[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 89 (Monday, May 9, 2011)]
[Pages 26751-26753]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-11266]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2010-N284; BAC-4311-K9-S3]

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Sussex County, DE; 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) for Prime Hook National 
Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Sussex County, Delaware. An environmental 
impact statement (EIS) evaluating effects of various CCP alternatives 
will also be prepared. 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. We are also 
requesting public comments. This notice also advises the public that we 
have reconsidered a 2005 notice, in which we announced our intention to 
develop an environmental assessment (EA) for the refuge. Comments 
already received in response to the previous notice will be considered 
during preparation of the subject CCP/EIS.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
June 23, 2011. We will announce opportunities

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for public input in local news media throughout the CCP process.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods.
    E-mail: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Include ``Prime Hook CCP'' in 
the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attention: Thomas Bonetti, Planning Team Leader, at 413-253-
    U.S. Mail: Thomas Bonetti, Planning Team Leader, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Northeast Regional Office, 300 Westgate Center Drive, 
Hadley, MA 01035.
    In-Person Drop-off: You may drop off comments during regular 
business hours at Prime Hook NWR, 11978 Turkle Pond Road, Milton, DE 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To obtain more information on the 
refuge, contact Michael Stroeh, Project Leader, Prime Hook NWR, 11978 
Turkle Pond Road, Milton, DE 19968; phone: 302-653-9345; fax: 302-684-



    With this notice, we continue our process for developing a CCP for 
Prime Hook NWR in Sussex County, DE. This notice complies with our CCP 
policy, and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended 
(NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), to (1) Advise other Federal and State 
agencies, Tribes, and the public of our intention to conduct detailed 
planning on this refuge, and (2) obtain suggestions and information on 
the scope of issues to consider in the environmental document and 
during development of the CCP.


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Administration Act), as amended by the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, 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 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.
    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 Prime Hook NWR. We 
previously published a notice of intent on October 17, 2005 (70 FR 
60365) stating we intended to prepare a CCP and EA for Prime Hook NWR. 
We held three public meetings in November 2005 in Milton, Dover, and 
Lewes, DE. All meetings were announced in local newspapers. One hundred 
and ten members of the public attended the meetings and provided 
comments. All comments we received on the EA will go forward into the 
EIS planning process. Based on the extent of public comments already 
received, and subsequent developments since scoping, we have determined 
that an EIS would be more appropriate than an EA to ensure that a full 
and fair discussion of all significant environmental impacts occurs, 
and to inform decision-makers and the public of the reasonable 
alternatives that would avoid or minimize adverse impacts and enhance 
the quality of the human environment.
    We will conduct the environmental review of this project and 
develop an EIS in accordance with the requirements of NEPA, 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.

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

    In 1963, Prime Hook NWR was established under the authority of the 
Migratory Bird Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 715-715r) for use as an 
inviolate sanctuary, or any other management purpose, expressly for 
migratory birds. Farms and residences were once present on portions of 
what is now the refuge. Prime Hook NWR was established primarily to 
preserve coastal wetlands as wintering and breeding habitat for 
migratory waterfowl. The 10,133 acres of the refuge stretch along the 
west shore of Delaware Bay, 22 miles southeast of Dover, Delaware. 
Eighty percent of the refuge's vegetation cover types are characterized 
by tidal and freshwater creek drainages that discharge into the 
Delaware Bay and associated coastal marshes. The remaining 20 percent 
is composed of upland habitats. The land uses near the refuge are 
intensive agricultural and developed residential.

Scoping: Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities

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

Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise

    A growing body of evidence indicates that accelerating climate 
change, associated with increasing global temperatures, is affecting 
water, land, and wildlife resources. Along our coasts, rising sea 
levels have begun to affect fish and wildlife habitats, including those 
used by waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds on our national 
wildlife refuges. Successful conservation strategies will require an 
understanding of climate change and the ability to predict how those 
changes will affect fish and wildlife at multiple scales. Overwash is 
the flow of water and sediment over the crest of the beach that does 
not directly return to the water body where it originated. It is a 
natural manifestation of rising sea levels, but also critical to 
maintaining healthy emergent wetlands in barrier island systems of 
estuaries like the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays.

Mosquito Control

    Balancing the needs of wildlife and people is becoming more 
difficult as residential developments encroach upon wild areas and more 
visitors participate in wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities 
on the refuge. Providing quality habitat at sufficient quantities for 
an increasing number of species and individuals is challenging to 
wildlife managers and biologists. Mosquitoes are a part of the natural 
environment and a food source for a variety of wildlife. More 
importantly, insecticides, in particular adulticides

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that are used to control mosquitoes, can have devastating impacts on 
insects, which are utilized by fish, amphibians, and migratory birds as 
important food sources. Prime Hook NWR has and will continue to work 
with the State's Mosquito Control Section while striving to protect the 
biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health of the 

Cooperative Farming

    Prime Hook NWR has an on-refuge cooperative farming program, which 
has a long history. However, the refuge has never tilled more than 870 
acres in any year, and this farmed acreage has been reduced 
incrementally over the years. In 2006, the Delaware Audubon Society, 
Center for Food Safety, and Public Employees for Environmental 
Responsibility filed suit against the Service alleging the refuge's 
failure to comply with Federal laws and policies. The refuge ceased all 
farming operations in 2006. In 2009, the refuge was enjoined from 
farming and the planting of genetically modified organisms until the 
refuge completed compatibility determinations and environmental 
assessments dealing with the impacts.


    On the Delmarva Peninsula, hunting is a traditional outdoor pastime 
that is deeply rooted in American and Delaware heritage. Opportunities 
for public hunting are decreasing with increasing private land 
development. Refuge lands thus become increasingly important in the 
region as a place to engage in this activity. Hunting has and will 
continue to be an integral component of the public use program at the 
refuge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Manual (605 FW 2) states 
that hunting programs must provide quality experiences for the public, 
be compatible with the mission of the NWRS and the purposes of the 
refuge, and, to the extent practicable, be consistent with State fish 
and wildlife laws and regulations. In scoping for the CCP, we invite 
suggestions on how to improve the current hunting program.

Public Involvement

    You may send comments anytime during the planning process by mail, 
e-mail, or fax (see ADDRESSES). There will be additional opportunities 
to provide public input once we have prepared a draft CCP. Comments 
already received under the previous notice will be considered during 
preparation of the subject CCP/EIS. The public's ideas and comments are 
an important part of the CCP process, and we invite public 
participation. The Service is looking for meaningful comments that will 
help determine the desired future conditions of the refuge and address 
the full range of refuge issues and opportunities.

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 28, 2011.
Kyla J. Hastie,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-11266 Filed 5-6-11; 8:45 am]