Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge, Plymouth, MA; Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment, 14228-14229 [2017-05369]

Download as PDF 14228 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 51 / Friday, March 17, 2017 / Notices MA 01776; 978–579–4026 (phone); 978– 443–2898 (fax); northeastplanning@ fws.gov (email) (please put ‘‘Massasoit NWR’’ in the subject line). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R5–R–2016–N217; BAC–4333–99] Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge, Plymouth, MA; Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and environmental assessment (EA) for Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) for public review and comment. Massasoit NWR is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and is administered by staff at Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex based in Sudbury, Massachusetts. The draft CCP and EA describes two alternatives for managing Massasoit NWR for the next 15 years. Alternative B is identified as the Service-preferred alternative. Also available for public review and comment are the draft compatibility determinations, which are included as appendix B in the draft CCP and EA. DATES: To ensure consideration of your written comments, please send them by May 16, 2017. We will also hold a public meeting. We will announce the meeting and other opportunities for public input in local news media, via our project mailing list, and on the refuge planning Web site: http:// www.fws.gov/refuge/Massasoit/what_ we_do/conservation.html. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, request copies of the document, or obtain more information on the plan by any of the following methods. Email: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Please include ‘‘Massasoit CCP’’ in the subject line of the message. U.S. Mail: Elizabeth Herland, Project Leader, Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex, 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, MA 01776. Fax: Attention: Elizabeth Herland, 978–443–2898. In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call Elizabeth Herland, Project Leader, Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex, at 978–579–4026, during regular business hours to make an appointment to view the document. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Elizabeth Herland, Project Leader, Eastern Massachusetts NWR; mailing address: 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:02 Mar 16, 2017 Jkt 241001 Introduction With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Massasoit NWR. We published our original notice of intent to prepare a CCP in the Federal Register on January 10, 2012 (77 FR 1503). The 209-acre Massasoit NWR is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and is comprised of three parcels: Crooked Pond (184 acres), Island Pond (15 acres), and Hoyts Pond (10 acres). The refuge was established in 1983 primarily to conserve the federally endangered northern red-bellied cooter (cooter). In addition, the refuge protects other wildlife and plant species, including rare moths and other native pollinators, migratory songbirds, and small mammals. Habitats on the refuge include pine-oak upland forest with varying understory types, and coastal plain ponds and associated shoreline and upland habitats. The refuge is currently closed to all public uses. It has not been open to the public since its establishment due to both staffing limitations and the presence of the cooter that is sensitive to disturbance. Exceptions have been made for occasional interpretive and environmental education programs under a special use permit (SUP), or via special staff-led programs. Background The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd–668ee) (Refuge 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, 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 wildlifedependent 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 Refuge Administration Act. PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Public Outreach In April 2012, we distributed a planning newsletter to inform stakeholders about the planning process and asked recipients to contact us about issues or concerns they would like us to address. We also posted the newsletter on our Web site and published news releases in local newspapers. We held stakeholder and public scoping meetings in early April 2012, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. These meetings helped refine the partner and public concerns to be address in the planning process. Throughout the planning process, refuge staff have conducted additional outreach via participation in community meetings and events, other public forums, and meetings with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. We have considered and evaluated all of the comments we received and address them in various ways in the two alternatives presented in the draft CCP and EA. CCP Alternatives We Are Considering We developed and evaluated two management alternatives in the draft CCP and EA. A full description of each alternative is in the draft plan. Both alternatives include measures to continue conducting biological and ecological research and investigations on cooters, as well as continue active habitat management to benefit the cooters and other species of concern. There are other actions that differ among the alternatives. Below, we provide summaries of the two alternatives, highlighting the differences. Alternative A (Current Management) Alternative A is the ‘‘no action’’ alternative required by the National Environmental Policy Act. Alternative A defines our current management activities, including those planned, funded, or underway, and serves as the baseline against which to compare alternative B. Under alternative A, we would continue to contribute to rangewide cooter population recovery goals by protecting existing pond and shoreline habitat on the refuge from human disturbance, creating and maintaining high quality nesting habitat, and increasing nest success and hatchling survival. Our work with the cooter recovery team and species experts would continue to refine our understanding of species habitat requirements and the factors limiting survival and reproduction. We would continue to manage mixed pine-oak forest and other upland habitats to E:\FR\FM\17MRN1.SGM 17MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 51 / Friday, March 17, 2017 / Notices reduce hazardous fuel loading through mechanical clearing and prescribed fire. We would also continue to allow limited environmental education and interpretation programs under a SUP, or led by refuge staff. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Alternative B (Increased Ecosystem Monitoring, Partnerships, and Public Use; Service-Preferred Alternative) Alternative B is the Service-preferred alternative. It combines the actions we believe would best achieve the refuge’s purposes, vision, and goals and respond to public issues. Alternative B represents an extension and progression of all areas of current refuge management, including additional biological work, increased visitor services opportunities, and enhanced outreach to local communities. Alternative B places a greater emphasis on the importance of the refuge in a larger landscape context. This alternative would expand habitat management and monitoring for cooter and other species on additional refugeowned parcels, and would include the use of prescribed burning to increase the structure and species composition of upland habitats to benefit wildlife resources of concern. Alternative B would pursue the Service’s administrative requirements to evaluate potential hunting opportunities on the Crooked Pond parcel. Wildlife observation, photography, interpretation, and environmental education would be allowed on special occasions when led by refuge staff or partners working under a SUP. These activities would allow visitors to gain a better understanding of the unique natural resources the refuge protects and encourage visitors to become better stewards and advocates for resource conservation. Under alternative B, refuge staff would increase outreach to the local community to raise the refuge’s visibility and promote the relevancy of the refuge and the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex to conservation in southeast Massachusetts. Next Steps After this comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and address them in the form of a final CCP and, if appropriate, finding of no significant impact. Public Availability of Documents In addition to any methods listed in ADDRESSES, you can view or obtain documents from the agency Web site at: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Massasoit/ what_we_do/conservation.html. VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:02 Mar 16, 2017 Jkt 241001 Submitting Comments We consider comments substantive if they: • Question, with reasonable basis, the accuracy of the information in the document. • Question, with reasonable basis, the adequacy of the EA. • Present reasonable alternatives other than those presented in the EA. • Provide new or additional information relevant to the EA. Public Availability of Comments Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comments, 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: March 13, 2017. Wendi Weber, Regional Director, Northeast Region. [FR Doc. 2017–05369 Filed 3–16–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLMTM00000.L111100000.XP0000 17XL1109AF MO#4500082502] Notice of Public Meeting; Central Montana Resource Advisory Council Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: In accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Central Montana Resource Advisory Council (RAC) will meet as indicated below. DATES: The Central Montana RAC meeting will be held on March 29 and 30, 2017, in Glasgow, Montana. The meeting on March 29, 2017, will be held from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., with a 30-minute public comment period at 12:30 p.m. RAC members will take a field trip on March 30, 2017. ADDRESSES: The meetings will be in the Cottonwood Inn Conference Room, 54250 U.S. Hwy. 2, Glasgow, MT 59230. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Albers, North Central Montana District Manager, 1220 38th Street SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 14229 North, Great Falls, MT 59401, (406) 791–7794, malbers@blm.gov. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1–800–677–8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours. This 15member council advises the Secretary of the Interior, through the BLM, on a variety of management issues associated with public land management in Montana. During these meetings, the RAC is scheduled to participate in, discuss, and act upon these topics or activities. All RAC meetings are open to the public. Agenda items for the March 29–30, 2017, sessions include, but are not limited to: An update on implementation of the existing Sweet Grass Hills mineral withdrawal; an update on the American Prairie Reserve bison conversion proposal; information on BLM travel management planning; HiLine precipitation; a briefing on the proposed Sandy Coal Boat Ramp; regular business items such as planning the next meeting’s agenda; and. a field trip to a sage grouse lek. The RAC meeting will also have time allocated for oral public comments. Depending on the number of persons wishing to comment and time available, the time for individual oral comments may be limited. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comments, please 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. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Authority: 43 CFR 1784.4–2. Rick Hotaling, Acting Associate State Director, BLM Montana/Dakotas. [FR Doc. 2017–05386 Filed 3–16–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–DN–P E:\FR\FM\17MRN1.SGM 17MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 51 (Friday, March 17, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 14228-14229]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-05369]



