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Notice

Pine Island, Caloosahatchee, and Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuges, Lee County, FL; Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Charlotte County, FL

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Notice of intent to prepare a comprehensive conservation plan and environmental assessment; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and environmental assessment (EA) for Pine Island, Caloosahatchee, Matlacha Pass, and Island Bay National Wildlife Refuges. These refuges are located within the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Complex. We provide this notice in compliance with our CCP policy to advise other Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and the public of our intentions, and to obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to consider in the planning process.

DATES:

To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments by May 19, 2008. We will hold public meetings to begin the CCP planning process. We will announce opportunities for public input in the local news media throughout the CCP planning process. Open house meetings will be scheduled and held throughout the scoping phase of the comprehensive conservation plan development process.

ADDRESSES:

Comments, questions, and requests for more information regarding the planning process should be sent to: Laura Housh, Regional Planner, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Route 2, Box 3330, Folkston, GA 31537.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Laura Housh; Telephone: 912/496-7366, Extension 244; Fax: 912/496-3332.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

With this notice, we initiate our process for developing a CCP for Pine Island, Caloosahatchee, and Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuges, Lee County, FL; and Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Charlotte County, FL.

This notice complies with our CCP policy to (1) advise other Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and the public of our intention to conduct detailed planning on these refuges, and (2) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to consider in the environmental document and during development of the CCP.

Background

The CCP Process

The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Improvement Act), which amended the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, 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 strategy 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 Start Printed Page 17994direction 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 Improvement Act.

Congress established each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System for specific purposes. We use these purposes as the foundation for developing and prioritizing the management goals and objectives for each refuge within the National Wildlife Refuge System mission, and to determine how the public can use each refuge. The planning process is a way for us and the public to evaluate management goals and objectives for the best possible conservation approach to this important wildlife habitat, while providing for wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities that are compatible with each refuge's establishing purposes and the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Our CCP process provides participation opportunities for Tribal, State, and local governments; agencies; organizations; and the public. At this time we encourage input in the form of issues, concerns, ideas, and suggestions for the future management of Pine Island, Island Bay, Caloosahatchee, and Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuges.

We will conduct the environmental assessment in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); NEPA regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508); other appropriate Federal laws and regulations; and our policies and procedures for compliance with those laws and regulations.

Each of the refuges is administered as part of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The purposes of each refuge are to protect and provide suitable habitat for threatened and endangered species, and to provide habitat for a wide diversity of shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl, raptors, and neotropical migratory birds.

Public Availability of Comments

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

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Authority: This notice is published under the authority of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, Public Law 105-57.

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Dated: February 13, 2008.

Cynthia K. Dohner,

Acting Regional Director.

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[FR Doc. E8-6834 Filed 4-1-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-55-P