Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
With this notice, we continue the CCP process at Bear Lake NWR and Oxford Slough WPA. We started this process through a notice in the
Bear Lake NWR was established in 1968 and is located in Bear Lake County, near the community of Montpelier, in southeast Idaho. The Refuge lies in Bear Lake Valley at approximately 5,925 feet in elevation in the historic location of Dingle Swamp. The Thomas Fork Unit is a 1,015-acre tract of land managed by the Refuge and situated at an elevation of 6,060 feet, approximately 20 miles east of Montpelier, Idaho, along U.S. Hwy. 30, near Border, Wyoming. The Unit's eastern boundary is the Wyoming State line. It contains upland and wet meadows used by sandhill cranes, and stream habitat important to the conservation of Bonneville cutthroat trout.
The Refuge is composed of a 16,000-acre emergent marsh, 1,200 acres of uplands, 550 acres of wet meadows, and 5 miles of riparian streams. Approximately 100 species of migratory birds nest at Bear Lake NWR, including large concentrations of colonial waterbirds, and many other species of wildlife utilize the Refuge during various periods of the year. In the early 1900s, the Telluride Canal Company substantially modified the natural hydrology of the former Dingle Swamp by diverting Bear River to flow into Bear Lake for irrigation storage. The indirect effects were numerous and significantly altered the hydrology and ecological processes of the Bear Lake Watershed.
Oxford Slough is the only waterfowl production area in the Service's Pacific Northwest region. It is located 10 miles north of Preston, Idaho, abutting the small town of Oxford in the Cache Valley. Oxford Slough is the drainage for Oxford and Deep Creeks, as well as other streams and creeks in the surrounding mountain ranges. Oxford Slough WPA provides valuable foraging habitat for species such as cranes, geese,
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 (NWRS), consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife management, conservation, legal mandates, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, and our policies. In addition to outlining broad management direction on conserving wildlife and their habitats, CCPs identify compatible 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.
We began public outreach in June 2010 by publishing a Notice of Intent in the
During the public scoping process, we, along with other governmental agencies, Tribes, and the public, raised several issues which our Draft CCP/EA addresses. To address these issues, we developed and evaluated the following alternatives, summarized below:
This alternative represents current management.
The Refuge's meadows and uplands would be cooperatively hayed and farmed to provide forage and short-grass habitat for migratory birds such as the sandhill crane and Canada goose. Farming would occur on approximately 214 acres annually at Bear Lake, Thomas Fork, and Oxford Slough WPA. Approximately 3,500 acres of wet meadow, upland meadow, and shallow emergent habitat (including about 90 percent of meadow habitat at Bear Lake NWR) would be hayed annually to provide green browse for migratory birds and other wildlife.
Within 5 years of CCP completion, plans for a combined Refuge office and visitor contact station on or near the Refuge would be completed, and funding would be sought to construct these facilities. Up to eight vehicle turnouts with interpretive panels would be constructed along Merkley Lake
Opportunities for observation and education would improve as additional facilities are developed, and a more diverse array of wetland habitats allows a wider variety of waterbirds and other species to flourish. Two turn-out parking areas (one with an observation platform and spotting scope) would be constructed along Merkley Lake Road, above the Mud Lake Unit. As in Alternative 2, a boardwalk and viewing platform would be constructed on the southeast border of the Refuge along North Beach Road; plans for a combined Refuge office and visitor contact station on or near the Refuge would be completed within 5 years of CCP completion, and funding would be sought to construct these facilities; a new staff position would be dedicated to public outreach, and developing and delivering on-site interpretive and environmental education programs to local schools and community groups.
In addition to the information in
After this comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and address them in a final CCP and decision document.
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 identifying information from the public, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.