Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge; Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Ottawa, and Sequoyah Counties, OK; Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment, 9410-9415 [2013-02976]

Download as PDF 9410 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 27 / Friday, February 8, 2013 / Notices Office, 3817 Luker Road, Cortland, NY 13045; or by phone at 607–753–9334; or (3) Mr. Mike Armstrong, Endangered Species Biologist, by U.S. mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services Field Office, J.C. Watts Federal Building, Room 265, 330 West Broadway, Frankfort, KY 40601–8670; or by phone at 502–229–4632. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Background The Indiana bat was originally listed as in danger of extinction under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966. It was subsequently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. Summer survey guidelines (mist-netting protocols) were first developed for the species in the early 1990s and the USFWS provided revised mist-netting guidelines in our 2007 Draft Revised Recovery Plan. The USFWS recently convened a group of State and Federal agency representatives to revise existing survey guidelines. We solicited peer review through the bat working groups across the range of the Indiana bat between February and March 2012 and received comments from 57 individuals. Based upon comments received and the results of pilot testing of the survey guidelines at known Indiana bat maternity colonies in the summer of 2012, we offer the revised guidelines for public review and comment. In addition to soliciting comments on draft survey guidelines for determining presence or probable absence of Indiana bats in the summer, we request comment on our proposed approach and criteria for testing the accuracy and suitability of available acoustic identification software programs. Only programs that pass our suitability test would be approved by the USFWS for official survey use. Our goal is to incorporate comments and finalize the draft survey guidelines and testing criteria in time for implementation in the 2013 field season. However, should no USFWS-approved software programs be concurrently available, we propose to follow an intermediary contingency plan. The draft survey guidelines, draft acoustic identification software testing criteria, and 2013 contingency plan, with instructions for commenting, are available on the Internet (see ADDRESSES). Request for Public Comments We invite written comments on (1) The draft survey guidelines, (2) the acoustic identification software testing criteria, and (3) the 2013 contingency plan. Substantive comments may or may not result in changes to the USFWS VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:23 Feb 07, 2013 Jkt 229001 guidance document. Please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include. While all comments we receive will be considered in developing final documents, we encourage commenters to focus on those portions of the guidelines that have been revised, particularly those topics noted above that address peer-review comments. If you have previously submitted comments, you need not resubmit them because we have already incorporated them in the public record and will fully consider them in our final USFWS summer survey guidelines for the Indiana bat. All comments received by the date specified in DATES will be considered in preparing final documents. Methods of submitting comments are in ADDRESSES. Public Availability of Comments Responses to individual commenters will not be provided; however, we will provide the comments we receive and a summary of how we addressed substantive comments in a frequently asked questions document on the Web site listed above. If you submit comments or information by email to indiana_bat@fws.gov, your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made by hard copy that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hard copy and email submissions on the Web site listed above in ADDRESSES. Comments and materials we receive will be available on our Web site; however, individuals without internet access may request an appointment to inspect the comments during normal business hours at our office in Bloomington, Indiana (see ADDRESSES). Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: February 4, 2013. Sean O. Marsan, Acting Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Midwest Region. [FR Doc. 2013–02889 Filed 2–7–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R2–R–2012–N277; FXRS1265022CCP0–134–FF02R06000] Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge; Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Ottawa, and Sequoyah Counties, OK; 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 (Draft CCP) and an environmental assessment (EA) for Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), which is located within the approved acquisition area of Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Ottawa, and Sequoyah Counties of Oklahoma, for public review and comment. The Draft CCP/EA describes our proposal for managing the Refuge for the next 15 years. DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by March 8, 2013. Public meetings will be hosted on Monday, February 25th at the Delaware County Library, in Jay, OK 74346; Tuesday, February 26th at the Stilwell Community Center in Stilwell, OK; and Thursday, Februay 28th in the Community Ballroom of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Headquarters in Tahlequah, OK. All three meetings will begin at 5:30 p.m. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments or requests for copies or more information on the Draft CCP/EA by any of the methods listed below. You may request hard copies or a CD–ROM of the Draft CCP/EA documents. Please contact Sarah Catchot, Lead Planner, or Shea Hammond, Refuge Wildlife Specialist. Email: sarah_catchot@fws.gov. Include ‘‘Ozark Plateau NWR Draft CCP and EA’’ in the subject line of the message. U.S. Mail: Sarah Catchot, Lead Planner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NWRS Division of Planning, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shea Hammond, Refuge Wildlife Specialist of Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge, 16602 County Road 465, Colcord, OK 74338, Phone: 918– 326–0156. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\08FEN1.SGM 08FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 27 / Friday, February 8, 2013 / Notices Introduction With this notice, we continue the CCP process for the Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge. We started this process through a notice in the Federal Register on June 19, 1998 (63 FR 33693). The Refuge manages several units scattered throughout its seven-county (Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Ottawa, and Sequoyah) approved acquisition area in northeastern Oklahoma. Management units of Ozark Plateau NWR are identified, acquired, and/or managed based upon impact to federally listed threatened or endangered Ozark cave species, including cave habitat, groundwater recharge areas, foraging areas, and movement corridors important to these species as well as other species of concern. In addition, Ozark Plateau NWR’s management units play a role in conserving continuous tracts of mature oak-hickory or oakhickory-pine Ozark forest, beneficial to nesting and migrating Neotropical birds as well as cave species. Background The CCP Process 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 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 Formal scoping began with publication of a notice of intent to prepare a comprehensive conservation plan and environmental assessment in the Federal Register on June 19, 1998 (63 FR 33693). The Refuge solicited public comments on issues and concerns to aid in CCP development through three open house meetings held in December 2009 at Tribal Headquarters of the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, the Senior Center in Stilwell, and the Delaware County Library in Jay, Oklahoma. 9411 The Refuge also met on March 3, 2010, with the Cherokee Nation Environmental Protection Commission at the Cherokee Nation Headquarters to understand issues concerning the tribe and discuss potential ways to collaborate on solving issues common to the two agencies. On March 4, 2010, the Refuge met with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation staff at the Porter Office in Oklahoma also to discuss their concerns regarding past management, future management, and issues common to both agencies. The feedback received at the conclusion of the public scoping period identified numerous concerns from a variety of stakeholders. These concerns were organized by the following seven broad issue categories: Landscape-level, Habitat Management, Wildlife Management, Public Use Opportunities, Cultural Resources, Facilities & Infrastructure, and Administration. CCP Alternatives We Are Considering During the public scoping process with which we started work on this Draft CCP, we, other Federal agencies, Tribal Nations, State agencies, and the public raised multiple issues. Our Draft CCP addresses them. A full description of each alternative is in the EA (see Appendix A). To address these issues, we developed and evaluated the following alternatives, summarized in the table below. Issue Alternative A: current management Alternative B: proposed future management Landscape-Level Management Issue 1: Ozark Habitat Loss & Fragmentation. Acquire land from willing sellers or enter into agreements for conservation easements; maintain strong landscape-level partnerships; maintain 4,000 acres of forested habitat; restore 70 acres of agricultural land to forested habitat at Beck Unit; refrain from developing new roads or infrastructure. Monitor baseline data on cave microclimate changes; use energy-efficient heating/cooling system and water filtration system on Looney facility. Alternative (Alt) A + partner with the FWS southwestern, midwestern, southeastern and mountain-prairie regions to expand acquisition boundaries in the Ozark ecoregion; maintain, conserve, and restore up to 15,000 acres of acquired lands to native forest habitat. Alt A + implement long-term Anabat monitoring stations to monitor climate change impacts to bat species; expand data loggers for climate info; install weather stations; install solar panels on Refuge facilities; sequester carbon by restoring up to 15,000 acres of acquired lands to native forest habitat. Alt A + partner with U.S. Geological Services (USGS) and local universities to implement a permanent water quality and quantity monitoring program. Landscape-Level Management Issue 2: Climate Change. Landscape-Level Management Issue 3: Surface and Groundwater Quality & Quantity. sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Landscape-Level Management Issue 4: Whitenose Syndrome (WNS). VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:23 Feb 07, 2013 Jkt 229001 Survey groundwater recharge areas; acquire land and conservation easements from willing sellers to restore forest and control runoff; partner with adjacent and nearby landowners; sample water quality. Implement actions in WNS National Plan; close caves to the public; partner to monitor for WNS on and off Refuge; take recommended preventative measures in decontamination of staff caving gear; perform public outreach; gain Law Enforcement (LE) support from Sequoyah NWR. PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Alt A + coordinate/partner to implement permanent monitoring program to monitor species at risk, track movement and occurrence of WNS, and search for physical signs in Ozark ecoregion; develop a Refuge-specific WNS contingency plan; identify migration corridors; increase LE support; investigate feasibility of installing alarms inside caves. E:\FR\FM\08FEN1.SGM 08FEN1 9412 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 27 / Friday, February 8, 2013 / Notices Issue Alternative A: current management Alternative B: proposed future management Landscape-Level Management Issue 5: Wind Energy Farms. Monitor baseline data of bird/bat populations affected by wind turbines and determine locations to minimize impacts. Build and repair cave gates on- and off-Refuge; post signs prohibiting entry of caves; maintain confidentiality of cave locations; gain LE support ‘‘on call’’ from Sequoyah NWR; partner with landowners; survey and mark boundaries; implement fire management plans for Looney and Sally Bull Hollow Units. Perform cave bio-inventories; survey bat hibernacula and maternity sites; survey cavefish and cave crayfish; map subterranean extent of caves. Alt A + identify bat migration corridors; use GIS to delineate high-risk areas; quantify impacts; investigate mitigation measures. Alt A + increase LE presence; install alarm systems and infrared cameras at caves; search for unknown caves with partners; outreach to landowners. Habitat Management Issue 1: Degradation of Cave, Stream, and Forest Habitat. Habitat Management Issue 2: Lack of Detailed Scientific Cave Habitat Data. Remove with handtools, chainsaws, and mow on 10 acres; partner for burns and invasive control; inventory vegetation with Oklahoma State University; (see Fire Management, below). Habitat Management Issue 4: Fire Management Coordinate response to all wildfires based on ecological, social, and legal consequences of fire; implement Fire Management Plans for Looney and Sally Bull Hollow Units, including prescribed burns of 400 acres/year every 3–5 years. Wildlife Management Issue 1: Threatened and Endangered (T&E) Species and Species of Concern. Continue annual bio-inventorying research of cave fauna; monitor surveys of bat populations, activity, guano measurements, and cavefish/crayfish counts; monitor emergence/foraging/migration of bat species using radio telemetry, infrared video, and thermal imaging; partner with universities for genetic research. Wildlife Management Issue 2: Migratory and Resident Bird Species. Conduct bird counts during migration seasons; use prescribed fire on Looney and Sally Bull Hollow Units; enforce limited public use. Wildlife Management Issue 3: Resident NonT&E Species. Conduct mobile acoustic monitoring once or twice a month from spring through fall from roadways and cave entrances; perform bioinventories in 2–3 caves every 5 years. Wildlife Management Issue 4: Invasive Fauna Species and Pest Management. sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Habitat Management Issue 3: Invasive Flora .... No management for invasive fauna species and/or pests. Public Use Management Issue 1: Hunting ......... No hunting permitted ....................................... VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:23 Feb 07, 2013 Jkt 229001 PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Alt A + partner to develop habitat suitability indexes for cave species; research effects of prescribed burning/thinning on cave habitats and wildlife; implement acoustic monitor program for non-listed species; survey macroinvertebrates and other cave fauna. Alt A + work with partners to identify, document, and monitor all plant species occurring on the Refuge; assess changes in vegetation over time; use mechanical treatments and if necessary, use herbicide spottreatment a maximum of one to three applications per year, March–November (see Fire Management, below). Alt A + develop a Refuge-wide Fire Management Plan to increase use of prescribed fire to 1⁄3 of Refuge’s total acreage/year every 3–5 years; establish agreements with landowners to increase use of prescribed fire surrounding the Refuge; monitor effects of prescribed fire and midstory thinning on habitats and species. Alt A + establish permanent, stationary acoustic monitors in and around caves on all Units; establish permanent acoustic survey program on designated routes; develop a habitat suitability index model for T&E cave species; increase genetic research; install permanent cameras in caves; increase prescribed fires to all Units (see Fire Management). Alt A + identify all migratory bird species occurring on or near the Refuge (spring and fall); conduct seasonal nesting studies and MAPS banding of birds monthly for 6 months each year; increase prescribed fires to all Units (see Fire Management). Alt A + establish permanent, stationary acoustic monitors in and around caves on all Units; establish permanent acoustic survey program on designated routes; perform annual count surveys of non-listed cavefish and mark recapture of cave crayfish; survey all wildlife species occurring on Refuge; increase genetic research of cave species; install permanent cameras in caves; increase prescribed fires to all Units (see Fire Management). Partner to identify, document, and monitor all species occurring on the Refuge; conduct a feral hog, feral cat, and hothouse millipede survey; research eradication strategies; if necessary, develop an Integrated Pest Management Plan. Develop a Hunt Plan to allow walk-in-only, open-access hunting on the Sally Bull Hollow Unit, adjacent to the State-managed Ozark Plateau Wetlands Management Area (WMA). E:\FR\FM\08FEN1.SGM 08FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 27 / Friday, February 8, 2013 / Notices 9413 Issue Alternative A: current management Alternative B: proposed future management Public Use Management Issue 2: Environmental Education (EE). Partner to offer place-based EE programs on the Looney Unit and at the Mary & Murray Looney Education & Research Center (MMLERC), by permit only, limited to 10–20 people, 2–3 times per month in spring and fall, 1–2 times per month in summer and 1 per month in winter. Public Use Management Issue 3: Interpretation Partner to conduct interpretation programs on the Looney Unit and MMLERC, by permit only, for approximately 25 people per month on-site and to 5 to 100s of people per month off-site. Provide opportunities by permit only on the Looney Unit, in conjunction with interpretive and/or EE programs. Alt A + increase visitation to 50–100 people per week, 3–4 times per week in spring, summer, and fall and 10–20 people per week, 1–2 times per week in winter; expand programs to include after- and homeschool, teacher continuing education, gardening program, tribal-lead; train other FWS and partner agencies in effective EE methods; if necessary, develop a Visitor Services Plan. Alt A + offer interpretive programs to include permaculture gardening, showcase Refuge use of sustainable/green technologies; if necessary, develop a Visitor Services Plan. Public Use Management Issue 4: Wildlife Observation & Photography. Prohibit wood harvesting by the public ............ Public Use Management Issue 6: Public Outreach. Maintain confidentiality to protect Refuge resources (no pamphlets/fliers available). Cultural/Historical Resources Issue 1: Historical Sites. Management Keep sites confidential; partner with State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to preserve sites. Cultural/Historical Resources Management Issue 2: Archeological and Paleontological Sites. Keep sites confidential; partner with SHPO, Sam Noble Museum archeologists, and paleontologists to preserve sites. Facilities/Infrastructure Management Issue 1: Mary & Murray Looney Education & Research Center (MMLERC). Operate and maintain MMLERC (1,200 sq. ft.) facility; maintain Americans with Disability Act (ADA) accessibility. Facilities/Infrastructure Management Issue 2: Access Roads. sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Public Use Management Issue 5: Wood Harvesting. Maintain a 0.25-mile unpaved and unimproved access road to the MMLERC, with a gate; maintain an unpaved parking area for approximately 10 vehicles; excess parking near the maintenance shop. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:23 Feb 07, 2013 Jkt 229001 PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Alt A + allow walk-in access of wildlife observation and photography on Sally Bull Hollow Unit, aside from hunting season; explore additional opportunities on acquired lands; prohibit use in caves; install photography blinds and 3 primitive overlook areas on Looney Unit trails and potentially newly acquired lands. Permit wood harvesting by the public of downed-trees as Refuge forest and wildlife management needs dictate. Create a flier/brochure to advertise Visitor Services opportunities and update Refuge websites to include contact info; work with volunteers to establish an official Friends group to assist with public outreach. Alt A + increase LE from Sequoyah NWR to secure known sites; partner to preserve and perform studies on known sites and newly discovered sites. Alt A + increase LE from Sequoyah NWR to secure known sites; partner to preserve and survey known sites and newly discovered sites. Alt A + renovate roof; insulate basement and attic; renovate cabin exterior; renovate porch; renovate front door to be ADA-accessible; renovate one bathroom to be ADA-accessible; install monitored alarm system; replace plumbing system; replace electrical system; replace propane gas lines; install energy-efficient windows; maintain water filter; install rainwater collection system; build raised garden beds and relandscape with native plants; install solar panels; use energy-efficient heating and cooling system and appliances; install A/V technology; remove small cabin adjacent to MMLERC and replace with a 800 sq. ft. outdoor pavilion studio space and bridge. Alt A + improve roads and parking areas, including: widen MMLERC access drive/parking area by 2 feet and improve with gravel; improve road with gravel from county road to maintenance shop; improve parking area surfaces with gravel; improve 0.3 miles of gravel road on Beck Unit; improve and/or maintain roads on newly acquired lands, if necessary. E:\FR\FM\08FEN1.SGM 08FEN1 9414 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 27 / Friday, February 8, 2013 / Notices Issue Alternative A: current management Alternative B: proposed future management Facilities/Infrastructure Management Issue 3: Nature Trails and Overlooks. Utilize and maintain trails around the Refuge, including: deteriorating path from the MMLERC to the pavilion, small path from the parking area to the MMLERC, 1⁄4-mile trail from MMLERC to Spavinaw Creek, 1⁄8mile trail from MMLERC to the old garden area at top of hill, 150-yard trail from Guess house to the MMLERC, and 1⁄4-mile trails near the Guess house; no established overlook areas. Facilities/Infrastructure Management Issue 4: Public Use Signs and Interpretive Displays. No public use signs or interpretive signs posted on any Refuge units, except for outside of caves stating that they are closed to the public. Facilities/Infrastructure Management Issue 5: Refuge Headquarters (HQ) Site. No centralized HQ site—each staff member works out of the Oklahoma ES Office in Tulsa, the MMLERC (Refuge), and/or Sequoyah NWR. Facilities/Infrastructure Management Issue 6: Boundaries. Maintain and repair 60 miles of Unit boundaries with a total of over 4 miles of fencing and 11 gates. Facilities/Infrastructure Management Issue 7: Maintenance Shops and Service Buildings. Utilize and maintain three maintenance shops: Beck Unit Shop—50 x 30 ft metal building on concrete pad, Looney Unit: 50 x 30 ft metal building on concrete pad, and Guess House Shop. Facilities/Infrastructure Management Issue 8: Refuge Housing. Provide Refuge housing for Refuge staff at the Guess House and one bedroom for staff, volunteers, guests, etc. at the MMLERC cabin (Looney Unit); maintain agreement with Leslie Krause. Administration Management Issue 1: Funding and Staffing. Receive funding and staffing for operations, infrastructure, and maintenance, determined by Congress and allocated to refuges by the Southwest Regional Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; seek additional funding such as applying for grants and working with Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in order to leverage funds. No official Friends group established (support from National Speleological Society local chapters); approximately 5,000 to 10,000 volunteer hours total per year. Alt A + Establish a 0.25-mile primitive trail to connect the MMLERC trail to maintenance shop trail; build a 2-mile primitive trail around the perimeter of the Looney Unit; repave the 0.1-mile concrete path from the MMLERC cabin to the pavilion; improve the 0.25-mile trail with gravel from the Looney maintenance shop to the MMLERC; improve the 0.1-mile primitive trail with gravel from the parking/camping area on top of the hill down to the MMLERC. Construct and post a sign for the MMLERC and new HQ site; install directional MMLERC sign at the county road entrance; install signs at all cave entrances to prohibit public entry and also to inform them about White-nose Syndrome (WNS); install limited interpretive signage on Looney Unit. Acquire up to 15,000 acres of land and conservation easements from willing sellers within the approved acquisition boundary and utilize an acquired building(s), if appropriate, for new centralized HQ site; or build a new HQ site on centralized acquired site. Alt A + Contract surveyors to survey and mark all un-surveyed/un-marked Unit boundaries on the Refuge; maintain new markers. Alt A + build an additional 50 x 100 ft metal building on concrete pad maintenance shop at new HQ site; construct additional decontamination and storage facility at new HQ, with ventilation building; outfit facilities; construct a fueling station for Refuge vehicles and equipment at new HQ; reconstruct existing pole barn on the Beck Unit. Alt A + once HQ is established, convert existing Refuge office to a second guest room at the MMLERC; new HQ plan would include kitchen/bath facilities; construct two Recreational Vehicle (RV) pads at the new HQ site; construct RV pad on the Looney Unit; when agreement with Leslie Krause is terminated (donation), renovate Krause residence for Refuge housing. Same as Alt A. sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Administration Management Issue 2: Volunteers/Friends Program. VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:38 Feb 07, 2013 Jkt 229001 PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Alt A + coordinate with unofficial Friends group and/or dedicated volunteer members to encourage formation of official Friends Group; perform outreach to increase parttime, non-resident volunteers to approximately 10,000 to 20,000 volunteer hours per year; educate and train volunteers. E:\FR\FM\08FEN1.SGM 08FEN1 9415 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 27 / Friday, February 8, 2013 / Notices Issue Alternative A: current management Alternative B: proposed future management Administration Management Issue 3: Coordinate Beyond FWS Regional Boundaries to More Effectively Manage Federally Listed Cave Species on a Landscape Level. No management agreement in place to coordinate across FWS Regional boundaries to manage cave habitat and species. Coordinate with the State of Arkansas and FWS Region 4 to manage or co-manage Logan Cave NWR as a Unit of Ozark Plateau NWR; coordinate with the State of Missouri and FWS Region 3 to manage or co-manage Cavefish NWR and Pilot Knob NWR as Units of Ozark Plateau NWR; coordinate with the State of Kansas and FWS Region 6 for Ozark Plateau NWR to cooperate management of federally listed Ozark cave species; expand and establish new acquisition areas within the Ozark landscape across multiple State and Regional boundaries. • Our Web site: http://www.fws.gov/ southwest/refuges/Plan/ plansinprogress.html. • At the following public libraries: Public Availability of Documents In addition to any methods in ADDRESSES, you can view or obtain documents at the following locations: Library Address Delaware County Library ....................... Stilwell Public Library ............................. Tahlequah Public Library ....................... Miami Public Library ............................... Stanley Tubbs Memorial Library ............ Central Library ........................................ 429 South 9th St., Jay, OK 74346 ......................................................................... 5 N 6th St., Stilwell, OK 74960 .............................................................................. 120 S College Ave., Tahlequah, OK 74464 ........................................................... 200 N. Main, Miami, OK 74354 .............................................................................. 101 E Cherokee Ave., Sallisaw, OK 74955 ........................................................... 400 Civic Ctr., Tulsa, OK 74103 ............................................................................ Submitting Comments/Issues for Comment 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 environmental assessment (EA); • Present reasonable alternatives other than those presented in the EA; and/or • Provide new or additional information relevant to the assessment. Next Steps After this comment period ends, we will analyze each comment and address them in an appendix form of the Final CCP along with a finding of no significant impact. sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 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. Dated: November 30, 2012. Joy Nicholopoulos, Regional Director, Southwest Region. [FR Doc. 2013–02976 Filed 2–6–13; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R3–ES–2013–N027; FXES11130300000F3–134–FF03E00000] Endangered and Threatened Species; Permits Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of issuance of permits. AGENCY: Jkt 229001 We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have issued the following permits to conduct certain activities with endangered species under the authority of the Endangered Species Act, as amended (Act). SUMMARY: Ms. Lisa Mandell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services— Endangered Species, 5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437–1458; (612) 713–5343 (phone) or lisa_mandell@fws.gov (email). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: We have issued the following permits in response to recovery permit applications we received under the authority of section 10 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Each permit listed below was issued only after we determined that it was applied for in good faith, that granting the permit would not be to the disadvantage of the listed species, and that the terms and conditions of the permit were consistent with purposes and policy set forth in the Act. Permit No. ABR, INC. .................................................................................................................................... AHLSTEDT, STEVEN A .............................................................................................................. BAT CALLS IDENTIFICATION, INC. .......................................................................................... BAT CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT, INC. ................................................................... BENEDICT, RUSSELL A ............................................................................................................. BERNARDIN-LOCHMUELLER & ASSOCIATES ........................................................................ BHE ENVIRONMENTAL, INC ..................................................................................................... 17:23 Feb 07, 2013 918–253–8521 918–696–7512 918–456–2581 918–542–3064 918–596–7897 918–596–7897 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Applicant name VerDate Mar<15>2010 Phone number PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 224720 113009 60958A 212440 06820A 06845A 38789A E:\FR\FM\08FEN1.SGM 08FEN1 Date issued 4/10/2012 12/13/2012 2/17/2012 4/9/2012 5/16/2012 4/10/2012 5/24/2012 Date expired 12/31/2013 12/31/2014 12/31/2013 12/31/2012 12/31/2013 12/31/2013 12/31/2012

