Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
Notice of availability; request for comments.
We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and environmental assessment (EA) for the Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge, NWR) for public review and comment. In this draft CCP/EA we describe how we propose to manage the Refuge for the next 15 years.
To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments by April 22, 2015. We will hold an open house-style meeting during the comment period to receive comments and provide information on the draft plan. In addition, we will use special mailings, newspaper articles, Internet postings, and other media announcements to inform people of opportunities for input.
Send your comments or requests for more information by any of the following methods:
Email: email@example.com. Include “Whittlesey Creek Draft CCP/EA” in the subject line of the message.
Fax: Attention: Refuge Manager, Whittlesey Creek NWR, 715-685-2680.
U.S. Mail: Attention: Refuge Manager, Whittlesey Creek NWR, Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, 29270 County Highway G, Ashland, WI 54806.
In-Person Drop Off: You may drop off comments during regular business hours at the above addresses.
You will find the draft CCP/EA, as well as information about the planning process and a summary of the CCP, on the planning Web site at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/whittleseycreek/index.html.
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Tom Kerr, 715-246-7784.
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With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge, which we began by publishing a notice of intent in the Federal Register (78 FR 3909) on January 17, 2013. For more about the initial process and the history of this Refuge, see that notice.
The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Administration Act), requires us to develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose in 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 (NWRS), consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife management, conservation, legal mandates, and Service 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 Administration Act.
Each unit of the NWRS was established for specific purposes. We use these purposes as the foundation for developing and prioritizing the management goals and objectives for each refuge within the NWRS 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 that will ensure the best possible approach to wildlife, plant, and habitat conservation, while providing for wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities that are compatible with each refuge's establishing purposes and the mission of the NWRS.
The draft CCP/EA may be found at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/whittleseycreek/index.html. That document incorporates an EA, prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (43 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). The draft CCP/EA includes detailed information about the planning process, refuge, issues, and management alternatives considered and proposed. The EA includes discussions of four alternative refuge management options. The Service's preferred alternative is reflected in the draft CCP.Start Printed Page 15250
The alternatives analyzed in detail include:
- Alternative A: Current Management (No Action)—This alternative reflects the current management direction of Whittlesey Creek NWR. It provides the baseline against which to compare other alternatives. For NEPA purposes, this is referred to as the “No Action” alternative.
- Alternative B: Refuge and Watershed Restoration; Maintain Visitor Center Partnership (Preferred Alternative)—Under this alternative, prioritized focus areas for habitat restoration would be developed for the watershed and the Refuge using data from sediment and hydrology models. The quantity and quality of habitat for native brook trout and migratory waterfowl and shorebirds would increase. Stream and floodplain hydrology would better emulate natural seasonal and long-term variability. Current Service participation in the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center (NGLVC) would continue; Refuge staff would participate in NGLVC programs that align with the NWRS mission and Refuge purposes.
- Alternative C: Watershed Restoration; Expand Visitor Center Partnership—Under this alternative, habitat restoration would focus on reducing sedimentation and flood peaks in the Whittlesey Creek watershed. The quantity and quality of habitat for native brook trout would increase and stream hydrology would better emulate natural seasonal and long-term variability. Service participation in the NGLVC would increase, and Refuge visitor services activities would focus on NGLVC programs and special events.
- Alternative D: Refuge Restoration; Reduce Visitor Center Partnership—Under this alternative, habitat restoration would focus on floodplain forest, wetlands, and streams within the Refuge boundary. The quality of habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds would improve and floodplain hydrology would better emulate seasonal and long-term variability. Service participation in the NGLVC would decrease; Refuge staff and visitor services activities would move off site.
We will give the public an opportunity to provide input at a public meeting. You can obtain the schedule from the address or Web site listed in this notice (see ADDRESSES). You may also submit comments anytime during the comment period.
Public Availability of Comments
Before including your address, phone number, email 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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Charles M. Wooley,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2015-06577 Filed 3-20-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P