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Federal Register / Vol. 70, No.

23 / Friday, February 4, 2005 / Notices 6031

Status of the proposed information critical habitat for threatened and prescribed burning designed to reduce
collection: Currently approved. endangered species. fuel loads. Land would be acquired from
Authority: The Paperwork Reduction Act • Identifying and conserving willing sellers within the current
of 1995, 44 U.S.C., Chapter 35, as amended. archaeological and natural resources on acquisition boundary totaling
the refuge and promoting conservation approximately 12,570 acres.
Dated: January 26, 2005.
through interagency and private Fishing and wildlife observation
John C. Weicher, landowner cooperation, partnerships, would continue to be the major focuses
Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal and land protection programs on the of the refuge public use program, with
Housing Commissioner. Fort Morgan Peninsula and coastal no expansion of current opportunities.
[FR Doc. 05–2214 Filed 2–3–05; 8:45 am] Alabama. Current restrictions or prohibitions
BILLING CODE 4210–27–M • Providing the public with quality would remain. No new trails would be
interpretation, outreach opportunities, developed, but the refuge staff would
environmental education programs, and continue to maintain the existing trails.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR recreational activities that lead to a Environmental education and
greater understanding, enjoyment, and interpretation and wildlife photography
Fish and Wildlife Service appreciation of fish, wildlife, habitats, would be accommodated on a case-by-
and cultural resources of coastal case basis. Funding to construct a
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Alabama. maintenance facility and to rehabilitate
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Compatibility determinations for existing facilities would be requested.
Interior. recreational fishing, wildlife Alternative B—Expands wildlife and
ACTION: Notice of Availability of the observation, photography, hiking, habitat management activities, while
Draft Comprehensive Conservation environmental education and maintaining current public use and
Plan/Environmental Assessment for Bon interpretation, swimming and beach education. Under this alternative, the
Secour National Wildlife Refuge in use, scientific research, dogs on the emphasis would be to improve refuge
Baldwin County, Alabama. beach, and bicycling are included in the resources for wildlife, while still
draft plan. maintaining those public use
SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service opportunities which presently exist.
announces that a Draft Comprehensive Proposed Action Most refuge management actions would
Conservation Plan/Environmental The proposed action is to adopt and be directed toward preserving,
Assessment for Bon Secour National implement a comprehensive enhancing, restoring, and managing the
Wildlife Refuge is available for review conservation plan for the refuge that beach/dune habitat for the benefit of the
and comment. The National Wildlife best achieves the refuge’s purpose, Alabama beach mouse and nesting sea
Refuge System Administration Act of vision, and goals; contributes to the turtles. Prescribed burning would be
1966, as amended by the National National Wildlife Refuge System used to improve habitat for neotropical
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement mission; addresses the significant issues migratory birds. Other national,
Act of 1997, requires the Service to and relevant mandates; and is consistent regional, and state goals to protect and
develop a comprehensive conservation with principles of sound fish and restore forest, grassland, and scrub/
plan for each national wildlife refuge. wildlife management. The Service shrub bird populations would be
The purpose in developing a analyzed four alternatives for managing supported secondarily in habitats that
comprehensive conservation plan is to the refuge and chose Alternative D as are inland from the beach/dune habitat.
provide refuge managers with a 15-year the one to best achieve all of these Baseline data would be collected,
strategy for achieving refuge purposes elements. standardized surveys implemented, and
and contributing toward the mission of populations monitored.
Alternatives Additional staff would include a
the National Wildlife Refuge System,
consistent with sound principles of fish Alternative A—Represents the status biological technician and a law
and wildlife management, conservation, quo; e.g., no changes from current enforcement officer to accomplish
legal mandates, and Service policies. In management of the refuge. Existing objectives for establishing baseline data
addition to outlining broad management refuge management and public outreach on refuge resources, managing habitats,
direction on conserving wildlife and practices would be favored under this and protecting biological resources.
their habitats, the plan identifies alternative. All refuge management Under this alternative the refuge
wildlife-dependent recreational actions would be directed towards would continue to seek lands from
opportunities available to the public, achieving the refuge’s primary purposes willing sellers within the acquisition
including opportunities for hunting, including: (1) Preserving habitat to boundary. Non-traditional land
fishing, wildlife observation and ensure the well-being of nationally protection methods would be developed
photography, and environmental threatened and endangered species; (2) and employed.
education and interpretation. conserving an undisturbed beach/dune Public uses would include wildlife
Proposed goals for the refuge include: ecosystem which includes a diversity of observation and photography, limited
• Identifying, conserving, managing, fish, wildlife, and their habitats; (3) interpretation, and fishing. Under this
enhancing, and restoring populations of serving as a living laboratory for alternative, outreach and environmental
native fish and wildlife species scientists and students; and (4) education would occur on a sporadic,
representative of coastal Alabama, with providing wildlife-oriented recreation time-permitting basis. No evaluation of
special emphasis on migratory birds and for the public. existing uses would occur. Fishing and
threatened and endangered species. Refuge management programs would wildlife observation would continue to
• Identifying, conserving, managing, continue to be developed and be the major focus for the public use
enhancing, and restoring the natural implemented with little baseline program, with no expansion of
diversity, abundance, and ecological biological information. Active habitat enhancement of current opportunities.
functions of refuge habitats and management would include beach/dune No new trails would be developed, but
associated plant communities, with an habitat improvement and restoration, the refuge staff would continue to
emphasis on managing designated protection of nesting sea turtles, and maintain the existing trails. All new