[[Page 14228]]

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2016-N217; BAC-4333-99]


Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge, Plymouth, MA; Draft 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment

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 Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge 
(NWR) for public review and comment. Massasoit NWR is located in 
Plymouth, Massachusetts, and is administered by staff at Eastern 
Massachusetts NWR Complex based in Sudbury, Massachusetts. The draft 
CCP and EA describes two alternatives for managing Massasoit NWR for 
the next 15 years. Alternative B is identified as the Service-preferred 
alternative. Also available for public review and comment are the draft 
compatibility determinations, which are included as appendix B in the 
draft CCP and EA.

DATES: To ensure consideration of your written comments, please send 
them by May 16, 2017. We will also hold a public meeting. We will 
announce the meeting and other opportunities for public input in local 
news media, via our project mailing list, and on the refuge planning 
Web site: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Massasoit/what_we_do/conservation.html.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, request copies of the document, or 
obtain more information on the plan by any of the following methods.
    Email: northeastplanning@fws.gov. Please include ``Massasoit CCP'' 
in the subject line of the message.
    U.S. Mail: Elizabeth Herland, Project Leader, Eastern Massachusetts 
NWR Complex, 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, MA 01776.
    Fax: Attention: Elizabeth Herland, 978-443-2898.
    In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call Elizabeth Herland, 
Project Leader, Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex, at 978-579-4026, 
during regular business hours to make an appointment to view the 
document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Elizabeth Herland, Project Leader, 
Eastern Massachusetts NWR; mailing address: 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, 
MA 01776; 978-579-4026 (phone); 978-443-2898 (fax); 
northeastplanning@fws.gov (email) (please put ``Massasoit NWR'' in the 
subject line).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Introduction

