[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 161 (Monday, August 20, 2012)]
[Pages 50155-50156]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-20359]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-R-2012-N119; FXRS1265030000S3-123-FF03R06000]

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Jasper County, IA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
environmental assessment (EA) for Neal Smith 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.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by September 19, 2012. 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.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
one of the following methods:
     Email: r3planning@fws.gov. Include ``Neal Smith Draft CCP/
EA'' in the subject line of the message.
     Fax: Attention: Refuge Manager, 515-994-3459.
     U.S. Mail: Attention: Refuge Manager Christy Smith, Neal 
Smith National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 399, 9981 Pacific Street, 
Prairie City, IA 50228.
     In-Person Drop Off: You may drop off comments during 
regular business hours at the above address.
    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: 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christy Smith, 515-994-3400.



    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Neal Smith 
National Wildlife Refuge, which we began by publishing a notice of 
intent in the Federal Register (73 FR 7667) on December 17, 2008. For 
more about the initial process and the history of this refuge, see that 


    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.

Additional Information

    The draft CCP/EA, which includes detailed information about the 
planning process, refuge, issues, and management alternatives 
considered and proposed, may be found at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/nealsmith/index.html. There are four alternative refuge 
management options considered in the EA. The Service's preferred 
alternative is reflected in the draft CCP.

[[Page 50156]]

    The alternatives analyzed in detail include:
     Alternative A: Current Management (No Action): This no-
action alternative, reflects the current management of Neal Smith NWR. 
It provides the baseline against which to compare other alternatives.
     Alternative B: Refuge Habitat Focus (Preferred 
Alternative): This alternative focuses upon increasing the amount and 
diversity of native vegetation on the Refuge, and providing the varied 
habitat structure needed to support wildlife, especially declining 
populations of migratory grassland birds. Additional effort is directed 
toward restoring floristic quality on prairie and savanna remnants and 
monitoring and learning from the results of management actions. The 
Refuge boundary is expanded to the east and west by 3,210 acres, to 
include all tributaries of Walnut Creek that flow through the Refuge.
     Alternative C: Watershed Focus: This alternative 
emphasizes restoration of hydrologic function and native vegetation to 
the entire Walnut Creek watershed. Refuge staff builds and leads a new 
public/private partnership to develop and begin implementation of a 
long-term restoration plan for the watershed. The Refuge land 
acquisition boundary is expanded by 14,600 acres to include all lands 
within the watershed. Restoration of the southernmost reaches of the 
watershed creates a contiguous habitat connection between Neal Smith 
NWR and Lake Red Rock.
     Alternative D: Corridor Focus: This alternative emphasizes 
creation of a permanent wildlife habitat corridor connecting Neal Smith 
NWR with Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt to the north and Lake Red Rock to 
the south. Refuge staff builds and leads a new public/private 
partnership focused on increasing the wildlife value of lands within 
the corridor and supporting environmentally sound development. The 
Refuge land acquisition boundary is expanded by 20,550 acres to include 
the entire corridor area. Prairie restoration and management focus on 
creation of large connected tracts of diverse habitat structure for 
wildlife, especially declining populations of grassland birds.

Public Involvement

    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.

Thomas O. Melius,
Regional Director, Midwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-20359 Filed 8-17-12; 8:45 am]