[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 174 (Thursday, September 8, 2011)]
[Page 55699]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-23051]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2011-N078; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Proposed Establishment of Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife 
Refuge and Conservation Area

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: draft land protection plan and 
environmental assessment; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
establish a national wildlife refuge and conservation area in Polk, 
Osceola, Highlands, and Okeechobee Counties, in central and south 
Florida. A draft Land Protection Plan (LPP) and Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for the establishment of the proposed refuge and 
conservation area were prepared with input from Federal, State, and 
local agencies; Native American tribal nations; various non-
governmental organizations; and the public. The EA considers the 
biological, environmental, and socioeconomic impacts of establishment 
of the refuge and conservation area and evaluates alternatives. The LPP 
describes the alternative we propose for the establishment of the 
refuge and conservation area.

DATES: To ensure consideration of your comments, we must receive your 
written comments by October 24, 2011. We will schedule public meetings 
during this public review and comment period. We will also inform the 
public of the public review and comment period and the dates, 
locations, and times of public meetings through mailings, press 
releases, and the Service's Everglades Headwaters webpage: http://www.fws.gov/southeast/evergladesheadwaters.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the draft LPP and EA via U.S. mail 
at Everglades Headwaters Proposal, Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 
2683, Titusville, FL 32781-2683, via e-mail at 
[email protected], or by calling the Merritt Island 
National Wildlife Refuge Complex at 321/861-0067 (telephone). 
Alternatively, you may download the document from our Internet Site at 
http://www.fws.gov/southeast/evergladesheadwaters. You may submit 
comments on the draft LPP and EA to the above postal address, e-mail 
address, or to 321/861-1276 (fax).

Resource Planner, at 321/861-2368 (telephone) or Mr. Charlie Pelizza, 
Refuge Manager, at 772/562-3909, extension 244 (telephone).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We propose to establish a national wildlife 
refuge and conservation area in Polk, Osceola, Highlands, and 
Okeechobee Counties in central and south Florida. The proposed refuge 
and conservation area would carry out many valuable functions, 
including the following: (1) Conduct landscape-scale strategic habitat 
conservation necessary to conserve important resources through 
partnerships and responsible stewardship; (2) protect and enhance 
habitats for Federal trust species and species of management concern, 
with special emphasis on species listed under the Endangered Species 
Act; (3) protect State-listed species; (4) protect and enhance 
biological diversity; (5) protect and enhance prairie, scrub, sandhill, 
flatwoods, and various wetland habitats within this landscape; (6) 
protect the headwaters, groundwater recharge, and watershed of the 
Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Kissimmee River, and Lake Okeechobee region, 
which would help improve water quantity and quality in the Everglades 
watershed; (7) protect and enhance habitat corridors and implement 
other wildlife adaptation strategies to help buffer the impacts of 
climate change; and (8) provide opportunities for hunting, fishing, 
wildlife observation, wildlife photography, and environmental education 
and interpretation, while promoting activities that complement the 
purposes of the refuge and other protected lands in the region.
    Recognizing the generations of responsible stewardship within this 
working rural landscape, this proposal seeks to work with willing 
landowners to secure a legacy of conservation lands for future 
generations to enjoy. This proposal aims to protect and restore one of 
the great grassland and savanna landscapes of eastern North America, 
conserving one of the nation's prime areas of biological diversity. 
Further, the proposal aims to address the threats from habitat 
fragmentation, urban development, and altered ecological processes, and 
the impacts from global climate change. Key species and habitats of 
concern for this area include: Florida grasshopper sparrow, Everglades 
snail kite, Florida black bear, Audubon's crested caracara, red-
cockaded woodpecker, and the cutthroat wetlands habitats. By working 
with willing landowners, the Service is proposing to establish a 
national wildlife refuge and conservation area on 150,000 acres by 
focusing fee title acquisition activities on 50,000 acres of refuge 
area, while supporting landscape-scale conservation activities and 
focusing conservation easements on another 100,000 acres.

Next Step

    After the comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them.

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.


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

     Dated: April 27, 2011.
Mark J. Musaus,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2011-23051 Filed 9-7-11; 8:45 am]