Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, AL, 63580-63583 [2015-26614]

Download as PDF 63580 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Notices directed to the OMB USCIS Desk Officer via email at oira_submission@ omb.eop.gov. Comments may also be submitted via fax at (202) 395–5806. All submissions received must include the agency name and the OMB Control Number 1615–0034. You may wish to consider limiting the amount of personal information that you provide in any voluntary submission you make. For additional information please read the Privacy Act notice that is available via the link in the footer of http://www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFOMRATION CONTACT: USCIS, Office of Policy and Strategy, Regulatory Coordination Division, Laura Dawkins, Chief, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529– 2140, Telephone number (202) 272– 8377 (comments are not accepted via telephone message). Please note contact information provided here is solely for questions regarding this notice. It is not for individual case status inquiries. Applicants seeking information about the status of their individual cases can check Case Status Online, available at the USCIS Web site at http:// www.uscis.gov, or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at (800) 375–5283; TTY (800) 767–1833. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Comments You may access the information collection instrument with instructions, or additional information by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal site at: http://www.regulations.gov and enter USCIS–2007–0034 in the search box. Written comments and suggestions from the public and affected agencies should address one or more of the following four points: (1) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:55 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 Overview of This Information Collection (1) Type of Information Collection Request: Revision of a Currently Approved Collection. (2) Title of the Form/Collection: Notice of Appeal of Decision Under Section 210 or 245A. (3) Agency form number, if any, and the applicable component of the DHS sponsoring the collection: Form I–694; USCIS. (4) Affected public who will be asked or required to respond, as well as a brief abstract: Primary: Individuals or households. USCIS uses the information provided on Form I–694 in considering the appeal from a finding that an applicant is ineligible for legalization under section 210 and 245A of the Act or is ineligible for a related waiver of inadmissibility. (5) An estimate of the total number of respondents and the amount of time estimated for an average respondent to respond: The estimated total number of respondents for the information collection Form I–694 is 50 and the estimated hour burden per response is 1.5 hours. (6) An estimate of the total public burden (in hours) associated with the collection: The total estimated annual hour burden associated with this collection is 75 hours. (7) An estimate of the total public burden (in cost) associated with the collection: $6,312.50. Dated: October 14, 2015. Laura Dawkins, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security. [FR Doc. 2015–26531 Filed 10–19–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–97–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R4–R–2015–N056: FXRS12650400000S3–123–FF04R02000] Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, AL 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 and environmental assessment (Draft CCP/EA) for Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 in Bibb County, Alabama for public review and comment. In this Draft CCP/ EA, we describe the alternative we propose to use to manage this refuge for the 15 years following approval of the Final CCP. DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments by November 19, 2015. ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the Draft CCP/EA by downloading the document from our Internet Site at http://fws.gov/southeast/planning/PDF documents/cahaba-river-draft-ccp.pdf. Comments on the Draft CCP/EA may also be submitted to Sarah Clardy-Draft CCP Comments at P.O. Box 5087, Anniston, AL 36205 or by email to: cahabariverccp@fws.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Sarah Clardy, Refuge Manager, Cahaba River NWR, P.O. Box 5087, Anniston, AL 36205; or cahabariverccp@fws.