[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 79 (Wednesday, April 23, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 21978-21979]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-8760]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2008-N0006; 40136-1265-0000-S3]


Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, Volusia and Lake 
Counties, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: Draft comprehensive conservation plan 
and environmental assessment; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce the 
availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan and 
environmental assessment (Draft CCP/EA) for the Lake Woodruff National 
Wildlife Refuge for public review and comment. In this Draft CCP/EA, we 
describe alternatives, including our proposed action to manage this 
refuge for the 15 years following approval of the Final CCP. Also 
available for review and comment are draft compatibility 
determinations.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by May 23, 2008.

ADDRESSES: To provide written comments or to obtain a copy of the Draft 
CCP/EA, please contact Cheri Ehrhardt, Area Planner, Merritt Island 
National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 6504, Titusville, FL 32782; or you 
may e-mail: LakeWoodruffCCP@fws.gov. A copy of the Draft CCP/EA is 
available on compact diskette or hard copy. The Draft CCP/EA may also 
be accessed and downloaded from the Service's Internet site: http://
www.fws.gov/southeast/planning.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cheri Ehrhardt; Telephone: 321/861-
0667.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for the Lake Woodruff 
National Wildlife Refuge. We started this process through a notice in 
the Federal Register on July 26, 2006 (71 FR 42412).
    Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1964. 
This 21,500-acre refuge is comprised of approximately 11,100 acres of 
freshwater marsh; 7,200 acres of hardwood swamps; 2,400 acres of 
uplands; and more than 800 acres of lakes, streams, and canals. The 
refuge also has an additional 652 acres of conservation easement lands 
on two tracts. The primary purpose of the refuge is for the protection 
of migratory birds.

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 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. 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, 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.
    Public scoping began in July 2006. Issues identified by the public, 
intergovernmental partners, and the Service include: Impacts of human 
population growth and increased development adjacent to the refuge 
boundary; threats and impacts to listed species and migratory birds; 
lack of a comprehensive habitat management program; spread of exotic, 
invasive, and nuisance species; lack of baseline data and coordinated 
research; need for enhanced interagency coordination; need for 
cooperative management agreements with the State for navigable (State-
owned) waterways on the refuge; and lack of sufficient access onto 
refuge properties.

CCP Actions We Are Considering, Including Proposed Action

    We developed four alternatives for managing the refuge and chose 
Alternative D as the proposed action. A full description of each 
alternative is in the Draft CCP/EA. We summarize each alternative 
below:
    Under Alternative A, current management of the refuge would 
continue. The refuge would continue to survey, maintain habitats, and 
limit disturbance to threatened and endangered species. The refuge 
would survey, monitor, and maintain habitat to benefit migratory birds, 
including waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, marsh birds, and 
landbirds. It would coordinate with other agencies to control aquatic 
weeds in the navigable waters. There would be incidental feral hog 
control as part of the deer hunting program. Forest management 
activities would maintain upland pine and bottomland hardwood habitats. 
The refuge would manage 450 acres of impoundments and 11,000 acres of 
freshwater marshes. Upland sheet flow restoration efforts would 
continue. Under this alternative, resource protection would not change. 
Limited archaeological surveys would be conducted as part of timber 
sales. The refuge would continue to increase safety at the main access 
railroad crossing and maintain the access road. The visitor services' 
program would not be expanded. Deer and feral hog hunting opportunities 
would be maintained at current levels. Turkey surveys would be 
conducted to determine population status. Fishing opportunities would 
be maintained. As part of wildlife and photography, the refuge would 
maintain an observation tower, interpretive trails, hiking trails, and 
a photo-blind. Horseback riding would continue on the Volusia Tract, 
and commercial guided boat tours would be conducted via special use 
permits. The refuge would conduct 15 environmental and interpretive 
programs annually. Friends group membership and volunteer levels would 
remain the same. Refuge administration would remain the same with the 
following six employees: refuge manager, biologist, fire specialist, 
engineering equipment operator, and forestry technician (2 career-
seasonal employees).
    Under Alternative B, wildlife and habitat management would 
increase. The refuge would evaluate the expansion of impoundments to 
provide more habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds. The 
refuge would limit public access to certain areas to decrease 
disturbance. It would intensively survey and monitor migratory birds. 
Manipulation of water levels in the impoundments would favor native 
plant species, and the refuge would focus exotic plant control to 
support migratory birds. Feral hog and coyote management would be the 
same as under Alternative A. Habitats would be restored to support 
migratory birds through prescribed fire and forest