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6032 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 23 / Friday, February 4, 2005 / Notices

funding would support the wildlife and plan were developed as a direct result landowners, and leases/cooperative
habitat management programs, with of the selection of Alternative D. agreements with state agencies.
annual maintenance funding to support This alternative would promote a
greater understanding and protection of Actions Common to All Alternatives
upkeep of existing public use facilities.
Partnership opportunities would not be fish, wildlife, and their habitats, and All three alternatives share the
feasible, as full attention would be on higher quality, balanced recreational following management concepts and
managing refuge lands and collecting opportunities for visitors. Fishing would techniques for achieving the goals of the
biological information. This alternative continue with greater emphasis on the refuge:
in no way addresses the increase in quality of the experience. Education and • Restoring native habitats;
visitation that has occurred in the past interpretation would be promoted • Establishing, maintaining, and
5 years and that is predicted to through regular programs and improving partnerships with
continue. partnerships with local schools. landowners and local, state, and federal
Alternative C—Maintains current Wildlife observation and photography agencies and organizations;
wildlife and habitat management opportunities would be expanded, • Coordinating management actions
activities, while expanding public use including a kayak trail and observation with local and state land and resource
and education. This approach would towers, highlighting refuge management management agencies;
maintain the current wildlife and programs and unique wildlife habitats. • Monitoring Alabama beach mouse
habitat management activities while A user fee and permit would be populations and sea turtle nesting in
allowing for significantly more public implemented to facilitate night fishing partnership with others;
recreational uses. Additional staff at Mobile Point. A visitor center and • Removing non-native invasive
needed to implement this alternative headquarters office would be plants;
includes an outdoor recreation planner, constructed on the refuge with space for • Encouraging scientific research on
a law enforcement officer, and a interpretation, environmental the refuge; and
seasonal maintenance worker. Trails, education, and staff. • Continuing land acquisition within
parking lots, and interpretive signage Research studies on the refuge would the refuge boundary.
would be constructed in every refuge be fostered and partnerships developed DATES: A meeting will be held at the
unit, along with added environmental with other agencies and universities to Gulf Shores Adult Activities Center to
education and watchable wildlife provide needed resources and present the plan to the public. Mailings,
programs. Additional staff would be experiment sites, while meeting the newspaper articles, and postings on the
used for developing and presenting both needs of the refuge’s wildlife and refuge Web site will be the avenues to
on- and off-site outreach and habitat management programs. Research inform the public of the date and time
interpretation programs. A user fee and would also benefit conservation efforts for this meeting. Individuals wishing to
permit system would be implemented throughout the Central Gulf Coast to comment on the Draft Comprehensive
for fishing and beach use. A visitor preserve, enhance, restore, and manage Conservation Plan/Environmental
center and headquarters office would be coastal barrier island habitat. New Assessment for Bon Secour National
constructed on the refuge and would surveys on birds, reptiles, and Wildlife Refuge should do so within 30
include an environmental education amphibians would be initiated to days following the date of this notice.
classroom and meeting facilities. develop baseline information. Public comments were requested,
Land acquisition within the current Additional staff would include both considered, and incorporated
acquisition boundary would continue biological and outreach personnel. A throughout the planning process in
with emphasis on those lands that can biological technician, outdoor recreation
numerous ways. Public outreach has
provide additional public use planner, seasonal maintenance worker,
included public scoping meetings,
opportunities and beach access. and full-time law enforcement officer
technical workgroups, planning
Sporadic beach mouse live-trapping would be added to accomplish
updates, and a Federal Register notice.
and monitoring of sea turtle nests on objectives for establishing baseline data
refuge beaches would continue. No new on refuge resources, managing habitats, ADDRESSES: Requests for copies of the
surveys on migratory songbirds, providing opportunities and facilities Draft Comprehensive Conservation
breeding songbirds, shorebirds and for wildlife observation and Plan/Environmental Assessment should
marshbirds, and wintering shorebirds photography, providing educational be addressed to Robert Cail, Refuge
would occur. Baseline data on programs that promote a greater Manager, Bon Secour National Wildlife
herpetofauna would not be collected. understanding of refuge resources, and Refuge, 12295 State Highway 180, Gulf
Only dune restoration habitat projects protecting natural and cultural Shores, Alabama 36542. Comments on
would occur. Grassland and scrub/shrub resources and refuge visitors. the draft may be submitted to the above
habitat would not be restored and Under this alternative, the refuge address or via electronic mail to
managed and prescribed fire would would continue to seek acquisition of Please include your
continue to focus on fuel reduction all lands within the present acquisition name and return address in your
versus enhancing bird habitats. All new boundary. Lands acquired as part of the Internet message. Our practice is to
partnerships would be related to visitor refuge would be made available for make comments, including names and
services, public outreach, and compatible wildlife-dependent public home addresses of respondents,
environmental education. recreation and environmental education available for public review during
Alternative D—Expands wildlife and opportunities, where appropriate. regular business hours. Individual
habitat management activities, while Pristine lands that provide high quality respondents may request that we
optimizing public use and involvement. habitat and connectivity to existing withhold their home addresses from the
The Service planning team has refuge lands would be priority record, which we will honor to the
identified Alternative D as the preferred acquisitions. Equally important extent allowable by law.
alternative. This alternative was acquisition tools to be used include: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Bon
developed based on public input and transfer lands, partnerships with Secour National Wildlife Refuge is
the best judgment of the planning team. conservation organizations, located on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, 8
The strategies presented in the draft conservation easements with adjacent miles west of the city of Gulf Shores,