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Introduction With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Cahaba River NWR started through a notice in the Federal Register on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 (77 FR 27526). For more about the refuge and our CCP process, please see that notice. Cahaba River NWR was established in 2002 under the authority of the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge Establishment Act, Public Law 106–331, dated October 19, 2000. This legislation directed the Secretary of the Interior to acquire up to 3,500 acres of lands and waters to establish the refuge. In 2004, the Regional Director of the Service (Southeast Region) authorized the expansion of the acquisition boundary of the refuge to include an additional 340 acres of property at the confluence of the Cahaba and Little Cahaba Rivers. In 2006, Pub. Law 109–363 was signed by the President, authorizing further expansion of the acquisition boundary by 3,600 acres. In 2008, the Regional Director authorized a 360-acre expansion of the acquisition boundary. As of 2015, the refuge has an approved acquisition boundary of 7,784 acres of which 3,689.63 acres have been acquired in fee-title in Bibb County. The refuge was established to: (1) Conserve, enhance, and restore the native aquatic and terrestrial community characteristics of the Cahaba River (including associated fish, wildlife, and plant species); (2) conserve, enhance, and restore habitat to maintain and assist in the recovery of plants and animals that are listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973; (3) provide opportunities for compatible wildlife-dependent recreation; and (4) E:\FR\FM\20OCN1.SGM 20OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Notices facilitate partnerships among the Service, local communities, conservation organizations, and other non-Federal entities to encourage participation in the conservation of the refuge’s resources. Background The CCP Process The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd–668ee) (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, wildlife photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with the Administration Act. Priority resource issues addressed in the Draft CCP/EA include: Fish and Wildlife Populations, Habitat Management, Resource Protections, Visitor Services, and Refuge Administration. CCP Alternatives, Including Our Proposed Alternative We developed three alternatives for managing the refuge (Alternatives A, B, and C), with Alternative B as our proposed alternative. A full description of each alternative is in the Draft CCP/ EA. We summarize each alternative below. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Alternative A: Current Management— No Action Wildlife and Habitat Management There would be no management of riverine and Cahaba lily/water willow shoals habitats and exotic aquatic plants and Beaver Pond would not be managed. There would be no management of the following habitats: Beech, oak, laurel and azalea forest; Cahaba riverwash herbaceous vegetation; canebrake; oak, beech and sedge forest; oak, hickory, and iris forest; oak, holly, and sparkleberry forest; and tuliptree and VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:55 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 sensitive fern forest. For interior longleaf pine woodland and longleaf pine plantations, prescribed fire would be applied to approximately 250 acres every few years to help reduce encroachment of hardwoods and support a more diverse groundcover. No management of planted loblolly pine stands to restore to longleaf pine historically found in the watershed would occur. There would be no management of invasive or exotic species within the refuge boundaries. Genetic and population monitoring of Georgia aster that began in 2012 by the Atlanta Botanical Garden will continue. Ecological Services (FWS) would monitor and provide recommendations for management opportunities for Georgia rockcress or glades, however there would be no management implemented. There would be no active management by the refuge of federallylisted fish, mussels, and snails, with the exception of management via communication and education with local landowners about sedimentation and nutrient loading of aquatic habitats and providing sediment control through regular road maintenance of River Trace Road. Additionally, we would coordinate access to potential aquatic animal release sites by the State or other partners for reintroduction purposes. With the exception of occasional surveys and periodic management activities in select pine-dominated forest stands, no additional management would likely be conducted for migratory birds. For the endangered gray bat, surveys would be conducted sporadically. Visitor Services All hunting, fishing, environmental education, interpretation, wildlife observation, and wildlife photography opportunities would remain the same. Canoeing and kayaking would continue to occur on the refuge. The concrete basin used to launch boats upstream of the refuge would not be replaced if damaged. Resource Protection Several water resource management activities would likely continue. Currently, four water quality monitoring points are sampled quarterly (testing for heavy metals) as part of mine reclamation efforts. Testing would continue to occur from 2013 through 2015. In terms of protecting lands, the refuge would continue to explore conservation options with only willing landowners within acquisition boundary as funding and opportunities arise. These could include fee-title PO 00000 Frm 00084 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63581 purchases or less-than-fee options, such as easement purchases, management agreements, etc. Currently, there are no known cultural resources, and a comprehensive assessment would probably not be conducted. However, if sites are identified, the refuge will ensure cultural resource management and protection strategies are implemented. Refuge Administration The refuge manager would continue to be stationed in Anniston, AL, with oversight duties also including Mountain Longleaf and Watercress Darter NWRs. A deputy manager position would likely not be filled. The zone officer would continue to conduct periodic law enforcement patrols and respond to reported incidents on the refuge. On an as-needed basis, work crews from Wheeler NWR and possibly other refuges would periodically maintain and repair roads and unpaved parking areas, replace culverts, and maintain boundary markers. The refuge would solicit the help of volunteers to assist with maintenance of trails and repairing benches, etc. No facilities would be built on or near the refuge under this alternative. The refuge would continue relationships with current partners to expand the refuge’s capacity to protect and monitor biological resources, implement habitat improvement projects, enhance interaction and education of refuge visitors through on and off site events and encourage cooperative programs with academic institutions and nongovernmental organizations Alternative B: Expand Habitat and Wildlife Management (Proposed Alternative) Wildlife and Habitat Management The refuge would monitor the health and distribution of the Cahaba Lily population and work to educate the public about the fragility of these habitats to human disturbance. We would chemically control alligator weed on an annual basis. The refuge would re-inventory and create maps for the following habitats: Beech, oak, laurel and azalea forest; Cahaba riverwash herbaceous vegetation; canebrake; oak, beech and sedge forest; oak, hickory, and iris forest; oak, holly, and sparkleberry forest; and tuliptree and sensitive fern forest. The refuge would work to reestablish viable canebrake communities. For interior longleaf pine woodland; loblolly pine plantation; and longleaf E:\FR\FM\20OCN1.SGM 20OCN1 63582 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Notices pine plantation we would designate stand conditions for restoration purposes and reestablish a recurring fire regime. Surveys would be conducted to determine if glades habitat exists with the refuge boundary. The refuge would implement control measures and monitoring of invasive plant species (Chinese Privet, Alligator Weed, Kudzu, Mimosa, etc.) as appropriate. For Georgia aster, we would work with partners to conduct additional surveys and create a GIS database to map Georgia aster distribution. We would work with partners to continue surveys for Georgia rockcress and implement management strategies (including timber management and invasive species removal) to increase population size and the number of locations. The refuge would develop an educational program and evaluate overutilization of recreational use on the refuge and restore stream habitat that potentially impacts federally-listed mussels, snails, and fish. We would also work with partners to identify and provide access for reintroductions of these species. For neotropical migratory birds, we would resume biotic inventories utilizing refuge staff, local universities and partners. Habitats would be restored for focal species where appropriate. In addition, use of prescribed fire would be utilized to improve conditions for focal species that are dependent upon pinedominated habitats. The refuge would inventory and monitor for gray bats, bald eagles, and other surrogate species. We would work with partners to identify and provide assistance to landowners to conserve priority lands within the Cahaba River watershed by providing long term protection of valued resources within the watershed. The refuge would work with the regional archaeologist to complete a comprehensive historical and archaeological resource survey. Visitor Services Management of riverine and Cahaba lily/water willow shoals habitats would remain the same as Alternative A. For Beaver Pond, we would evaluate feasibility for restoring its natural hydrology. There would be no change in management for the following habitats: Beech, oak, laurel and azalea forest; Cahaba riverwash herbaceous vegetation; canebrake; oak, beech and sedge forest; oak, hickory, and iris forest; oak, holly, and sparkleberry forest; and tuliptree and sensitive fern forest. We would replace planted loblolly pine plantation stands, with longleaf pine, on an opportunistic basis. For interior longleaf pine woodland and longleaf pine plantation, we would use prescribed fire only to minimize threat of wildfire. There would be no surveys conducted for glades and no active management for Georgia aster. Management for federally listed aquatic species, neotropical migratory Opportunities for wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education, and interpretation would be expanded. The refuge would maintain bicycle riding opportunities and the current launch site for canoeing and kayaking. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Resource Protection The refuge would participate as stakeholder on regional water quality improvement efforts within the upper Cahaba Basin; work to improve water quality of refuge tributary streams through partnerships with adjacent land owners; and establish cooperative programs and partnerships with the University of Alabama for lands along the western refuge boundary. The refuge would also install a stream gage within the refuge boundary. Testing would continue to occur on four water quality monitoring points as part of mine reclamation efforts. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:55 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 Refuge Administration Seven additional complex staff would be needed to carry out the proposed projects. These positions include: An assistant refuge manager, biologist, equipment operator, park ranger, forester, law enforcement officer and biological technician. The refuge would improve River Trace Road (e.g. install low water crossings and culverts, improve road surface, etc.), protect the River Trace Road from erosion (undercutting by river), and improve Belcher Road through regular maintenance. No facilities would be built on or near the refuge however, a new complex office and maintenance shop would be constructed in Anniston, AL. The refuge would train volunteers to conduct interpretive programs (emphasizing the need for wildlife and habitat and wildlife management) and implement projects (interpretive signs, invasive species control, biological monitoring, etc.). The volunteer program would be expanded to include an Americorp team. Alternative C: Emphasize Natural and Primitive Processes Wildlife and Habitat Management PO 00000 Frm 00085 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 birds, gray bat, bald eagle, and other surrogate species would be the same as under Alternative B. Visitor Services River Trace Road would be closed to motor vehicles and converted to a trail. We would work with partners to develop and present educational programs that emphasize the role of natural ecological processes in shaping wildlife habitats. We would develop interpretive materials and messages that emphasize the role of natural and primitive processes in shaping wildlife habitats. We would remove the concrete basin that is used to launch canoes and kayaks. Resource Protection For water quality, management would be similar to Alternative B, but we would also ensure that mine tailings do not contaminate groundwater through removal or other means. We would restore the natural hydrology on the refuge in areas where there is the greatest need. Land protection efforts would focus on tracts within the acquisition boundary based on their potential role in creating a more connected and functional ecosystem. Refuge Administration Under this alternative, the following three additional staff would be required: Biologist, biological technician, and equipment operator. We would evaluate which road-side ditches and culverts would need to be altered to restore the former hydrology and reduce sedimentation. No facilities would be leased, acquired, or built under this alternative. Volunteers and Other Partnerships We would offer our volunteers training to conduct interpretive programs that emphasize the role of natural and primitive processes in shaping wildlife habitat. Next Step After the comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and address them in the Final CCP. 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 E:\FR\FM\20OCN1.SGM 20OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 202 / Tuesday, October 20, 2015 / Notices information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Authority This notice is published under the authority of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.). Resolution No. T–117–12, dated July 5, 2012, in which the Yakama Nation requested that the State of Washington retrocede partial civil and criminal jurisdiction to the Tribe. Dated: October 14, 2015. Kevin K. Washburn, Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs. [FR Doc. 2015–26620 Filed 10–19–15; 8:45 am] Dated: October 14, 2015. Richard P. Ingram, Acting Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System. BILLING CODE 4337–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR [FR Doc. 2015–26614 Filed 10–19–15; 8:45 am] Bureau of Land Management BILLING CODE 4333–15–P [LLWO210000.16X.L11100000.PH0000 LXSISGST0000] DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Notice of Proposed Withdrawal; Sagebrush Focal Areas; Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming and Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement Bureau of Indian Affairs [156A2100DD/AAKC001030/ A0A501010.999900 253G] Acceptance of Retrocession of Jurisdiction for the Yakama Nation AGENCY: Correction Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Correction Notice. AGENCY: Interior. ACTION: Notice. The Department of Interior (Department) has accepted retrocession to the United States of partial civil and criminal jurisdiction over the Yakama Nation from the State of Washington. DATES: The Department accepted retrocession on October 19, 2015. Complete implementation of jurisdiction will be effective April 19, 2016. SUMMARY: Mr. Darren Cruzan, Deputy Director—Office of Justice Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, (202) 208–5787. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under the authority of 25 U.S.C. 1323, vested in the Secretary of the Interior by Executive Order No. 11435 of November 21, 1968, 33 FR 17339, and re-delegated to the Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs, the United States accepts partial civil and criminal jurisdiction over the Yakama Nation which was acquired by the State of Washington, under Public Law 83–280, 67 Stat. 588, codified as amended at 18 U.S.C. 1162, 28 U.S.C. 1360, and as provided in Revised Code of Washington 37.12.010, 37.12.021, 37.12.030, 37.12.040, and 37.12.060 (1963), and 37.12.050 (1957). This retrocession was offered by the State of Washington in Proclamation by the Governor 14–01, signed on January 17, 2014, and transmitted to the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs in accordance with the process in Revised Code of Washington 37.12.160 (2012), and as provided by Tribal Council mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:55 Oct 19, 2015 Jkt 238001 This action corrects the language found in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of a notice published in the Federal Register on Thursday, September 24, 2015 (80 FR 57635 to 57637). On page 57636, column 2, beginning on line 9, the text which reads ‘‘The Sagebrush Focal Areas include all public and National Forest System lands identified in the townships below:’’, is hereby corrected to read, ‘‘The Sagebrush Focal Areas consist of those public and National Forest System lands within the townships below that are identified as Sagebrush Focal Areas on the map posted on the BLM Web site at http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/ more/sagegrouse.html:’’ SUMMARY: Steven A. Ellis, Deputy Director, Operations. [FR Doc. 2015–26633 Filed 10–19–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–84–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service [NPS–WASO–NAGPRA–19337: PPWOCRADN0–PCU00RP14.R50000] Notice of Inventory Completion: History Colorado, Formerly Colorado Historical Society, Denver, CO National Park Service, Interior. Notice. AGENCY: ACTION: PO 00000 Frm 00086 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63583 History Colorado, formerly Colorado Historical Society, has completed an inventory of human remains, in consultation with the appropriate Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations, and has determined that there is no cultural affiliation between the human remains and any present-day Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations. Representatives of any Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization not identified in this notice that wish to request transfer of control of these human remains should submit a written request to History Colorado. If no additional requestors come forward, transfer of control of the human remains to the Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations stated in this notice may proceed. DATES: Representatives of any Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization not identified in this notice that wish to request transfer of control of these human remains should submit a written request with information in support of the request to History Colorado at the address in this notice by November 19, 2015. ADDRESSES: Sheila Goff, NAGPRA Liaison, History Colorado, 1200 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203, telephone (303) 866–4531, email sheila.goff@ state.co.us. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Notice is here given in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), 25 U.S.C. 3003, of the completion of an inventory of human remains under the control of History Colorado, Denver, CO. This notice is published as part of the National Park Service’s administrative responsibilities under NAGPRA, 25 U.S.C. 3003(d)(3) and 43 CFR 10.11(d). The determinations in this notice are the sole responsibility of the museum, institution, or Federal agency that has control of the Native American human remains. The National Park Service is not responsible for the determinations in this notice. SUMMARY: Consultation A detailed assessment of the human remains was made by History Colorado professional staff in consultation with representatives of the Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming; Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Oklahoma (previously listed as the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma); Comanche Nation, Oklahoma; Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma; Jicarilla Apache Nation, New Mexico; Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma; Mescalero Apache Tribe of E:\FR\FM\20OCN1.SGM 20OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 202 (Tuesday, October 20, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 63580-63583]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-26614]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2015-N056: FXRS12650400000S3-123-FF04R02000]


Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, AL

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 and 
environmental assessment (Draft CCP/EA) for Cahaba River National 
Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Bibb County, Alabama for public review and 
comment. In this Draft CCP/EA, we describe the alternative we propose 
to use to manage this refuge for the 15 years following approval of the 
Final CCP.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by November 19, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the Draft CCP/EA by downloading the 
document from our Internet Site at http://fws.gov/southeast/planning/PDFdocuments/cahaba-river-draft-ccp.pdf. Comments on the Draft CCP/EA 
may also be submitted to Sarah Clardy-Draft CCP Comments at P.O. Box 
5087, Anniston, AL 36205 or by email to: cahabariverccp@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Sarah Clardy, Refuge Manager, 
Cahaba River NWR, P.O. Box 5087, Anniston, AL 36205; or 
cahabariverccp@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Cahaba River NWR 
started through a notice in the Federal Register on Tuesday, November 
13, 2012 (77 FR 27526). For more about the refuge and our CCP process, 
please see that notice.
    Cahaba River NWR was established in 2002 under the authority of the 
Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge Establishment Act, Public Law 
106-331, dated October 19, 2000. This legislation directed the 
Secretary of the Interior to acquire up to 3,500 acres of lands and 
waters to establish the refuge. In 2004, the Regional Director of the 
Service (Southeast Region) authorized the expansion of the acquisition 
boundary of the refuge to include an additional 340 acres of property 
at the confluence of the Cahaba and Little Cahaba Rivers. In 2006, Pub. 
Law 109-363 was signed by the President, authorizing further expansion 
of the acquisition boundary by 3,600 acres. In 2008, the Regional 
Director authorized a 360-acre expansion of the acquisition boundary. 
As of 2015, the refuge has an approved acquisition boundary of 7,784 
acres of which 3,689.63 acres have been acquired in fee-title in Bibb 
County.
    The refuge was established to: (1) Conserve, enhance, and restore 
the native aquatic and terrestrial community characteristics of the 
Cahaba River (including associated fish, wildlife, and plant species); 
(2) conserve, enhance, and restore habitat to maintain and assist in 
the recovery of plants and animals that are listed under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973; (3) provide opportunities for compatible wildlife-
dependent recreation; and (4)

[[Page 63581]]

facilitate partnerships among the Service, local communities, 
conservation organizations, and other non-Federal entities to encourage 
participation in the conservation of the refuge's resources.

Background

The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (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, wildlife photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update 
the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with the Administration 
Act.
    Priority resource issues addressed in the Draft CCP/EA include: 
Fish and Wildlife Populations, Habitat Management, Resource 
Protections, Visitor Services, and Refuge Administration.

CCP Alternatives, Including Our Proposed Alternative

    We developed three alternatives for managing the refuge 
(Alternatives A, B, and C), with Alternative B as our proposed 
alternative. A full description of each alternative is in the Draft 
CCP/EA. We summarize each alternative below.

Alternative A: Current Management--No Action

Wildlife and Habitat Management
    There would be no management of riverine and Cahaba lily/water 
willow shoals habitats and exotic aquatic plants and Beaver Pond would 
not be managed.
    There would be no management of the following habitats: Beech, oak, 
laurel and azalea forest; Cahaba riverwash herbaceous vegetation; 
canebrake; oak, beech and sedge forest; oak, hickory, and iris forest; 
oak, holly, and sparkleberry forest; and tuliptree and sensitive fern 
forest. For interior longleaf pine woodland and longleaf pine 
plantations, prescribed fire would be applied to approximately 250 
acres every few years to help reduce encroachment of hardwoods and 
support a more diverse groundcover. No management of planted loblolly 
pine stands to restore to longleaf pine historically found in the 
watershed would occur. There would be no management of invasive or 
exotic species within the refuge boundaries.
    Genetic and population monitoring of Georgia aster that began in 
2012 by the Atlanta Botanical Garden will continue. Ecological Services 
(FWS) would monitor and provide recommendations for management 
opportunities for Georgia rockcress or glades, however there would be 
no management implemented.
    There would be no active management by the refuge of federally-
listed fish, mussels, and snails, with the exception of management via 
communication and education with local landowners about sedimentation 
and nutrient loading of aquatic habitats and providing sediment control 
through regular road maintenance of River Trace Road. Additionally, we 
would coordinate access to potential aquatic animal release sites by 
the State or other partners for reintroduction purposes.
    With the exception of occasional surveys and periodic management 
activities in select pine-dominated forest stands, no additional 
management would likely be conducted for migratory birds. For the 
endangered gray bat, surveys would be conducted sporadically.
Visitor Services
    All hunting, fishing, environmental education, interpretation, 
wildlife observation, and wildlife photography opportunities would 
remain the same. Canoeing and kayaking would continue to occur on the 
refuge. The concrete basin used to launch boats upstream of the refuge 
would not be replaced if damaged.
Resource Protection
    Several water resource management activities would likely continue. 
Currently, four water quality monitoring points are sampled quarterly 
(testing for heavy metals) as part of mine reclamation efforts. Testing 
would continue to occur from 2013 through 2015. In terms of protecting 
lands, the refuge would continue to explore conservation options with 
only willing landowners within acquisition boundary as funding and 
opportunities arise. These could include fee-title purchases or less-
than-fee options, such as easement purchases, management agreements, 
etc.
    Currently, there are no known cultural resources, and a 
comprehensive assessment would probably not be conducted. However, if 
sites are identified, the refuge will ensure cultural resource 
management and protection strategies are implemented.
Refuge Administration
    The refuge manager would continue to be stationed in Anniston, AL, 
with oversight duties also including Mountain Longleaf and Watercress 
Darter NWRs. A deputy manager position would likely not be filled. The 
zone officer would continue to conduct periodic law enforcement patrols 
and respond to reported incidents on the refuge.
    On an as-needed basis, work crews from Wheeler NWR and possibly 
other refuges would periodically maintain and repair roads and unpaved 
parking areas, replace culverts, and maintain boundary markers. The 
refuge would solicit the help of volunteers to assist with maintenance 
of trails and repairing benches, etc. No facilities would be built on 
or near the refuge under this alternative.
    The refuge would continue relationships with current partners to 
expand the refuge's capacity to protect and monitor biological 
resources, implement habitat improvement projects, enhance interaction 
and education of refuge visitors through on and off site events and 
encourage cooperative programs with academic institutions and 
nongovernmental organizations

