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Notice

John Hay National Wildlife Refuge, Merrimack County, NH

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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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 an associated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document for John Hay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). We provide this notice in compliance with our planning policy to advise other agencies, Tribes, and the public of our intentions, and to obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to consider. We are also requesting public comments.

DATES:

To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments by January 15, 2009. We will hold public meetings to begin the CCP planning process; see Public Meetings under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. We will announce opportunities for public input in local news media throughout the CCP planning process, and will announce upcoming public meetings in local news media and the refuge Web site.

ADDRESSES:

Send your comments or requests for more information by any one of the following methods:

Electronic mail: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include “John Hay NWR CCP/EA” in the subject line of the message.

U.S. Postal Service: Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex, 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, MA 01776.

In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call 978-443-4661 to make an appointment during regular business hours at the Sudbury address.

Fax: 978-443-2898.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Andrew French or Barry Parrish, Refuge/Project Leader, at 413-558-8002, or Carl Melberg, Planning Team Leader, at 978-443-4661.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

With this notice, we initiate our process for developing a CCP for John Hay NWR in Merrimack County, New Hampshire. We provide this notice in compliance with our planning policy to Start Printed Page 76377(1) advise other Federal and State agencies and the public of our intention to conduct detailed planning on this refuge, and (2) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of topics 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 (Improvement Act) (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), 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 plan for achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), 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 Improvement Act and NEPA.

We establish each unit of the NWRS for specific purposes. We use these purposes as the basis to develop and prioritize management goals and objectives for the refuge within the NWRS mission, and to determine how the public can use the 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 the refuge's establishing purposes and the mission of the NWRS. Our CCP process provides opportunities for Tribal, State, and local governments; agencies; organizations; and the public to participate. At this time, we encourage the public to provide input in the form of issues, concerns, ideas, and suggestions for the future management of John Hay NWR.

We will conduct the environmental review of this environmental assessment in accordance with the requirements of NEPA, as amended (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.

John Hay National Wildlife Refuge

John Hay NWR was the former summer estate of historic figure John Hay. It was donated to the Service in 1972 by Alice Hay to be used as a migratory bird and wildlife reservation. Currently, the refuge consists of approximately 80 acres on the shores of Lake Sunapee in Newbury, New Hampshire, and consists of upland northern forests, and undeveloped shoreline. These areas serve the habitat needs of waterfowl, wading birds, and raptors.

Scoping: Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities

We have identified preliminary issues, concerns, and opportunities that we may address in the CCP. We have briefly summarized these issues below. During public scoping, we may identify additional issues.

Public use throughout the refuge will be reevaluated in relation to wildlife-dependent recreation and other mission compatible uses. These include an ADA-compliant interpretive nature trail, overlooks, and a trailhead at the Fells parking area. We will also explore different visitor use options for the refuge.

Access to the refuge from the adjacent Fells property needs to be coordinated in terms of the use of their parking area or the creation of a second parking area, and the establishment of a trailhead or other interpretive information on their property.

We need to address how the Service can create a more visible presence at the refuge and the adjacent Fells property. Potential avenues are through signs, kiosks, and seasonal staff.

Public Meetings

We will involve the public through open houses, informational and technical meetings, and written comments. We will release mailings, news releases, and announcements to provide information about opportunities for public involvement in the planning process. You can obtain the schedule from the planning team leader or project leader (see ADDRESSES). You may also submit comments anytime during the planning process by mail, electronic mail, or fax (see ADDRESSES). There will be additional opportunities to provide public input once we have prepared a draft CCP.

We anticipate that public meetings will be held in Newbury, New Hampshire. For specific information including dates, times, and locations, contact the project leader (see ADDRESSES) or visit our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/​northeast/​johnhay.

Public Availability of Comments

Our practice is to make comments, including names, home addresses, home phone numbers, and electronic mail addresses of respondents available for public review. Individual respondents may request that we withhold their names and/or home addresses, etc., but if you wish us to consider withholding this information, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comments. In addition, you must present a rationale for withholding this information. This rationale must demonstrate that disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy. Unsupported assertions will not meet this burden. In the absence of exceptional, documentable circumstances, this information will be released. We will always make submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives of or officials of organizations or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.

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Dated: October 1, 2008.

Wendi Weber,

Acting Regional Director, Northeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hadley, Massachusetts.

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[FR Doc. E8-28914 Filed 12-15-08; 8:45 am]

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