Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge; Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, 91185-91187 [2016-30420]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 242 / Friday, December 16, 2016 / Notices CBPL No. 27–03 27–04 27–05 27–06 27–08 27–11 ........... ........... ........... ........... ........... ........... ASTM D D D D D D 4006 95 4928 473 86 445 27–13 ........... D 4294 27–46 27–48 27–50 27–53 27–54 27–58 D D D D D D ........... ........... ........... ........... ........... ........... 5002 4052 93 2709 1796 5191 Title Standard Test Method for Water in Crude Oil by Distillation. Standard Test Method for Water in Petroleum Products and Bituminous Materials by Distillation. Standard Test Method for Water in Crude Oils by Coulometric Karl Fischer Titration. Standard Test Method for Sediment in Crude Oils and Fuel Oils by the Extraction Method. Standard Test Method for Distillation of Petroleum Products at Atmospheric Pressure. Standard Test Method for Kinematic Viscosity of Transparent and Opaque Liquids (and Calculation of Dynamic Viscosity). Standard Test Method for Sulfur in Petroleum and Petroleum Products by Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry. Standard Test Method for Density and Relative Density of Crude Oils by Digital Density Analyzer. Standard Test Method for Density and Relative Density of Liquids by Digital Density Meter. Standard Test Methods for Flash Point by Pensky-Martens Closed Cup Tester. Standard Test Method for Water and Sediment in Middle Distillate Fuels by Centrifuge. Standard Test Method for Water and Sediment in Fuel Oils by the Centrifuge Method (Laboratory Procedure). Standard Test Method For Vapor Pressure of Petroleum Products (Mini Method). Anyone wishing to employ this entity to conduct laboratory analyses and gauger services should request and receive written assurances from the entity that it is accredited or approved by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to conduct the specific test or gauger service requested. Alternatively, inquiries regarding the specific test or gauger service this entity is accredited or approved to perform may be directed to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection by calling (202) 344–1060. The inquiry may also be sent to CBPGaugersLabs@cbp.dhs.gov. Please reference the Web site listed below for a complete listing of CBP approved gaugers and accredited laboratories. http://www.cbp.gov/about/labsscientific/commercial-gaugers-andlaboratories. Dated: December 5, 2016. Ira S. Reese, Executive Director, Laboratories and Scientific Services Directorate. 20410; telephone (202) 402–3970; TTY number for the hearing- and speechimpaired (202) 708–2565 (these telephone numbers are not toll-free), call the toll-free Title V information line at 800–927–7588 or send an email to title5@hud.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In accordance with the December 12, 1988 court order in National Coalition for the Homeless v. Veterans Administration, No. 88–2503–OG (D.D.C.), HUD publishes a Notice, on a weekly basis, identifying unutilized, underutilized, excess and surplus Federal buildings and real property that HUD has reviewed for suitability for use to assist the homeless. Today’s Notice is for the purpose of announcing that no additional properties have been determined suitable or unsuitable this week. [FR Doc. 2016–30297 Filed 12–15–16; 8:45 am] Dated: December 8, 2016. Brian P. Fitzmaurice, Director, Division of Community Assistance, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs. BILLING CODE 9111–14–P [FR Doc. 2016–29821 Filed 12–15–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210–67–P DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR [Docket No. FR–5907–N–51] Fish and Wildlife Service Federal Property Suitable as Facilities To Assist the Homeless Office of the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development, HUD. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: This Notice identifies unutilized, underutilized, excess, and surplus Federal property reviewed by HUD for suitability for possible use to assist the homeless. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Juanita Perry, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 Seventh Street SW., Room 7266, Washington, DC mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Dec 15, 2016 91185 Jkt 241001 [FWS–R5–R–2016–N207; BAC–4333–99] Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge; Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; final comprehensive conservation plan and environmental impact statement. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability for review of our final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 and environmental impact statement (EIS) for Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge (Conte NFWR). The CCP/EIS describes how we propose to manage the refuge for the next 15 years. DATES: The Service’s decision on issuance of an the final CCP/EIS will occur no sooner than 30 days after the publication of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) notice of the final EIS in the Federal Register and will be documented in a Service Record of Decision (ROD). ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the final CCP/EIS by any of the following methods. You may also request a copy on CD–ROM and limited hard copies will be available. Agency Web site: Download a copy of the document at https://www.fws.gov/ refuge/Silvio_O_Conte/what_we_do/ conservation.html. Email: Send requests to northeastplanning@fws.gov, and include ‘‘Conte NFWR CCP’’ in the subject line of your email. U.S. Mail: Nancy McGarigal, Refuge Planner, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035. Fax: Attention: Nancy McGarigal, 413–253–8468. To view comments on the final CCP/ EIS from the EPA, or for information on EPA’s role in the EIS process, see EPA’s Role in the EIS Process under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew French, Refuge Manager, 413– 548–9725 (phone); andrew_french@ fws.gov (email). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Introduction With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Conte NFWR, which we began by publishing a notice of intent in the Federal Register (71 FR 62006) on October 20, 2006. For more about the initial process and the history of this refuge, please see that notice. On August E:\FR\FM\16DEN1.SGM 16DEN1 91186 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 242 / Friday, December 16, 2016 / Notices mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES 18, 2015, we announced the release of the draft CCP/EIS to the public and requested comments in a notice of availability in the Federal Register (80 FR 50023). In addition, EPA published a notice in the Federal Register (80 FR 52273) announcing the draft CCP/EIS on August 28, 2015, as required under section 309 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.). We now announce the final CCP/EIS. Under the CAA, EPA also will announce the final CCP/EIS via the Federal Register. EPA’s Role in the EIS Process The EPA is charged under section 309 of the CAA with reviewing all Federal agencies’ EISs and commenting on the adequacy and the acceptability of the environmental impacts of proposed actions in the EISs. EPA also serves as the repository (EIS database) for EISs prepared by Federal agencies and provides notice of their availability in the Federal Register. The EIS database provides information about EISs prepared by Federal agencies, as well as EPA’s comments concerning the EISs. All EISs are filed with EPA, which publishes a notice of availability on Fridays in the Federal Register. A notice of availability is published at the start of the 45-day public comment period for draft EISs, as well as at the start of the 30-day ‘‘wait period’’ for final EISs. With final EISs, agencies are generally required to wait 30 days before making a decision on a proposed action. For more information, see http:// www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/ eisdata.html. You may search for EPA comments on EISs, along with EISs themselves, at https:// cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-public/ action/eis/search. This notice announces the availability of the final CCP/EIS for Conte NFWR in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6(b)). The final CCP/EIS includes a detailed description of the four management alternatives we considered to guide us in managing and administering the refuge for the next 15 years. That document also contains a thorough analysis of impacts predicted from implementing each of the alternatives on the surrounding natural and human environments. We propose that alternative C, the Service-preferred alternative, serve as the foundation for the final, stand-alone CCP. We highlight the modifications we made to alternative C between the draft and final CCP/EIS in Comments, below. Our next planning step is to complete a record of decision no sooner than 30 days after publication of this notice (40 CFR 1506.10(b)(2)). VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Dec 15, 2016 Jkt 241001 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 and the public with a 15-year plan for achieving refuge purposes and goals and contributing to the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). CCPs should be consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife management, conservation, legal mandates, and our policies, as well as respond to key issues and public concerns. In addition to outlining broad management direction on conserving wildlife and their habitats, CCPs identify wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, including opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update the CCP at least every 15 years, in accordance with the Refuge Administration Act. Silvio O. Conte NFWR Conte NFWR was established in 1997 to conserve, protect, and enhance the abundance and diversity of native plant, fish, and wildlife species, and the ecosystems on which they depend throughout the 7.2-million-acre Connecticut River watershed (watershed). Currently, the refuge is comprised of 37,000 acres within parts of the four watershed states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. CCP Alternatives During the scoping phase of the planning process, we identified a variety of major issues based on input from the public, State or Federal agencies, other Service programs, and our planning team. We developed refuge management alternatives and strategies to address these issues; help achieve refuge goals, objectives, and purposes; support our partners’ conservation efforts, and support the NWRS mission. Our draft CCP/EIS (80 FR 50023) and final CCP/EIS fully analyze four alternatives for the future management of the refuge: (1) Alternative A, Current Management; (2) Alternative B, Consolidated Stewardship; (3) Alternative C, Enhanced Conservation Connections and Partnerships (Servicepreferred Alternative); and (4) Alternative D, Conservation PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Connections Emphasizing Natural Processes. Alternative A satisfies the NEPA requirement of a ‘‘No Action’’ alternative. Both the draft and final plans identify alternative C as the Service-preferred alternative, although Alternative C has been slightly modified in the final plan in response to public comments, as discussed below. Please refer to the final CCP/EIS for more details on each of the alternatives. Comments We solicited comments on the draft CCP/EIS for Conte NFWR from August 18 to November 16, 2015 (80 FR 50023). During this comment period, we held 14 public information meetings in towns across the Connecticut River watershed and four public hearings; one in each of the four states in the watershed. Overall, we received 363 separate written responses and collected 73 oral comments at the public hearings. We also received a petition to ban trapping at the refuge’s Nulhegan Basin Division, signed by approximately 2,546 individuals. We evaluated all of the substantive comments we received, and include a summary of those comments, and our responses to them, as appendix O in the final CCP/EIS. Changes to the Alternative C, the Service’s Preferred Alternative After considering the comments we received on our draft CCP/EIS, we have made several modifications to alternative C, including adding or revising several management strategies. Below we present a brief overview of these changes; a full description of the changes is included in appendix O in the final CCP/EIS. • Conservation Partnership Areas (CPAs)—We added two CPAs, increased the size of five CPAs, and reduced the size of one CPA. • Conservation Focus Areas (CFAs)— We updated maps to reflect new refuge acquisitions and an updated conserved lands base, and to incorporate core areas identified in the Connect the Connecticut landscape conservation design. We increased the size of one CFA. Combined total acreage in CFAs increased by 41 acres. • Land Acquisition Process—We refined our proposal to pursue acquisition of 90 percent of target acreage in CFAs, on average, and 10 percent of target acreage in surrounding CPAs. The total acquisition authority we are seeking (197,337 acres) increased by the 41 acres noted above. • Public Uses—We emphasize our intent to continue to allow priority public uses on newly acquired lands