    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Massasoit NWR. We 
published our original notice of intent to prepare a CCP in the Federal 
Register on January 10, 2012 (77 FR 1503).
    The 209-acre Massasoit NWR is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, 
and is comprised of three parcels: Crooked Pond (184 acres), Island 
Pond (15 acres), and Hoyts Pond (10 acres). The refuge was established 
in 1983 primarily to conserve the federally endangered northern red-
bellied cooter (cooter). In addition, the refuge protects other 
wildlife and plant species, including rare moths and other native 
pollinators, migratory songbirds, and small mammals. Habitats on the 
refuge include pine-oak upland forest with varying understory types, 
and coastal plain ponds and associated shoreline and upland habitats.
    The refuge is currently closed to all public uses. It has not been 
open to the public since its establishment due to both staffing 
limitations and the presence of the cooter that is sensitive to 
disturbance. Exceptions have been made for occasional interpretive and 
environmental education programs under a special use permit (SUP), or 
via special staff-led programs.

Background

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Refuge 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, 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 Refuge Administration Act.

Public Outreach

    In April 2012, we distributed a planning newsletter to inform 
stakeholders about the planning process and asked recipients to contact 
us about issues or concerns they would like us to address. We also 
posted the newsletter on our Web site and published news releases in 
local newspapers. We held stakeholder and public scoping meetings in 
early April 2012, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. These meetings helped 
refine the partner and public concerns to be address in the planning 
process. Throughout the planning process, refuge staff have conducted 
additional outreach via participation in community meetings and events, 
other public forums, and meetings with the Massachusetts Division of 
Fisheries and Wildlife. We have considered and evaluated all of the 
comments we received and address them in various ways in the two 
alternatives presented in the draft CCP and EA.

CCP Alternatives We Are Considering

    We developed and evaluated two management alternatives in the draft 
CCP and EA. A full description of each alternative is in the draft 
plan. Both alternatives include measures to continue conducting 
biological and ecological research and investigations on cooters, as 
well as continue active habitat management to benefit the cooters and 
other species of concern.
    There are other actions that differ among the alternatives. Below, 
we provide summaries of the two alternatives, highlighting the 
differences.

Alternative A (Current Management)

    Alternative A is the ``no action'' alternative required by the 
National Environmental Policy Act. Alternative A defines our current 
management activities, including those planned, funded, or underway, 
and serves as the baseline against which to compare alternative B. 
Under alternative A, we would continue to contribute to rangewide 
cooter population recovery goals by protecting existing pond and 
shoreline habitat on the refuge from human disturbance, creating and 
maintaining high quality nesting habitat, and increasing nest success 
and hatchling survival. Our work with the cooter recovery team and 
species experts would continue to refine our understanding of species 
habitat requirements and the factors limiting survival and 
reproduction. We would continue to manage mixed pine-oak forest and 
other upland habitats to

[[Page 14229]]

reduce hazardous fuel loading through mechanical clearing and 
prescribed fire. We would also continue to allow limited environmental 
education and interpretation programs under a SUP, or led by refuge 
staff.

Alternative B (Increased Ecosystem Monitoring, Partnerships, and Public 
Use; Service-Preferred Alternative)

    Alternative B is the Service-preferred alternative. It combines the 
actions we believe would best achieve the refuge's purposes, vision, 
and goals and respond to public issues. Alternative B represents an 
extension and progression of all areas of current refuge management, 
including additional biological work, increased visitor services 
opportunities, and enhanced outreach to local communities. Alternative 
B places a greater emphasis on the importance of the refuge in a larger 
landscape context. This alternative would expand habitat management and 
monitoring for cooter and other species on additional refuge-owned 
parcels, and would include the use of prescribed burning to increase 
the structure and species composition of upland habitats to benefit 
wildlife resources of concern.
    Alternative B would pursue the Service's administrative 
requirements to evaluate potential hunting opportunities on the Crooked 
Pond parcel. Wildlife observation, photography, interpretation, and 
environmental education would be allowed on special occasions when led 
by refuge staff or partners working under a SUP. These activities would 
allow visitors to gain a better understanding of the unique natural 
resources the refuge protects and encourage visitors to become better 
stewards and advocates for resource conservation.
    Under alternative B, refuge staff would increase outreach to the 
local community to raise the refuge's visibility and promote the 
relevancy of the refuge and the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex to 
conservation in southeast Massachusetts.

Next Steps

    After this comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them in the form of a final CCP and, if appropriate, finding of 
no significant impact.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to any methods listed in ADDRESSES, you can view or 
obtain documents from the agency Web site at: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Massasoit/what_we_do/conservation.html.

Submitting Comments

    We consider comments substantive if they:
     Question, with reasonable basis, the accuracy of the 
information in the document.
     Question, with reasonable basis, the adequacy of the EA.
     Present reasonable alternatives other than those presented 
in the EA.
     Provide new or additional information relevant to the EA.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comments, 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: March 13, 2017.
Wendi Weber,
Regional Director, Northeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2017-05369 Filed 3-16-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P