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Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 23 / Friday, February 4, 2005 / Notices 6033

Alabama, in Baldwin and Mobile DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR and Wildlife Biologist, Carlsbad Fish
Counties. The refuge is divided into five and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley
separate management units along the Fish and Wildlife Service Road, Carlsbad, California 92009
Fort Morgan Peninsula and Little (facsimile 760–431–5902).
Dauphin Island. Although the refuge Preparation of an Environmental
was established in 1980, to date, only Impact Statement for the Joint Water
Fernandez at (760) 431–9440.
6,978 acres have been acquired within Agency Natural Communities
the acquisition boundary totaling
Subregional Plan and Subarea Plans, Reasonable Accommodation
approximately 12,570 acres, including
San Diego, CA
the 575 acres leased from the State of Persons needing reasonable
Alabama. The Service has management AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, accommodations in order to attend and
jurisdiction along the shoreline above Interior. participate in the public meeting should
mean high tide except on Little Dauphin ACTION: Notice of intent. contact Erin Fernandez as soon as
Island, which contains 560 acres of possible (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
submerged bottoms. The potential SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National CONTACT). In order to allow sufficient
wildlife habitat values of beach/dune, Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the time to process requests, please call no
maritime forest, and estuarine habitats U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) later than 1 week before the public
provided the impetus to purchase the advises the public that we intend to meeting. Information regarding this
properties. gather information necessary to prepare, proposed action is available in
in coordination with the Joint Water alternative formats upon request.
Management efforts since 1985 have Agency (consisting of Helix Water
emphasized acquiring land, securing District, Padre Dam Municipal Water Background
staff to operate the refuge, and initiating District, Santa Fe Irrigation District, and Section 9 of the Federal ESA (16
conservation programs that benefit the Sweetwater Authority) (hereafter U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal
endangered wildlife species. However, collectively referred to as the regulations prohibit the ‘‘take’’ of a fish
Service acquisition of key properties, Applicants), a joint Environmental or wildlife species listed as endangered
such as inholdings and beach/dune Impact Statement/Environmental or threatened. Under the ESA, the
habitat, may not be realized within the Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for a Natural following activities are defined as take:
15-year planning period due to budget Communities Conservation Program harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot,
constraints and landowner preferences. Subregional Plan (SRP) and three wound, kill, trap, capture or collect
The five units within the acquisition Subarea Plans (SAPs). The combination listed animal species, or attempt to
boundary have a significant ‘‘edge,’’ of the Joint Water Agency SRP and engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C.
which contributes to the predation of individual SAPs would serve as a 1538). However, under section 10(a) of
birds, sea turtles, and beach mice. Edge multiple species Habitat Conservation the ESA, we may issue permits to
