Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
With this notice, we continue the CCP process for the Lake Andes NWR Complex. We started this process through a notice in the
The Lake Andes NWR Complex encompasses three distinct units: Lake Andes NWR, Lake Andes Wetland Management District (WMD), and Karl E. Mundt NWR. The Complex lies within the Plains and Prairie Potholes Region (Region) in South Dakota, which is an ecological treasure of biological importance for wildlife, particularly waterfowl and other migratory birds. This Region alone produces approximately 50 percent of the continent's waterfowl population. Hunting and wildlife observation are the two most prevalent public uses on the Complex, followed by fishing and wildlife photography.
Lake Andes NWR was authorized by Executive Order in 1936 and formally established in 1939 to preserve an important piece of shallow water and prairie habitats for waterfowl and other water birds. This 5,639-acre refuge includes Lake Andes, a 4,700-acre lake created by the last ice age. The lake's shallow waters and surrounding grasslands provide optimal feeding, resting, nesting, and brooding habitats for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and other waterbirds, and also songbirds. Water levels in the lake vary from 0 to 12 feet, depending entirely on climatic conditions and precipitation, and create a boom-and-bust fishery dependent on water quality and quantity.
The Federal Migratory Bird Conservation Fund finances the acquisition of waterfowl production areas (WPA) and conservation easements by providing the Department of Interior with monies to acquire migratory bird habitat. The 1958 amendment to the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act (16 U.S.C. 718) authorized the Small Wetlands Acquisition Program and provided for the acquisition of lands in addition to the previously authorized habitats. Receipts from the sale of Duck Stamps are used to acquire habitat under the provisions of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 715). The Lake Andes WMD was established in 1958 to manage lands purchased under these two authorities to protect wetland and grassland habitat that is critical to our nation's duck population. The District manages 18,782 acres of grassland and wetland habitats in WPAs distributed within Aurora, Bon Homme, Brule, Charles Mix, Clay, Davison, Douglas, Hanson, Hutchinson, Lincoln, Turner, Union and Yankton Counties in southeastern South Dakota. All of these WPAs are open to hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, trapping, and other forms of compatible wildlife-dependent recreation. Approximately 15,000 people visit the WPAs of the District each year to engage in these types of outdoor recreational opportunities. Additionally, the District protects nearly 80,000 acres of grassland and wetland habitats through easements that prevent habitat degradation or loss on private lands.
Karl E. Mundt NWR was established in 1974, under the legislative authority of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1534), to protect an area hugging the eastern bank of the Missouri River in Gregory County, South Dakota, and Boyd County, Nebraska, that supports nearly 300 endangered bald eagles each winter. While being the first national wildlife refuge specifically established for the conservation of bald eagles, its riparian forests, prairie, and upland habitats provide important resting, feeding, breeding, and nesting sites for a wide array of neotropical migratory birds, indigenous turkey, and white-tailed deer. Haying, grazing, prescribed burning, invasive plant control, and prairie restoration are used to maintain riparian and upland habitats. Cottonwoods and other native tree species have been planted in the past to anchor riverine banks in attempts to safeguard important bald eagle roosting sites. In order to reduce disturbance to bald eagles, this refuge is currently closed to public use, with the sole exception of occasional guided tours.
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 unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System (System). The purpose for developing a CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year plan for achieving the purposes for which their refuge and/or District was established and contributing toward the mission of the 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.
We started the CCP for the Lake Andes NWR Complex in August 2006 by inviting the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Department and six Native American tribal governments to participate in the planning process. The planning team was assembled in September, and the planning kickoff occurred in October of the same year. We developed a mailing list and sent a planning update to all the individuals and groups in that list. The planning update included basic information on the Complex, the planning process, how the public could provide comments and become involved in the planning process, and the dates, times, and places of the three public meetings we held throughout the Complex in November 2006. At that time and throughout the process, we requested public comments and considered and incorporated them in numerous ways. Comments we received cover topics such as invasive plant control on Complex lands, increased hunting and fishing
During the public scoping process with which we started work on this draft CCP, we, State of South Dakota wildlife officials, a representative of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and the public raised several issues. Our draft CCP addresses them. A full description of each alternative is in the EA. To address these issues, we developed and evaluated the following alternatives, summarized below.
Opportunity for public input will be provided at the following open house public meeting.
After the public reviews and provides comments on the draft CCP and EA, the planning team will present this document, along with a summary of all substantive public comments, to the Regional Director. The Regional Director will consider the environmental effects of each alternative, including information gathered during public review, and will select a preferred alternative for the draft CCP and EA. If the Regional Director finds that no significant impacts would occur, the Regional Director's decision will be disclosed in a finding of no significant impact included in the final CCP. If the Regional Director finds a significant impact would occur, an environmental impact statement will be prepared. If approved, the action in the preferred alternative will compose the final CCP.
All public comment information provided voluntarily by mail, by phone, or at meetings (e.g., names, addresses, letters of comment, input recorded during meetings) becomes part of the official public record. If requested under the Freedom of Information Act by a private citizen or organization, the Service may provide copies of such information.
The environmental review of this project will be conducted in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); NEPA Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508, 43 CFR part 46); other appropriate Federal laws and regulations; Executive Order 12996; the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997; and Service policies and procedures for compliance with those laws and regulations.