Alternative B: Expand Habitat and Wildlife Management (Proposed 
Alternative)

Wildlife and Habitat Management
    The refuge would monitor the health and distribution of the Cahaba 
Lily population and work to educate the public about the fragility of 
these habitats to human disturbance. We would chemically control 
alligator weed on an annual basis.
    The refuge would re-inventory and create maps for the following 
habitats: Beech, oak, laurel and azalea forest; Cahaba riverwash 
herbaceous vegetation; canebrake; oak, beech and sedge forest; oak, 
hickory, and iris forest; oak, holly, and sparkleberry forest; and 
tuliptree and sensitive fern forest. The refuge would work to re-
establish viable canebrake communities.
    For interior longleaf pine woodland; loblolly pine plantation; and 
longleaf

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pine plantation we would designate stand conditions for restoration 
purposes and reestablish a recurring fire regime. Surveys would be 
conducted to determine if glades habitat exists with the refuge 
boundary. The refuge would implement control measures and monitoring of 
invasive plant species (Chinese Privet, Alligator Weed, Kudzu, Mimosa, 
etc.) as appropriate.
    For Georgia aster, we would work with partners to conduct 
additional surveys and create a GIS database to map Georgia aster 
distribution. We would work with partners to continue surveys for 
Georgia rockcress and implement management strategies (including timber 
management and invasive species removal) to increase population size 
and the number of locations.
    The refuge would develop an educational program and evaluate 
overutilization of recreational use on the refuge and restore stream 
habitat that potentially impacts federally-listed mussels, snails, and 
fish. We would also work with partners to identify and provide access 
for reintroductions of these species.
    For neotropical migratory birds, we would resume biotic inventories 
utilizing refuge staff, local universities and partners. Habitats would 
be restored for focal species where appropriate. In addition, use of 
prescribed fire would be utilized to improve conditions for focal 
species that are dependent upon pine-dominated habitats.
    The refuge would inventory and monitor for gray bats, bald eagles, 
and other surrogate species.
Visitor Services
    Opportunities for wildlife observation, wildlife photography, 
environmental education, and interpretation would be expanded. The 
refuge would maintain bicycle riding opportunities and the current 
launch site for canoeing and kayaking.
Resource Protection
    The refuge would participate as stakeholder on regional water 
quality improvement efforts within the upper Cahaba Basin; work to 
improve water quality of refuge tributary streams through partnerships 
with adjacent land owners; and establish cooperative programs and 
partnerships with the University of Alabama for lands along the western 
refuge boundary. The refuge would also install a stream gage within the 
refuge boundary. Testing would continue to occur on four water quality 
monitoring points as part of mine reclamation efforts.
    We would work with partners to identify and provide assistance to 
landowners to conserve priority lands within the Cahaba River watershed 
by providing long term protection of valued resources within the 
watershed. The refuge would work with the regional archaeologist to 
complete a comprehensive historical and archaeological resource survey.
Refuge Administration
    Seven additional complex staff would be needed to carry out the 
proposed projects. These positions include: An assistant refuge 
manager, biologist, equipment operator, park ranger, forester, law 
enforcement officer and biological technician.
    The refuge would improve River Trace Road (e.g. install low water 
crossings and culverts, improve road surface, etc.), protect the River 
Trace Road from erosion (undercutting by river), and improve Belcher 
Road through regular maintenance.
    No facilities would be built on or near the refuge however, a new 
complex office and maintenance shop would be constructed in Anniston, 
AL.
    The refuge would train volunteers to conduct interpretive programs 
(emphasizing the need for wildlife and habitat and wildlife management) 
and implement projects (interpretive signs, invasive species control, 
biological monitoring, etc.). The volunteer program would be expanded 
to include an Americorp team.