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thinning. The refuge would work with partners to ensure water quality, 
quantity, minimum flows and levels, and natural hydrology to support 
migratory birds. The refuge would work to develop cooperative 
management agreements with the State for the navigable waters on the 
refuge. It would conduct a refuge boundary survey. Under Alternative B, 
resource protection would increase. Archaeological resources would be 
managed the same as under Alternative A. The refuge would evaluate the 
need to improve the access road. Alternative B would expand visitor 
services. Hunting and fishing opportunities would be increased, but the 
refuge would ensure that these activities do not impact migratory 
birds. The refuge would seasonally close key areas to the public to 
limit disturbance to migratory birds and eliminate horseback riding. It 
would incorporate migratory bird themes into commercial guided tour 
messages. The refuge would develop on- and off-site education and 
interpretive programs with messages focused on migratory birds and the 
minimization of human impacts. It would train staff, volunteers, 
teachers, and tour operators to incorporate interpretive themes into 
programs. Refuge administration would expand under Alternative B. In 
addition to the 6 positions listed under Alternative A, the following 
positions would be added for a total of 15 positions: Wildlife 
specialist (assistant refuge manager), office assistant, biologist, 
biological science technician (2), maintenance worker (2), law 
enforcement officer, and park ranger.
    Under Alternative C, management would focus on the needs of rare, 
threatened, and endangered species. More areas on the refuge would be 
seasonally closed to limit disturbance to priority species. Management 
of migratory birds would be decreased as the impoundment acreage would 
decline to support certain listed species. Exotic species control would 
benefit listed species. Upland and bottomland forest management would 
focus on the needs of listed species. The refuge would work with 
partners to conduct herpetological and fish surveys and to protect 
water resources to support listed species. Archaeological resources 
would be managed as under Alternative A. The refuge would evaluate the 
need to improve the access road. It would work with partners to protect 
wildlife crossing the railroad tracks. Under Alternative C, visitor 
services would be reduced. The refuge would ensure that hunting and 
fishing do not impact listed species. The refuge would seasonally close 
key areas to the public to limit disturbance to listed species and 
would eliminate horseback riding. It would incorporate listed species 
conservation themes into commercial guided tour messages. The refuge 
would develop on- and off-site education and interpretive programs with 
messages focused on listed species and the minimization of human 
impacts. It would train staff, volunteers, teachers, and tour operators 
to incorporate interpretive themes into programs. Friends and volunteer 
levels and efforts would be increased and focused on the needs of 
listed species. Refuge administration would expand under Alternative C. 
In addition to the 6 positions listed under Alternative A, the 
following positions would be added for a total of 18 positions: 
Wildlife specialist (assistant refuge manager), office assistant, 
biologist (2), biological science technicians (2), non-fire forestry 
technician, maintenance worker (2), law enforcement officer (2), and 
park ranger.
    Under Alternative D, the proposed alternative, wildlife and habitat 
diversity would be emphasized. This alternative would expand wildlife 
and habitat management efforts on the refuge. Some key areas would be 
seasonally closed to the public to limit disturbance to rare, 
threatened, and endangered species, as well as to protect vulnerable 
habitats. For migratory birds, the refuge would intensively survey, 
monitor, and manage the impoundments for multi-species use. Exotic 
species control efforts would be similar to Alternatives B and C in the 
level of effort but the focus would be on maintaining biodiversity. The 
refuge would work with the State to determine the impacts of coyotes. 
If feral hog control measures become necessary, trapping would be 
considered. Upland habitats would be managed for biodiversity. 
Herpetological and fish surveys and monitoring efforts would increase. 
The refuge would work with the State to develop appropriate cooperative 
management agreements for the navigable waters on the refuge. A refuge 
boundary survey would be conducted. The refuge would conduct a complete 
archaeological survey, and develop a regular patrol and enforcement 
program. With regards to the railroad, the refuge would work with 
partners to protect wildlife movement across the railroad tracks. It 
would evaluate the need to improve the road and determine alternative 
access routes onto the refuge. Visitor services would expand under this 
alternative but the refuge would ensure that hunting and fishing do not 
impact wildlife and habitat diversity. It would evaluate the potential 
for turkey hunting. It would continue to allow horseback riding on the 
Volusia Tract through special use permits. Biodiversity themes would be 
incorporated into commercial guided tour messages. The refuge would 
develop on- and off-site education and interpretive programs, with 
messages focused on biodiversity and the minimization of human impacts. 
The refuge would train staff, volunteers, teachers, and tour operators 
to incorporate interpretive themes into programs. It would increase 
Friends group and volunteer efforts to support wildlife and habitat 
diversity. As part of refuge administration, the refuge would include 
maintenance programs in support of biodiversity and biological 
integrity. In addition to the 6 positions listed under Alternative A, 
the following positions would be added for a total of 11 positions: 
Wildlife specialist (assistant refuge manager), biological science 
technician, maintenance worker, law enforcement officer, and park 
ranger.

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.

Next Step

    After the comment period ends for the Draft CCP/EA, we will analyze 
the comments and address them in the form of a Final CCP and Finding of 
No Significant Impact.

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

    Dated: February 13, 2008.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. E8-8760 Filed 4-22-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P