Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
With this notice, we continue the CCP process for Sheldon Refuge. We started this process through a notice published in the
The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Refuge Administration Act), as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, requires us to develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose for developing a CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year plan for achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System, consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife management, conservation, legal mandates, and our policies. In addition to outlining broad management direction on conserving wildlife and their habitats, CCPs identify wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, including opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with the Refuge Administration Act.
Habitat management activities proposed in the Draft CCP/EIS include improving the conditions of wetland, riparian, desert grassland, and shrub-steppe habitats, with emphasis on removing feral animals, reducing invasive species, reducing encroachment of western juniper, and where feasible, restoring fire to improve habitat diversity and plant community succession.
Public-use management actions proposed in the Draft CCP/EIS include expanding and improving trails, signs, campgrounds, and visitor contact facilities for wildlife observation and photography, sport fishing, and hunting; continuing fishing and hunting coordination with the States; improving information available to all visitors; formally designating authorized motorized vehicle routes; and reducing illegal activities.
Sheldon Refuge encompasses approximately 575,000 acres primarily in northwestern Nevada, but includes a small portion within south-central Oregon. Originally established to protect and conserve the American pronghorn, the Refuge provides important habitat for a variety of wildlife, including greater sage-grouse, pygmy rabbit, American pika, mule deer, California bighorn sheep, Sheldon tui chub, and a variety of migratory birds, including shorebirds, raptors, and passerines. Habitat types found on the Refuge are primarily shrub-steppe uplands, but also include important springs and spring brooks, basalt cliffs and canyons; emergent marshes; juniper, mountain mahogany, and aspen woodlands; and desert greasewood flats.
The purpose of the CCP is to fulfill the purposes for which the Refuge was established and to provide reasonable, scientifically-grounded guidance for improving the Refuge's shrub-steppe, riparian, wetland, and cliff-talus habitats for the long-term conservation of native plants and animals, endemic fish, and migratory birds while providing high-quality public-use programs for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, and environmental education and interpretation. The Draft CCP/EIS
The Service identified and evaluated three alternatives for managing the Sheldon Refuge for the next 15 years, including a No Action Alternative (Alternative 1). Brief descriptions of the alternatives follow.
Wildland fire suppression and mechanical cutting and thinning of encroaching juniper would continue, in order to maintain sagebrush habitats in a late stage of plant community succession and avoid potential widespread growth of invasive annual grasses. Prescribed burning would continue to be used to maintain wet meadow and grassland habitats in an early to mid stage of plant community succession.
Public uses such as wildlife observation, photography, hunting, and fishing would continue through the maintenance of existing facilities, which include ponds, reservoirs, fishing docks, primary roads, and 13 campgrounds in primitive, semi-primitive, and developed conditions. Stocking fish in Refuge reservoirs would continue, and the limited collection of rocks and minerals would be allowed to continue. Under Alternative 1, we would not change the current proposal for lands designated as wilderness. The Refuge would officially designate roads and routes necessary for wildlife-dependent public uses throughout Sheldon Refuge, consistent with existing Executive orders, Federal regulations, and Service policies, where such uses would be compatible with Refuge purposes.
Wildlife-dependent public uses would also be emphasized, with opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, interpretation, and environmental education maintained or improved from present conditions. Recreation opportunities for limited collection of rock and mineral specimens would be allowed to continue, with added emphasis on visitor information related to relevant laws, regulations, and interpretation of the area's geology. The State of Nevada fish stocking program would continue, limiting stocked fish species to those naturally occurring within the local area.
Under Alternative 2, we would recommend wilderness designation for approximately the same number of acres in the current proposal, but the location and distribution of the areas recommended would differ. Contingent upon approval of the wilderness recommendation, we would open some designated primitive routes for motorized vehicle use under Alternative 2. Several segments of existing and proposed routes would be realigned to reduce erosion and other impacts to riparian habitats.
Alternative 2 is the Service's preferred alternative because it is expected to result in the greatest improvement of habitat conditions for native fish, wildlife, and plants on the Refuge. It also achieves the purposes for which the Refuge was established.
Public-use opportunities for wildlife observation, photography, hunting, and fishing would be available at most current sites, except fish stocking would be discontinued at one of the two reservoirs currently stocked within the Refuge. Campgrounds would be consolidated to establish larger individual campgrounds with better amenities. Under Alternative 3, we would propose the least number of acres for designation as wilderness, compared to the other alternatives. Contingent upon this proposal, Alternative 3, we would open some designated primitive routes to motorized vehicle use that would not require intensive restoration or management to minimize adverse impacts.
In addition to methods in
• Our Web site:
• Lake County Public Library, 513 Center St., Lakeview, OR.
• Humboldt County Public Library, 85 East Fifth St., Winnemucca, NV.
• Washoe County Public Library, 301 South Center St., Reno, NV.
Public comments are requested, considered, and incorporated throughout the planning process; please see
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