wherever compatible. We withdrew our E:\FR\FM\16DEN1.SGM 16DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 242 / Friday, December 16, 2016 / Notices proposal to eliminate one section of snowmobile trail on Nulhegan Basin Division. We determined that recreational drone use is not appropriate. • Habitat Management—We emphasize our intent to develop refuge division-specific habitat management plans with state agency and public involvement. Alternative C, with these changes, is still our preferred alternative in the final CCP/EIS for Conte NFWR for several reasons. First, alternative C comprises a mix of actions that, in our professional judgment, work best towards achieving the refuge’s purposes, vision, and goals, NWRS policies, and the goals of other state and regional conservation plans. Second, we also believe that alternative C most effectively addresses key issues raised during the planning process. Public Availability of Documents See ADDRESSES, above. Next Steps We will document the final decision in a record of decision, which will be published in the Federal Register after the 30-day ‘‘wait period’’ that begins when EPA announces this final CCP/ EIS. For more information, see EPA’s Role in the EIS Process. Dated: December 1, 2016. Deborah Rocque, Deputy Regional Director, Northeast Region. [FR Doc. 2016–30420 Filed 12–15–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLWY920000.L51010000.ER0000. LVRWK09K1000.15X; WYW174597; COC72909; UTU87237] Notice of Availability of the Record of Decision for the Energy Gateway South Transmission Project and Approved Land Use Plan Amendments in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announces the availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Energy Gateway South Transmission Project (Project) and approved land use plan amendments of the Rawlins, Little Snake, Pony Express, Price, and Vernal Resource Management Plans (RMPs). The ROD constitutes the BLM’s final decision regarding: granting a right-of-way to PacifiCorp (doing mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Dec 15, 2016 Jkt 241001 business as Rocky Mountain Power) to construct and operate an extra-high voltage alternating-current transmission system; and amending certain BLM land use plans. The decisions are effective immediately. ADDRESSES: The complete text of the ROD along with the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and supporting documents are available for public viewing on the BLM Web site: http://bit.ly/2eErxWA. Copies of the ROD text will be placed in all involved BLM offices for public viewing as well as at public libraries in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. For a list of these libraries, please see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tamara Gertsch, National Project Manager, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming State Office, P.O. Box 21150, Cheyenne, WY 82003; by telephone at (307) 775–6115; or email to GatewaySouth_WYMail@blm.gov. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at (800) 877–8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Copies of the ROD text are available at the following public libraries: • Carbon County Library, Rawlins, WY; • Carbon County Library-Little Snake River Branch, Baggs, WY; • Moffat County Library, Craig, CO; • Rangely Regional Library District, Rangely, CO; • Mesa County Library, Grand Junction, CO; • Grand County Public Library, Moab, UT; • Uintah County Library, Vernal, UT; • Duchesne County Library, Duchesne, UT; • Emery County Library, Castle Dale, UT; and • Nephi Public Library, Nephi, UT. PacifiCorp (doing business as Rocky Mountain Power), a regulated public utility, filed an application for a rightof-way to construct, operate and maintain a 500-kilovolt (kV) overhead, alternating current transmission line across public and private lands for the Project on November 28, 2007. Pacificorp amended the application on December 17, 2008; October 11, 2010; January 15, 2013; and April 8, 2015. When completed, the Project will transmit about 1,500 megawatts of PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 91187 electricity generated from renewable sources at planned facilities in Wyoming, as well as from existing thermal sources. The Project will begin in south central Wyoming near Medicine Bow, at the permitted Aeolus Substation, and traverses from northeast to southwest across northwestern Colorado to the existing Clover Substation near Mona, Utah, a distance of approximately 416 miles. The facilities will include: • Construction of a single-circuit, alternating current 500kV overhead transmission line (including associated structures, shield wires, conductors, and insulators) between the Aeolus Substation and Clover Substation; • Construction of two series compensation stations, at points between the Aeolus and Clover substations, to improve the transport capacity and efficiency of the transmission line; • Construction of communication regeneration stations associated with the transmission line (approximately every 55 miles); • Rebuilding of two existing 345kV transmission lines between the Clover and Mona Substations (in the existing rights-of-way); • Rerouting of the Mona to Huntington 345kV transmission line through the Clover Substation; and • Relocation of an approximate 2mile portion of an existing line (Bears Ears to Bonanza 345kV transmission line) to eliminate multiple line crossings in a short distance and avoid the BLM Raven Ridge Area of Critical Environmental Concern. The Selected Alternative is the Agency Preferred Alternative identified in the Final EIS. The EIS has been developed in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and plans, and discloses the impacts of the Project. The Selected Alternative was identified as the route that best meets the BLM’s purpose and need, and the Applicant’s objectives, and that avoids and minimizes minimized impacts to sensitive resources to the extent possible. The ROD addresses the mitigation and monitoring requirements applicable to the Project, including identifying and requiring compensatory mitigation where impacts to sensitive resources cannot be avoided, as further described in the ROD and its appendices. Based on the analysis in the Final EIS, the ROD also amends five BLM RMPs, as follows: • Rawlins RMP (Wyoming)—modifies 21 acres of visual resource management (VRM) Class III to Class IV; E:\FR\FM\16DEN1.SGM 16DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 242 (Friday, December 16, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 91185-91187]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-30420]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-R-2016-N207; BAC-4333-99]


Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge; Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; final comprehensive conservation plan 
and environmental impact statement.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability for review of our final comprehensive conservation plan 
(CCP) and environmental impact statement (EIS) for Silvio O. Conte 
National Fish and Wildlife Refuge (Conte NFWR). The CCP/EIS describes 
how we propose to manage the refuge for the next 15 years.

DATES: The Service's decision on issuance of an the final CCP/EIS will 
occur no sooner than 30 days after the publication of the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) notice of the final EIS in the 
Federal Register and will be documented in a Service Record of Decision 
(ROD).

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the final CCP/EIS by any of 
the following methods. You may also request a copy on CD-ROM and 
limited hard copies will be available.
    Agency Web site: Download a copy of the document at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Silvio_O_Conte/what_we_do/conservation.html.
    Email: Send requests to northeastplanning@fws.gov, and include 
``Conte NFWR CCP'' in the subject line of your email.
    U.S. Mail: Nancy McGarigal, Refuge Planner, 300 Westgate Center 
Drive, Hadley, MA 01035.
    Fax: Attention: Nancy McGarigal, 413-253-8468.
    To view comments on the final CCP/EIS from the EPA, or for 
information on EPA's role in the EIS process, see EPA's Role in the EIS 
Process under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew French, Refuge Manager, 413-
548-9725 (phone); andrew_french@fws.gov (email).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Introduction

    With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Conte NFWR, which 
we began by publishing a notice of intent in the Federal Register (71 
FR 62006) on October 20, 2006. For more about the initial process and 
the history of this refuge, please see that notice. On August

[[Page 91186]]

18, 2015, we announced the release of the draft CCP/EIS to the public 
and requested comments in a notice of availability in the Federal 
Register (80 FR 50023). In addition, EPA published a notice in the 
Federal Register (80 FR 52273) announcing the draft CCP/EIS on August 
28, 2015, as required under section 309 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) (42 
U.S.C. 7401 et seq.). We now announce the final CCP/EIS. Under the CAA, 
EPA also will announce the final CCP/EIS via the Federal Register.

EPA's Role in the EIS Process

    The EPA is charged under section 309 of the CAA with reviewing all 
Federal agencies' EISs and commenting on the adequacy and the 
acceptability of the environmental impacts of proposed actions in the 
EISs.
    EPA also serves as the repository (EIS database) for EISs prepared 
by Federal agencies and provides notice of their availability in the 
Federal Register. The EIS database provides information about EISs 
prepared by Federal agencies, as well as EPA's comments concerning the 
EISs. All EISs are filed with EPA, which publishes a notice of 
availability on Fridays in the Federal Register.
    A notice of availability is published at the start of the 45-day 
public comment period for draft EISs, as well as at the start of the 
30-day ``wait period'' for final EISs. With final EISs, agencies are 
generally required to wait 30 days before making a decision on a 
proposed action. For more information, see http://www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/eisdata.html. You may search for EPA comments on EISs, 
along with EISs themselves, at https://cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-public/action/eis/search.
    This notice announces the availability of the final CCP/EIS for 
Conte NFWR in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6(b)). The final CCP/EIS includes a detailed 
description of the four management alternatives we considered to guide 
us in managing and administering the refuge for the next 15 years. That 
document also contains a thorough analysis of impacts predicted from 
implementing each of the alternatives on the surrounding natural and 
human environments. We propose that alternative C, the Service-
preferred alternative, serve as the foundation for the final, stand-
alone CCP. We highlight the modifications we made to alternative C 
between the draft and final CCP/EIS in Comments, below.
    Our next planning step is to complete a record of decision no 
sooner than 30 days after publication of this notice (40 CFR 
1506.10(b)(2)).

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 and the public with a 
15-year plan for achieving refuge purposes and goals and contributing 
to the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). CCPs 
should be consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife 
management, conservation, legal mandates, and our policies, as well as 
respond to key issues and public concerns. In addition to outlining 
broad management direction on conserving wildlife and their habitats, 
CCPs identify wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available 
to the public, including opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife 
observation and photography, and environmental education and 
interpretation. We will review and update the CCP at least every 15 
years, in accordance with the Refuge Administration Act.