Alternative C: Emphasize Natural and Primitive Processes

Wildlife and Habitat Management
    Management of riverine and Cahaba lily/water willow shoals habitats 
would remain the same as Alternative A. For Beaver Pond, we would 
evaluate feasibility for restoring its natural hydrology.
    There would be no change in management for the following habitats: 
Beech, oak, laurel and azalea forest; Cahaba riverwash herbaceous 
vegetation; canebrake; oak, beech and sedge forest; oak, hickory, and 
iris forest; oak, holly, and sparkleberry forest; and tuliptree and 
sensitive fern forest. We would replace planted loblolly pine 
plantation stands, with longleaf pine, on an opportunistic basis. For 
interior longleaf pine woodland and longleaf pine plantation, we would 
use prescribed fire only to minimize threat of wildfire. There would be 
no surveys conducted for glades and no active management for Georgia 
aster.
    Management for federally listed aquatic species, neotropical 
migratory birds, gray bat, bald eagle, and other surrogate species 
would be the same as under Alternative B.
Visitor Services
    River Trace Road would be closed to motor vehicles and converted to 
a trail. We would work with partners to develop and present educational 
programs that emphasize the role of natural ecological processes in 
shaping wildlife habitats.
    We would develop interpretive materials and messages that emphasize 
the role of natural and primitive processes in shaping wildlife 
habitats. We would remove the concrete basin that is used to launch 
canoes and kayaks.
Resource Protection
    For water quality, management would be similar to Alternative B, 
but we would also ensure that mine tailings do not contaminate 
groundwater through removal or other means. We would restore the 
natural hydrology on the refuge in areas where there is the greatest 
need.
    Land protection efforts would focus on tracts within the 
acquisition boundary based on their potential role in creating a more 
connected and functional ecosystem.
Refuge Administration
    Under this alternative, the following three additional staff would 
be required: Biologist, biological technician, and equipment operator.
    We would evaluate which road-side ditches and culverts would need 
to be altered to restore the former hydrology and reduce sedimentation. 
No facilities would be leased, acquired, or built under this 
alternative.
Volunteers and Other Partnerships
    We would offer our volunteers training to conduct interpretive 
programs that emphasize the role of natural and primitive processes in 
shaping wildlife habitat.

Next Step

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

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

[[Page 63583]]

information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

Authority

    This notice is published under the authority of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et 
seq.).

    Dated: October 14, 2015.
Richard P. Ingram,
Acting Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System.
[FR Doc. 2015-26614 Filed 10-19-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P