effect is the tendency of a transitional Plan under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the authorize ‘‘incidental take’’ of listed
zone between communities to support Federal Endangered Species Act, as species. ‘‘Incidental take’’ is defined by
more species and higher population amended in 1982 (ESA). the ESA as take that is incidental to, and
densities than any of the surrounding The Service provides this notice to: not the purpose of, carrying out an
communities. (1) Describe the proposed action and otherwise lawful activity. Regulations
Current conservation management possible alternatives; (2) advise other governing permits for threatened species
projects for the refuge include: Federal and State agencies, affected and endangered species, respectively,
recruiting and training staff and Tribes, and the public of our intent to are at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22.
improving existing facilities; managing prepare an EIS/EIR; (3) announce the Take of listed plant species is not
habitats to reduce the threats and initiation of a public scoping period; prohibited under the ESA and cannot be
problems associated with species of and (4) obtain suggestions and authorized under a section 10 permit.
concern; acquiring land to complete information on the scope of issues and We propose to include plant species on
refuge boundaries; assisting in sea turtle alternatives to be included in the EIS/ the permit in recognition of the
and Alabama beach mouse recovery; EIR. conservation benefits provided for them
and defining research within the beach/ DATES: Public scoping meetings will be under the plan.
dune area and involving partners and held on: Tuesday, February 8, 2005 from The purpose of the EIS/EIR is to
volunteers to accomplish this research. 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday, analyze the impacts of the proposed
February 9, 2005 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. implementation of the SRP and three
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Written comments should be received SAPs. The Federal need for the SRP and
Robert Cail, Refuge Manager, Bon on or before March 7, 2005. three SAPs is to meet the criteria for
Secour National Wildlife Refuge, ADDRESSES: The public meetings will be incidental take authorization of species
telephone: 251/540–7720; fax: 251/540– held at the following locations: (1) on the covered species list.
7301, or mail (write to Refuge Manager Tuesday, February 8, 2005, at the The proposed SRP would
at address in ADDRESSES section). Sweetwater Authority Reynolds comprehensively address how
Authority: This notice is published under Desalination Facility, 3066 North participating water agencies will
the authority of the National Wildlife Refuge Second Avenue, Chula Vista, CA 91912; manage their lands to conserve natural
System Improvement Act of 1997, Pub. L. and (2) Wednesday, February 9, 2005, at habitats and species while continuing to
105–57. the Padre Dam Municipal Water District provide their mandated water services
Dated: January 6, 2005. Board Room, 10887 Woodside Avenue, to the public. The proposed SRP would
Santee, CA 92072. serve as an ‘‘umbrella document’’ to
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Information, written comments, or guide the preparation of Natural
Acting Regional Director. questions related to the preparation of Communities Conservation Program
[FR Doc. 05–2182 Filed 2–3–02; 8:45 am] the EIS/EIR and NEPA process should subarea plans by each participating
BILLING CODE 4310–55–M be submitted to Erin Fernandez, Fish water agency. The combination of the

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