Silvio O. Conte NFWR

    Conte NFWR was established in 1997 to conserve, protect, and 
enhance the abundance and diversity of native plant, fish, and wildlife 
species, and the ecosystems on which they depend throughout the 7.2-
million-acre Connecticut River watershed (watershed). Currently, the 
refuge is comprised of 37,000 acres within parts of the four watershed 
states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

CCP Alternatives

    During the scoping phase of the planning process, we identified a 
variety of major issues based on input from the public, State or 
Federal agencies, other Service programs, and our planning team. We 
developed refuge management alternatives and strategies to address 
these issues; help achieve refuge goals, objectives, and purposes; 
support our partners' conservation efforts, and support the NWRS 
mission. Our draft CCP/EIS (80 FR 50023) and final CCP/EIS fully 
analyze four alternatives for the future management of the refuge: (1) 
Alternative A, Current Management; (2) Alternative B, Consolidated 
Stewardship; (3) Alternative C, Enhanced Conservation Connections and 
Partnerships (Service-preferred Alternative); and (4) Alternative D, 
Conservation Connections Emphasizing Natural Processes. Alternative A 
satisfies the NEPA requirement of a ``No Action'' alternative. Both the 
draft and final plans identify alternative C as the Service-preferred 
alternative, although Alternative C has been slightly modified in the 
final plan in response to public comments, as discussed below. Please 
refer to the final CCP/EIS for more details on each of the 
alternatives.

Comments

    We solicited comments on the draft CCP/EIS for Conte NFWR from 
August 18 to November 16, 2015 (80 FR 50023). During this comment 
period, we held 14 public information meetings in towns across the 
Connecticut River watershed and four public hearings; one in each of 
the four states in the watershed. Overall, we received 363 separate 
written responses and collected 73 oral comments at the public 
hearings. We also received a petition to ban trapping at the refuge's 
Nulhegan Basin Division, signed by approximately 2,546 individuals. We 
evaluated all of the substantive comments we received, and include a 
summary of those comments, and our responses to them, as appendix O in 
the final CCP/EIS.

Changes to the Alternative C, the Service's Preferred Alternative

    After considering the comments we received on our draft CCP/EIS, we 
have made several modifications to alternative C, including adding or 
revising several management strategies. Below we present a brief 
overview of these changes; a full description of the changes is 
included in appendix O in the final CCP/EIS.
     Conservation Partnership Areas (CPAs)--We added two CPAs, 
increased the size of five CPAs, and reduced the size of one CPA.
     Conservation Focus Areas (CFAs)--We updated maps to 
reflect new refuge acquisitions and an updated conserved lands base, 
and to incorporate core areas identified in the Connect the Connecticut 
landscape conservation design. We increased the size of one CFA. 
Combined total acreage in CFAs increased by 41 acres.
     Land Acquisition Process--We refined our proposal to 
pursue acquisition of 90 percent of target acreage in CFAs, on average, 
and 10 percent of target acreage in surrounding CPAs. The total 
acquisition authority we are seeking (197,337 acres) increased by the 
41 acres noted above.
     Public Uses--We emphasize our intent to continue to allow 
priority public uses on newly acquired lands wherever compatible. We 
withdrew our

[[Page 91187]]

proposal to eliminate one section of snowmobile trail on Nulhegan Basin 
Division. We determined that recreational drone use is not appropriate.
     Habitat Management--We emphasize our intent to develop 
refuge division-specific habitat management plans with state agency and 
public involvement.
    Alternative C, with these changes, is still our preferred 
alternative in the final CCP/EIS for Conte NFWR for several reasons. 
First, alternative C comprises a mix of actions that, in our 
professional judgment, work best towards achieving the refuge's 
purposes, vision, and goals, NWRS policies, and the goals of other 
state and regional conservation plans. Second, we also believe that 
alternative C most effectively addresses key issues raised during the 
planning process.

Public Availability of Documents

    See ADDRESSES, above.

Next Steps

    We will document the final decision in a record of decision, which 
will be published in the Federal Register after the 30-day ``wait 
period'' that begins when EPA announces this final CCP/EIS. For more 
information, see EPA's Role in the EIS Process.

    Dated: December 1, 2016.
Deborah Rocque,
Deputy Regional Director, Northeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2016-30420 Filed 12-15-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P