[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 27 (Wednesday, February 10, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 6694-6696]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-1292]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-R-2009-N0112; 1265-0000-10137-S3]


Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge and Julia Butler Hansen 
Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: draft comprehensive conservation plan 
and draft environmental impact statement; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of our draft comprehensive conservation plan and draft 
environmental impact statement (CCP/DEIS) for the Lewis and Clark 
National Wildlife Refuge and Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the 
Columbian White-tailed Deer (refuge or, collectively, refuges) for 
public review and comment. The CCP/DEIS describes our proposal for 
managing the refuges for the next 15 years. Both refuges are managed as 
part of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex located in Ilwaco, 
WA.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
March 29, 2010.

ADDRESSES: More information on the refuges is available on the Internet 
at http://www.fws.gov/willapa. You may submit comments, request a copy 
of the CCP or EIS, or request more information by either of the 
following methods:
    E-mail: FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Include ``Lewis and Clark 
CCP'' and/or ``Julia Butler Hansen CCP'' in the subject line of the 
message.
    U.S. Mail: Charlie Stenvall, Project Leader, Willapa National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex, 3888 SR 101, Ilwaco, Washington 98624.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Charlie Stenvall, Project Leader, (360) 
484-3482.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

The CCP Process

    The CCP/DEIS was prepared pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) as amended 
(Refuge Administration Act); the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) (NEPA); and the Service's Wilderness 
Stewardship Policy (610 FW 3). The Refuge Administration Act requires 
us to

[[Page 6695]]

develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose of 
developing a CCP is to provide refuge managers 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 conservation, management, legal mandates, and our 
policies. In addition to outlining broad management direction for 
conserving wildlife and their habitats, CCPs identify wildlife-
dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, including 
hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. As part of a single 
planning process, the CCP/DEIS covers both refuges. At the conclusion 
of the planning process, the final documentation will be separated into 
two individual CCPs, one for each refuge. We will review and update the 
CCPs at least every 15 years in accordance with the Refuge 
Administration Act.

Public Outreach

    We started the public scoping phase of the CCP planning process by 
publishing a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register on September 21, 
2006 (71 FR 55214), announcing our intention to complete a CCP/EIS for 
the refuges and inviting public comments. A list of public involvement 
efforts we have completed to date follows.
     In September 2006, we distributed Planning Update 1 to our 
project mailing list and public outlets located near one or both 
refuges. In it, we announced the initiation of the planning process, 
invited the public to a series of open house meetings, provided 
background information on the refuges, and requested public comments on 
refuge management activities.
     Between October 17 and 24, 2006, we held four public open 
house meetings in communities near the refuges to meet the public and 
obtain comments on refuge management issues. The meetings were 
announced though local media via press releases, Web sites, and in 
Planning Update 1.
     In February 2007, we distributed Planning Update 2, which 
included a summary of the public meetings and the public comments we 
obtained at the meetings and through other means, a planning schedule, 
and draft vision statements for the refuges.

Overview of the Refuges

    The Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer 
was established in 1971, specifically to protect and manage habitat for 
the endangered Columbian white-tailed deer. The refuge contains over 
6,000 acres of pastures, forested tidal swamps, brushy woodlots, 
marshes, and sloughs along the Columbia River, in southwestern 
Washington and northwestern Oregon. The refuge's Mainland Unit, Hunting 
Islands, and Price Island are located in Washington. The refuge's 
Tenasillahe Island, Crims Island, Wallace Island, and Westport Unit are 
located in Oregon. The refuge habitat protected for the Columbian 
white-tailed deer also benefits a large variety of wintering birds; a 
small herd of Roosevelt elk; river otters; painted turtles, red-legged 
frogs, and other reptiles and amphibians; and several pairs of nesting 
bald eagles and ospreys. Staff members for both refuges are located on 
the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer in 
Wahkiakum County, near the town of Cathlamet, Washington.
    The Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge was established in 
1972 to preserve the vital fish and wildlife habitat of the Columbia 
River estuary. Riverine islands contain habitats ranging from tidal 
sand flats and marshes to forested swamps and upland pastures. This 
combination supports large numbers of migratory birds, including 
waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds, and a variety of raptors and 
songbirds. The refuge's islands are accessible only by boat and include 
approximately 18 named islands and a number of unnamed islands and 
marshes stretching over 25 miles of the Columbia River.