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 27 (Friday, February 8, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 9410-9415]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-02976]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-R-2012-N277; FXRS1265022CCP0-134-FF02R06000]


Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge; Adair, Cherokee, Craig, 
Delaware, Mayes, Ottawa, and Sequoyah Counties, OK; Draft Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan (Draft CCP) and 
an environmental assessment (EA) for Ozark Plateau National Wildlife 
Refuge (NWR), which is located within the approved acquisition area of 
Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Ottawa, and Sequoyah Counties 
of Oklahoma, for public review and comment. The Draft CCP/EA describes 
our proposal for managing the Refuge for the next 15 years.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
March 8, 2013. Public meetings will be hosted on Monday, February 25th 
at the Delaware County Library, in Jay, OK 74346; Tuesday, February 
26th at the Stilwell Community Center in Stilwell, OK; and Thursday, 
Februay 28th in the Community Ballroom of the Cherokee Nation Tribal 
Headquarters in Tahlequah, OK. All three meetings will begin at 5:30 
p.m.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments or requests for copies or more 
information on the Draft CCP/EA by any of the methods listed below. You 
may request hard copies or a CD-ROM of the Draft CCP/EA documents. 
Please contact Sarah Catchot, Lead Planner, or Shea Hammond, Refuge 
Wildlife Specialist.
    Email: sarah_catchot@fws.gov. Include ``Ozark Plateau NWR Draft 
CCP and EA'' in the subject line of the message.
    U.S. Mail: Sarah Catchot, Lead Planner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, NWRS Division of Planning, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 
87103.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shea Hammond, Refuge Wildlife 
Specialist of Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge, 16602 County Road 
465, Colcord, OK 74338, Phone: 918-326-0156.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

[[Page 9411]]

Introduction

    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for the Ozark Plateau 
National Wildlife Refuge. We started this process through a notice in 
the Federal Register on June 19, 1998 (63 FR 33693).
    The Refuge manages several units scattered throughout its seven-
county (Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Ottawa, and Sequoyah) 
approved acquisition area in northeastern Oklahoma. Management units of 
Ozark Plateau NWR are identified, acquired, and/or managed based upon 
impact to federally listed threatened or endangered Ozark cave species, 
including cave habitat, groundwater recharge areas, foraging areas, and 
movement corridors important to these species as well as other species 
of concern. In addition, Ozark Plateau NWR's management units play a 
role in conserving continuous tracts of mature oak-hickory or oak-
hickory-pine Ozark forest, beneficial to nesting and migrating 
Neotropical birds as well as cave species.

Background

The CCP Process

    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 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

    Formal scoping began with publication of a notice of intent to 
prepare a comprehensive conservation plan and environmental assessment 
in the Federal Register on June 19, 1998 (63 FR 33693). The Refuge 
solicited public comments on issues and concerns to aid in CCP 
development through three open house meetings held in December 2009 at 
Tribal Headquarters of the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, the Senior 
Center in Stilwell, and the Delaware County Library in Jay, Oklahoma.
    The Refuge also met on March 3, 2010, with the Cherokee Nation 
Environmental Protection Commission at the Cherokee Nation Headquarters 
to understand issues concerning the tribe and discuss potential ways to 
collaborate on solving issues common to the two agencies. On March 4, 
2010, the Refuge met with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife 
Conservation staff at the Porter Office in Oklahoma also to discuss 
their concerns regarding past management, future management, and issues 
common to both agencies.
    The feedback received at the conclusion of the public scoping 
period identified numerous concerns from a variety of stakeholders. 
These concerns were organized by the following seven broad issue 
categories: Landscape-level, Habitat Management, Wildlife Management, 
Public Use Opportunities, Cultural Resources, Facilities & 
Infrastructure, and Administration.

CCP Alternatives We Are Considering

    During the public scoping process with which we started work on 
this Draft CCP, we, other Federal agencies, Tribal Nations, State 
agencies, and the public raised multiple issues. Our Draft CCP 
addresses them. A full description of each alternative is in the EA 
(see Appendix A). To address these issues, we developed and evaluated 
the following alternatives, summarized in the table below.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       Alternative B:
            Issue                Alternative A:        proposed future
                               current management        management
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Landscape-Level Management    Acquire land from     Alternative (Alt) A
 Issue 1: Ozark Habitat Loss   willing sellers or    + partner with the
 & Fragmentation.              enter into            FWS southwestern,
                               agreements for        midwestern,
                               conservation          southeastern and
                               easements; maintain   mountain-prairie
                               strong landscape-     regions to expand
                               level partnerships;   acquisition
                               maintain 4,000        boundaries in the
                               acres of forested     Ozark ecoregion;
                               habitat; restore 70   maintain, conserve,
                               acres of              and restore up to
                               agricultural land     15,000 acres of
                               to forested habitat   acquired lands to
                               at Beck Unit;         native forest
                               refrain from          habitat.
                               developing new
                               roads or
                               infrastructure.
Landscape-Level Management    Monitor baseline      Alt A + implement
 Issue 2: Climate Change.      data on cave          long-term Anabat
                               microclimate          monitoring stations
                               changes; use energy-  to monitor climate
                               efficient heating/    change impacts to
                               cooling system and    bat species; expand
                               water filtration      data loggers for
                               system on Looney      climate info;
                               facility.             install weather
                                                     stations; install
                                                     solar panels on
                                                     Refuge facilities;
                                                     sequester carbon by
                                                     restoring up to
                                                     15,000 acres of
                                                     acquired lands to
                                                     native forest
                                                     habitat.
Landscape-Level Management    Survey groundwater    Alt A + partner with
 Issue 3: Surface and          recharge areas;       U.S. Geological
 Groundwater Quality &         acquire land and      Services (USGS) and
 Quantity.                     conservation          local universities
                               easements from        to implement a
                               willing sellers to    permanent water
                               restore forest and    quality and
                               control run-off;      quantity monitoring
                               partner with          program.
                               adjacent and nearby
                               landowners; sample
                               water quality.
Landscape-Level Management    Implement actions in  Alt A + coordinate/
 Issue 4: White-nose           WNS National Plan;    partner to
 Syndrome (WNS).               close caves to the    implement permanent
                               public; partner to    monitoring program
                               monitor for WNS on    to monitor species
                               and off Refuge;       at risk, track
                               take recommended      movement and
                               preventative          occurrence of WNS,
                               measures in           and search for
                               decontamination of    physical signs in
                               staff caving gear;    Ozark ecoregion;
                               perform public        develop a Refuge-
                               outreach; gain Law    specific WNS
                               Enforcement (LE)      contingency plan;
                               support from          identify migration
                               Sequoyah NWR.         corridors; increase
                                                     LE support;
                                                     investigate
                                                     feasibility of
                                                     installing alarms
                                                     inside caves.

[[Page 9412]]

 
Landscape-Level Management    Monitor baseline      Alt A + identify bat
 Issue 5: Wind Energy Farms.   data of bird/bat      migration
                               populations           corridors; use GIS
                               affected by wind      to delineate high-
                               turbines and          risk areas;
                               determine locations   quantify impacts;
                               to minimize impacts.  investigate
                                                     mitigation
                                                     measures.
Habitat Management Issue 1:   Build and repair      Alt A + increase LE
 Degradation of Cave,          cave gates on- and    presence; install
 Stream, and Forest Habitat.   off-Refuge; post      alarm systems and
                               signs prohibiting     infrared cameras at
                               entry of caves;       caves; search for
                               maintain              unknown caves with
                               confidentiality of    partners; outreach
                               cave locations;       to landowners.
                               gain LE support
                               ``on call'' from
                               Sequoyah NWR;
                               partner with
                               landowners; survey
                               and mark
                               boundaries;
                               implement fire
                               management plans
                               for Looney and
                               Sally Bull Hollow
                               Units.
Habitat Management Issue 2:   Perform cave bio-     Alt A + partner to
 Lack of Detailed Scientific   inventories; survey   develop habitat
 Cave Habitat Data.            bat hibernacula and   suitability indexes
                               maternity sites;      for cave species;
                               survey cavefish and   research effects of
                               cave crayfish; map    prescribed burning/
                               subterranean extent   thinning on cave
                               of caves.             habitats and
                                                     wildlife; implement
                                                     acoustic monitor
                                                     program for non-
                                                     listed species;
                                                     survey
                                                     macroinvertebrates
                                                     and other cave
                                                     fauna.
Habitat Management Issue 3:   Remove with           Alt A + work with
 Invasive Flora.               handtools,            partners to
                               chainsaws, and mow    identify, document,
                               on 10 acres;          and monitor all
                               partner for burns     plant species
                               and invasive          occurring on the
                               control; inventory    Refuge; assess
                               vegetation with       changes in
                               Oklahoma State        vegetation over
                               University; (see      time; use
                               Fire Management,      mechanical
                               below).               treatments and if
                                                     necessary, use
                                                     herbicide spot-
                                                     treatment a maximum
                                                     of one to three
                                                     applications per
                                                     year, March-
                                                     November (see Fire
                                                     Management, below).
Habitat Management Issue 4:   Coordinate response   Alt A + develop a
 Fire Management.              to all wildfires      Refuge-wide Fire
                               based on              Management Plan to
                               ecological, social,   increase use of
                               and legal             prescribed fire to
                               consequences of       \1/3\ of Refuge's
                               fire; implement       total acreage/year
                               Fire Management       every 3-5 years;
                               Plans for Looney      establish
                               and Sally Bull        agreements with
                               Hollow Units,         landowners to
                               including             increase use of
                               prescribed burns of   prescribed fire
                               400 acres/year        surrounding the
                               every 3-5 years.      Refuge; monitor
                                                     effects of
                                                     prescribed fire and
                                                     midstory thinning
                                                     on habitats and
                                                     species.
Wildlife Management Issue 1:  Continue annual bio-  Alt A + establish
 Threatened and Endangered     inventorying          permanent,
 (T&E) Species and Species     research of cave      stationary acoustic
 of Concern.                   fauna; monitor        monitors in and
                               surveys of bat        around caves on all
                               populations,          Units; establish
                               activity, guano       permanent acoustic
                               measurements, and     survey program on
                               cavefish/crayfish     designated routes;
                               counts; monitor       develop a habitat
                               emergence/foraging/   suitability index
                               migration of bat      model for T&E cave
                               species using radio   species; increase
                               telemetry, infrared   genetic research;
                               video, and thermal    install permanent
                               imaging; partner      cameras in caves;
                               with universities     increase prescribed
                               for genetic           fires to all Units
                               research.             (see Fire
                                                     Management).
Wildlife Management Issue 2:  Conduct bird counts   Alt A + identify all
 Migratory and Resident Bird   during migration      migratory bird
 Species.                      seasons; use          species occurring
                               prescribed fire on    on or near the
                               Looney and Sally      Refuge (spring and
                               Bull Hollow Units;    fall); conduct
                               enforce limited       seasonal nesting
                               public use.           studies and MAPS
                                                     banding of birds
                                                     monthly for 6
                                                     months each year;
                                                     increase prescribed
                                                     fires to all Units
                                                     (see Fire
                                                     Management).
Wildlife Management Issue 3:  Conduct mobile        Alt A + establish
 Resident Non-T&E Species.     acoustic monitoring   permanent,
                               once or twice a       stationary acoustic
                               month from spring     monitors in and
                               through fall from     around caves on all
                               roadways and cave     Units; establish
                               entrances; perform    permanent acoustic
                               bio-inventories in    survey program on
                               2-3 caves every 5     designated routes;
                               years.                perform annual
                                                     count surveys of
                                                     non-listed cavefish
                                                     and mark recapture
                                                     of cave crayfish;
                                                     survey all wildlife
                                                     species occurring
                                                     on Refuge; increase
                                                     genetic research of
                                                     cave species;
                                                     install permanent
                                                     cameras in caves;
                                                     increase prescribed
                                                     fires to all Units
                                                     (see Fire
                                                     Management).
Wildlife Management Issue 4:  No management for     Partner to identify,
 Invasive Fauna Species and    invasive fauna        document, and
 Pest Management.              species and/or        monitor all species
                               pests.                occurring on the
                                                     Refuge; conduct a
                                                     feral hog, feral
                                                     cat, and hothouse
                                                     millipede survey;
                                                     research
                                                     eradication
                                                     strategies; if
                                                     necessary, develop
                                                     an Integrated Pest
                                                     Management Plan.
Public Use Management Issue   No hunting permitted  Develop a Hunt Plan
 1: Hunting.                                         to allow walk-in-
                                                     only, open-access
                                                     hunting on the
                                                     Sally Bull Hollow
                                                     Unit, adjacent to
                                                     the State-managed
                                                     Ozark Plateau
                                                     Wetlands Management
                                                     Area (WMA).

[[Page 9413]]

 
Public Use Management Issue   Partner to offer      Alt A + increase
 2: Environmental Education    place-based EE        visitation to 50-
 (EE).                         programs on the       100 people per
                               Looney Unit and at    week, 3-4 times per
                               the Mary & Murray     week in spring,
                               Looney Education &    summer, and fall
                               Research Center       and 10-20 people
                               (MMLERC), by permit   per week, 1-2 times
                               only, limited to 10-  per week in winter;
                               20 people, 2-3        expand programs to
                               times per month in    include after- and
                               spring and fall, 1-   home- school,
                               2 times per month     teacher continuing
                               in summer and 1 per   education,
                               month in winter.      gardening program,
                                                     tribal-lead; train
                                                     other FWS and
                                                     partner agencies in
                                                     effective EE
                                                     methods; if
                                                     necessary, develop
                                                     a Visitor Services
                                                     Plan.
Public Use Management Issue   Partner to conduct    Alt A + offer
 3: Interpretation.            interpretation        interpretive
                               programs on the       programs to include
                               Looney Unit and       permaculture
                               MMLERC, by permit     gardening, showcase
                               only, for             Refuge use of
                               approximately 25      sustainable/green
                               people per month on-  technologies; if
                               site and to 5 to      necessary, develop
                               100s of people per    a Visitor Services
                               month off-site.       Plan.
Public Use Management Issue   Provide               Alt A + allow walk-
 4: Wildlife Observation &     opportunities by      in access of
 Photography.                  permit only on the    wildlife
                               Looney Unit, in       observation and
                               conjunction with      photography on
                               interpretive and/or   Sally Bull Hollow
                               EE programs.          Unit, aside from
                                                     hunting season;
                                                     explore additional
                                                     opportunities on
                                                     acquired lands;
                                                     prohibit use in
                                                     caves; install
                                                     photography blinds
                                                     and 3 primitive
                                                     overlook areas on
                                                     Looney Unit trails
                                                     and potentially
                                                     newly acquired
                                                     lands.
Public Use Management Issue   Prohibit wood         Permit wood
 5: Wood Harvesting.           harvesting by the     harvesting by the
                               public.               public of downed-
                                                     trees as Refuge
                                                     forest and wildlife
                                                     management needs
                                                     dictate.
Public Use Management Issue   Maintain              Create a flier/
 6: Public Outreach.           confidentiality to    brochure to
                               protect Refuge        advertise Visitor
                               resources (no         Services
                               pamphlets/fliers      opportunities and
                               available).           update Refuge
                                                     websites to include
                                                     contact info; work
                                                     with volunteers to
                                                     establish an
                                                     official Friends
                                                     group to assist
                                                     with public
                                                     outreach.
Cultural/Historical           Keep sites            Alt A + increase LE
 Resources Management Issue    confidential;         from Sequoyah NWR
 1: Historical Sites.          partner with State    to secure known
                               Historic              sites; partner to
                               Preservation Office   preserve and
                               (SHPO) to preserve    perform studies on
                               sites.                known sites and
                                                     newly discovered
                                                     sites.
Cultural/Historical           Keep sites            Alt A + increase LE
 Resources Management Issue    confidential;         from Sequoyah NWR
 2: Archeological and          partner with SHPO,    to secure known
 Paleontological Sites.        Sam Noble Museum      sites; partner to
                               archeologists, and    preserve and survey
                               paleontologists to    known sites and
                               preserve sites.       newly discovered
                                                     sites.
Facilities/Infrastructure     Operate and maintain  Alt A + renovate
 Management Issue 1: Mary &    MMLERC (1,200 sq.     roof; insulate
 Murray Looney Education &     ft.) facility;        basement and attic;
 Research Center (MMLERC).     maintain Americans    renovate cabin
                               with Disability Act   exterior; renovate
                               (ADA) accessibility.  porch; renovate
                                                     front door to be
                                                     ADA-accessible;
                                                     renovate one
                                                     bathroom to be ADA-
                                                     accessible; install
                                                     monitored alarm
                                                     system; replace
                                                     plumbing system;
                                                     replace electrical
                                                     system; replace
                                                     propane gas lines;
                                                     install energy-
                                                     efficient windows;
                                                     maintain water
                                                     filter; install
                                                     rainwater
                                                     collection system;
                                                     build raised garden
                                                     beds and re-
                                                     landscape with
                                                     native plants;
                                                     install solar
                                                     panels; use energy-
                                                     efficient heating
                                                     and cooling system
                                                     and appliances;
                                                     install A/V
                                                     technology; remove
                                                     small cabin
                                                     adjacent to MMLERC
                                                     and replace with a
                                                     800 sq. ft. outdoor
                                                     pavilion studio
                                                     space and bridge.
Facilities/Infrastructure     Maintain a 0.25-mile  Alt A + improve
 Management Issue 2: Access    unpaved and           roads and parking
 Roads.                        unimproved access     areas, including:
                               road to the MMLERC,   widen MMLERC access
                               with a gate;          drive/parking area
                               maintain an unpaved   by 2 feet and
                               parking area for      improve with
                               approximately 10      gravel; improve
                               vehicles; excess      road with gravel
                               parking near the      from county road to
                               maintenance shop.     maintenance shop;
                                                     improve parking
                                                     area surfaces with
                                                     gravel; improve 0.3
                                                     miles of gravel
                                                     road on Beck Unit;
                                                     improve and/or
                                                     maintain roads on
                                                     newly acquired
                                                     lands, if
                                                     necessary.

[[Page 9414]]

 
Facilities/Infrastructure     Utilize and maintain  Alt A + Establish a
 Management Issue 3: Nature    trails around the     0.25-mile primitive
 Trails and Overlooks.         Refuge, including:    trail to connect
                               deteriorating path    the MMLERC trail to
                               from the MMLERC to    maintenance shop
                               the pavilion, small   trail; build a 2-
                               path from the         mile primitive
                               parking area to the   trail around the
                               MMLERC, \1/4\-mile    perimeter of the
                               trail from MMLERC     Looney Unit; repave
                               to Spavinaw Creek,    the 0.1-mile
                               \1/8\-mile trail      concrete path from
                               from MMLERC to the    the MMLERC cabin to
                               old garden area at    the pavilion;
                               top of hill, 150-     improve the 0.25-
                               yard trail from       mile trail with
                               Guess house to the    gravel from the
                               MMLERC, and \1/4\-    Looney maintenance
                               mile trails near      shop to the MMLERC;
                               the Guess house; no   improve the 0.1-
                               established           mile primitive
                               overlook areas.       trail with gravel
                                                     from the parking/
                                                     camping area on top
                                                     of the hill down to
                                                     the MMLERC.
Facilities/Infrastructure     No public use signs   Construct and post a
 Management Issue 4: Public    or interpretive       sign for the MMLERC
 Use Signs and Interpretive    signs posted on any   and new HQ site;
 Displays.                     Refuge units,         install directional
                               except for outside    MMLERC sign at the
                               of caves stating      county road
                               that they are         entrance; install
                               closed to the         signs at all cave
                               public.               entrances to
                                                     prohibit public
                                                     entry and also to
                                                     inform them about
                                                     White-nose Syndrome
                                                     (WNS); install
                                                     limited
                                                     interpretive
                                                     signage on Looney
                                                     Unit.
Facilities/Infrastructure     No centralized HQ     Acquire up to 15,000
 Management Issue 5: Refuge    site--each staff      acres of land and
 Headquarters (HQ) Site.       member works out of   conservation
                               the Oklahoma ES       easements from
                               Office in Tulsa,      willing sellers
                               the MMLERC            within the approved
                               (Refuge), and/or      acquisition
                               Sequoyah NWR.         boundary and
                                                     utilize an acquired
                                                     building(s), if
                                                     appropriate, for
                                                     new centralized HQ
                                                     site; or build a
                                                     new HQ site on
                                                     centralized
                                                     acquired site.
Facilities/Infrastructure     Maintain and repair   Alt A + Contract
 Management Issue 6:           60 miles of Unit      surveyors to survey
 Boundaries.                   boundaries with a     and mark all un-
                               total of over 4       surveyed/un-marked
                               miles of fencing      Unit boundaries on
                               and 11 gates.         the Refuge;
                                                     maintain new
                                                     markers.
Facilities/Infrastructure     Utilize and maintain  Alt A + build an
 Management Issue 7:           three maintenance     additional 50 x 100
 Maintenance Shops and         shops: Beck Unit      ft metal building
 Service Buildings.            Shop--50 x 30 ft      on concrete pad
                               metal building on     maintenance shop at
                               concrete pad,         new HQ site;
                               Looney Unit: 50 x     construct
                               30 ft metal           additional
                               building on           decontamination and
                               concrete pad, and     storage facility at
                               Guess House Shop.     new HQ, with
                                                     ventilation
                                                     building; outfit
                                                     facilities;
                                                     construct a fueling
                                                     station for Refuge
                                                     vehicles and
                                                     equipment at new
                                                     HQ; reconstruct
                                                     existing pole barn
                                                     on the Beck Unit.
Facilities/Infrastructure     Provide Refuge        Alt A + once HQ is
 Management Issue 8: Refuge    housing for Refuge    established,
 Housing.                      staff at the Guess    convert existing
                               House and one         Refuge office to a
                               bedroom for staff,    second guest room
                               volunteers, guests,   at the MMLERC; new
                               etc. at the MMLERC    HQ plan would
                               cabin (Looney         include kitchen/
                               Unit); maintain       bath facilities;
                               agreement with        construct two
                               Leslie Krause.        Recreational
                                                     Vehicle (RV) pads
                                                     at the new HQ site;
                                                     construct RV pad on
                                                     the Looney Unit;
                                                     when agreement with
                                                     Leslie Krause is
                                                     terminated
                                                     (donation),
                                                     renovate Krause
                                                     residence for
                                                     Refuge housing.
Administration Management     Receive funding and   Same as Alt A.
 Issue 1: Funding and          staffing for
 Staffing.                     operations,
                               infrastructure, and
                               maintenance,
                               determined by
                               Congress and
                               allocated to
                               refuges by the
                               Southwest Regional
                               Office of the U.S.
                               Fish and Wildlife
                               Service; seek
                               additional funding
                               such as applying
                               for grants and
                               working with Non-
                               Government
                               Organizations
                               (NGOs) in order to
                               leverage funds.
Administration Management     No official Friends   Alt A + coordinate
 Issue 2: Volunteers/Friends   group established     with unofficial
 Program.                      (support from         Friends group and/
                               National              or dedicated
                               Speleological         volunteer members
                               Society local         to encourage
                               chapters);            formation of
                               approximately 5,000   official Friends
                               to 10,000 volunteer   Group; perform
                               hours total per       outreach to
                               year.                 increase part-time,
                                                     non-resident
                                                     volunteers to
                                                     approximately
                                                     10,000 to 20,000
                                                     volunteer hours per
                                                     year; educate and
                                                     train volunteers.

[[Page 9415]]

 
Administration Management     No management         Coordinate with the
 Issue 3: Coordinate Beyond    agreement in place    State of Arkansas
 FWS Regional Boundaries to    to coordinate         and FWS Region 4 to
 More Effectively Manage       across FWS Regional   manage or co-manage
 Federally Listed Cave         boundaries to         Logan Cave NWR as a
 Species on a Landscape        manage cave habitat   Unit of Ozark
 Level.                        and species.          Plateau NWR;
                                                     coordinate with the
                                                     State of Missouri
                                                     and FWS Region 3 to
                                                     manage or co-manage
                                                     Cavefish NWR and
                                                     Pilot Knob NWR as
                                                     Units of Ozark
                                                     Plateau NWR;
                                                     coordinate with the
                                                     State of Kansas and
                                                     FWS Region 6 for
                                                     Ozark Plateau NWR
                                                     to cooperate
                                                     management of
                                                     federally listed
                                                     Ozark cave species;
                                                     expand and
                                                     establish new
                                                     acquisition areas
                                                     within the Ozark
                                                     landscape across
                                                     multiple State and
                                                     Regional
                                                     boundaries.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to any methods in ADDRESSES, you can view or obtain 
documents at the following locations:
     Our Web site: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/Plan/plansinprogress.html.
     At the following public libraries:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Library                    Address            Phone number
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Delaware County Library......  429 South 9th St.,           918-253-8521
                                Jay, OK 74346.
Stilwell Public Library......  5 N 6th St.,                 918-696-7512
                                Stilwell, OK 74960.
Tahlequah Public Library.....  120 S College Ave.,          918-456-2581
                                Tahlequah, OK 74464.
Miami Public Library.........  200 N. Main, Miami,          918-542-3064
                                OK 74354.
Stanley Tubbs Memorial         101 E Cherokee Ave.,         918-596-7897
 Library.                       Sallisaw, OK 74955.
Central Library..............  400 Civic Ctr.,              918-596-7897
                                Tulsa, OK 74103.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Submitting Comments/Issues for Comment

    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 
environmental assessment (EA);
     Present reasonable alternatives other than those presented 
in the EA; and/or
     Provide new or additional information relevant to the 
assessment.

Next Steps

    After this comment period ends, we will analyze each comment and 
address them in an appendix form of the Final CCP along with a finding 
of no significant impact.

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.

    Dated: November 30, 2012.
Joy Nicholopoulos,
Regional Director, Southwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2013-02976 Filed 2-6-13; 11:15 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P