites for their broods and a 
variety of neotropical migratory birds. Big game, including antelope, 
mule deer, and elk, also utilize Refuge habitats.

Public Outreach

    We started the CCP for the Cokeville Meadows NWR in early November 
2009, by inviting the Wyoming Game, Fish and Parks Department and 12 
Native American tribal governments to participate in the planning 
process. The planning team was assembled in late November during the 
CCP Kickoff Meeting. We developed a mailing list and sent a planning 
update to all individuals and groups on that list. The planning update 
included basic information on the Refuge, the planning process, how the 
public could provide comments and become involved in the planning 
process, and the dates, times, and places of the two public meetings we 
held in public venues in two communities near the Refuge (also in 
November). At that time and throughout the process, we requested public 
comments and considered and incorporated them in numerous ways. 
Comments we received cover topics such as invasive plant control on 
refuge lands, opening the refuge to hunting and fishing opportunities, 
improvement of the water quality and fisheries in the Bear River, 
public access to the Refuge, and the Refuge habitats' management tools 
(e.g., grazing, haying, farming, water flooding, etc.). We have 
considered and evaluated all of these comments, with many incorporated 
into the various alternatives addressed in the draft CCP and the EA.

[[Page 58341]]

CCP Alternatives We Are Considering

    During the public scoping process with which we started work on 
this draft CCP, we, State of Wyoming wildlife officials, 
representatives of the City of Cokeville, the Lincoln County Planning 
Department, the Bureau of Land Management, and the public raised 
several issues. Our draft CCP addresses them. A full description of 
each alternative is in the EA. To address these issues, we developed 
and evaluated the following alternatives, summarized below.

                                                        Alternative B:                          Alternative D:
                                    Alternative A:       Hydrology and      Alternative C:      Landscape-level
                                  Current management        Habitat            Resource           management
                                      (No action)         Restoration         enhancement      (Proposed action)
Public Access to Refuge Lands to  Refuge remains      The Refuge:         Same as             Same as
 Engage in Wildlife-Dependent      closed to public   Maintains the        Alternative B.      Alternative C.
 Public Uses.                      access except for   existing open       Plus:               Plus:
                                   information         areas;.            Refuge staff seeks  Refuge staff
                                   kiosk, walking     Opens new access     partners to         expands
                                   trail at Netherly   points and areas    restore Bear        partnerships
                                   Slough and          of the refuge to    River riparian      throughout
                                   headquarters, and   migratory bird,     corridor to         Wyoming's Bear
                                   to opportunistic,   big and small       improve the         River watershed
                                   staff-guided,       game hunting, and   river's water and   to improve
                                   environmental       fishing;.           fisheries           habitats and
                                   education          Seeks to provide     quality..           movement
                                   programs.           self-guided                             corridors for
                                                       interpretive                            wildlife and
                                                       opportunities;.                         fishes.
                                                       observation and
Habitat and Wildlife Management.  Continue current    Haying and grazing  Upland habitats     Same as
                                   levels of           used to manage      are managed and     Alternative C.
                                   irrigation,         refuge habitats.    restored to
                                   haying, and        Agricultural crops   increase wildlife
                                   grazing to manage   used solely as a    productivity and
                                   refuge habitats.    tool to             diversity.
                                                       reestablish        Wet meadow and
                                                       native habitats.    wetland habitats
                                                      Consider removing    are managed with
                                                       water management    water diversions
                                                       infrastructure to   from the Bear
                                                       replace current     River..
                                                       irrigation with    Agricultural
                                                       overbank flooding   practices are
                                                       during river high   geared to enhance
                                                       flows to manage     refuge habitats
                                                       wet meadow and      for wildlife..
                                                       wetland habitats.
Monitoring and Research.........  Maintain            Same as             Same as             Same as
                                   partnerships on     Alternative A.      alternative A,      Alternative C,
                                   limited and                             but in more         plus the refuge:
                                   opportunistic                           programmatic       Expands
                                   monitoring of                           fashion. Plus the   partnerships to
                                   wildlife                                staff:              include new
                                   populations,                           Pursues funding      partners
                                   habitats and                            and research        throughout
                                   water quality                           opportunities       Wyoming's Bear
                                   conditions.                             with higher         River watershed.
                                  Continue                                 education
                                   permitting                              institutions;.
                                   research                               Actively seeks new
                                   activities when                         partners to
                                   compatible with                         enhance its
                                   refuge purposes.                        monitoring
Invasive Species................  Continue            Same as             Same as             Same as
                                   coordinating and    Alternative A.      Alternative B.      Alternative B.
                                   working with the    Plus the staff:                         Plus:
                                   Lincoln County to  Works with                              The staff expands
                                   monitor and         cooperators to                          its involvement
                                   control treat       address invasive                        and partnerships
                                   invasive plants     aquatic species                         to control
                                   through             throughout Bear                         invasive species
                                   integrated pest     River watershed..                       throughout
                                   management,        Works with                               Wyoming's Bear
                                   including           partners to                             River watershed.
                                   chemical,           control carp, and
                                   biological, and     improve water
                                   mechanical          quality on refuge
                                   methods.            wet meadow and
                                                       riverine habitats.
Wildlife Disease, Crop            Continue work with  The refuge          Same as             Same as
 Depredation, and Wildlife         the State to        establishes hunt    Alternative B.      Alternative B.
 Damage to Private Property.       separate elk herd   program which
                                   from cattle on      would alleviate
                                   refuge lands to     wildlife and
                                   keep wildlife       cattle comingling
                                   diseases from       and crop
                                   domestic cattle.    depredation
                                  Continue to grow     issues.
                                   small grain crops
                                   on refuge lands
                                   to keep migratory
                                   birds from
                                   depredating on
                                   private crops..

[[Page 58342]]

Funding, Staffing,                Refuge to remain    Staffing and        Same as             Same as
 Infrastructure, and               unmanned.           funding would       Alternative B.      Alternative B.
 Partnerships.                    No new or added      need to be
                                   vehicles,           expanded to:
                                   infrastructure or  Carry out the
                                   equipment.          plan;.
                                   Replace them only  Build and maintain
                                   as needed..         access roads,
                                  Current staffing     auto tour route,
                                   and funding will    and parking
                                   preclude pursuing   facilities;.
                                   new partnerships.. Maintain existing
                                                       and establish new

Public Meeting

    Opportunity for public input will be provided at the following 
public open house meeting.

             Date                      Time               Location
September 26, 2013............  5:30-7:30 p.m....  Cokeville High
                                                    School, Auditorium,
                                                    435 Pine Street,
                                                    Cokeville, WY 83114.

Next Steps

    After the public reviews and provides comments on the draft CCP and 
EA, the planning team will present this document, along with a summary 
of all substantive public comments, to the Regional Director. The 
Regional Director will consider the environmental effects of each 
alternative, including information gathered during public review, and 
will select a preferred alternative for the draft CCP and EA. If the 
Regional Director finds that no significant impacts would occur, the 
Regional Director's decision will be disclosed in a finding of no 
significant impact included in the final CCP. If the Regional Director 
finds a significant impact would occur, an environmental impact 
statement will be prepared. If approved, the action in the preferred 
alternative will compose the final CCP.

Public Availability of Comments

    All public comment information provided voluntarily by mail, by 
phone, or at meetings (e.g., names, addresses, letters of comment, 
input recorded during meetings) becomes part of the official public 
record. If requested under the Freedom of Information Act by a private 
citizen or organization, the Service may provide copies of such 


    The environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); NEPA 
Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508, 43 CFR Part 46); other appropriate 
Federal laws and regulations; Executive Order 12996; the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997; and Service policies 
and procedures for compliance with those laws and regulations.

    Dated: August 20, 2013.
Noreen Walsh,
Regional Director, Mountain-Prairie Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
[FR Doc. 2013-23107 Filed 9-20-13; 8:45 am]