Draft Alternatives We Are Considering

    We drafted two alternatives for managing the Lewis and Clark 
Refuge, and three alternatives for managing the Julia Butler Hansen 
Refuge. Draft compatibility determinations for public uses are also 
available as an appendix to the CCP/DEIS. Brief descriptions of the 
alternatives follow.

Lewis and Clark Refuge Alternative 1

    This alternative assumes no change from the current refuge 
management programs. Habitat management would consist of monitoring 
refuge islands and treating invasive plant infestations as funding 
allows. Refuge staff members would continue to protect and maintain 
wintering and foraging habitat for migratory waterfowl, and nesting and 
roosting habitat for bald eagles. Existing public uses, including 
hunting, fishing, and wildlife observation and photography, would 
continue at current levels.

Lewis and Clark Refuge Alternative 2

    Under Alternative 2 (the preferred alternative), current wildlife 
and habitat management would be maintained. Key refuge enhancements 
would include establishing or expanding partnerships for managing 
invasive species, recruiting graduate students to conduct needed 
wildlife and habitat research, and meeting with the Oregon Department 
of State Lands to discuss options for managing State lands within the 
approved refuge acquisition boundary. The refuge would work to expand 
opportunities for public uses, particularly wildlife observation and 
photography. Refuge lands that meet the basic criteria for wilderness 
would be the subject of additional studies for a potential wilderness 
recommendation. Refuge staff would also work with partners to ensure 
dredge-spoil islands provide benefits for wildlife.

Julia Butler Hansen Refuge Alternative 1

    Under Alternative 1, no changes to the current refuge management 
programs would occur. We would continue to maintain and protect 
habitats, establish early successional riparian forest habitat, 
maintain predator management January through April, and continue 
wildlife-dependent public use programs.

Julia Butler Hansen Refuge Alternative 2

    Under Alternative 2 (the preferred alternative), the refuge would 
make certain changes, including closing a small section of Steamboat 
Slough to waterfowl hunting to improve public safety. Refuge lands that 
meet the basic criteria for wilderness would be the subject of 
additional studies for a potential wilderness recommendation. To 
achieve the recovery goals for the Columbia white-tailed deer, predator 
management would take place on an as-needed basis year-round under this 
alternative. We would expand the Columbia white-tailed deer population 
by establishing an experimental population upriver. The wildlife-
dependent public use programs would include developing two trails, 
opening Crims and Price Islands to waterfowl hunting, and improving 
print and interpretive media.

Julia Butler Hansen Refuge Alternative 3

    To achieve recovery goals for the Columbian white-tailed deer, we 
would conduct predator management January through August. In addition, 
refuge lands that meet the basic criteria for wilderness would be the 
subject of additional studies for a potential wilderness 
recommendation. The wildlife-dependent public use programs

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would include developing a bicycle and hiking trail, opening Crims and 
Price Islands to waterfowl hunting, closing a small section of 
Steamboat Slough to waterfowl hunting to improve public safety, 
installing new interpretive exhibit panels, and developing curriculum 
for the refuge study sites.

Public Availability of Documents

    We encourage you to stay involved in the CCP planning process by 
reviewing and commenting on the proposals we have developed in the CCP/
DEIS. Copies of the CCP/DEIS on CD-ROM are available by request from 
Charlie Stenvall, Project Leader, Willapa National Wildlife Refuge 
Complex, 3888 SR 101, Ilwaco, WA 98624; phone (360) 484-3482. The Draft 
CCP/EIS will also be available for viewing and downloading on the 
Internet at http://www.fws.gov/lc and http://www.fws.gov/jbh. Printed 
copies of the CCP/DEIS may be reviewed at the Julia Butler Hansen 
Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer, 46 Steamboat Slough Road, 
Cathlamet, WA 98612; Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex (address 
above); and at the following libraries.
     Blanch Bradley Library, 100 Main Street, Cathlamet, WA 
98612.
     Astoria Public Library, 450 10th Street, Astoria, OR 
97103.
     Clatskanie Library District, 11 Lillich Street, 
Clatskanie, OR 97016.
     Ilwaco Timberline Regional Library, 158 1st Avenue, 
Ilwaco, WA 98624.
     Longview Public Library, 1600 Louisiana Street, Longview, 
WA 98632.

Next Steps

    After this comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them in the form of a final CCP/EIS.

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.

    Dated: January 15, 2010.
David J. Wesley,
Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2010-1292 Filed 2-9-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE P