Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, Jones and Jasper Counties, GA

Summary:

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and associated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents for Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. We provide this notice in compliance with our CCP policy to advise other agencies, Tribes, and the public of our intentions, and to obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to consider in the planning process.

Table of Contents

Dates:

To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments by May 5, 2008. A public scoping meeting will be held on April 1, 2008. The location of the meeting will be announced in the local media.

Addresses:

Comments, questions, and requests for information should be sent to: Laura Housh, Regional Planner, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Route 2, Box 3330, Folkston, GA 31537; Telephone: 912/496-7366, Ext. 244; Fax: 912/496-3332; or electronic mail:laura_housh@fws.gov. You may find additional information concerning the refuge at the refuge's Internet site:http://www.fws.gov/piedmont.

For further information contact:

Carolyn Johnson, Assistant Refuge Manager, Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge; Telephone: 478/986-5441; or electronic mail:Carolyn_Johnson@fws.gov.

Supplementary information:

Introduction

With this notice, we initiate our process for developing a CCP for Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Jones and Jasper Counties, GA.

This notice complies with our CCP policy to (1) advise other Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and the public of our intention to conduct detailed planning on this refuge; and (2) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to consider in the environmental document and during development of the CCP.

Background

The CCP Process

The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Improvement Act), which amended the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, requires us to develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose in developing a CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year strategy for achieving refuge purposes and contributing to 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 Improvement Act.

Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System is established for specific purposes. We use these purposes as the foundation for developing and prioritizing the management goals and objectives for each refuge within the National Wildlife Refuge System mission, and to determine how the public can use each refuge. The planning process is a way for us and the public to evaluate management goals and objectives for the best possible conservation approach to this important wildlife habitat, while providing for wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities that are compatible with each refuge's establishing purposes and the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Our CCP process provides participation opportunities for Tribal, State, and local governments; agencies; organizations; and the public. At this time we encourage input in the form of issues, concerns, ideas, and suggestions for the future management of Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. Special mailings, newspaper articles, and other media outlets will be used to announce opportunities for input throughout the planning process.

We will conduct the environmental assessment in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); NEPA regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508); other appropriate Federal laws and regulations; and our policies and procedures for compliance with those laws and regulations.

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1939 as a “combination wildlife and game-management demonstration area” to demonstrate that wildlife could be restored on worn out, eroded lands. By implementing good forest management practices, the 35,000-acre refuge hosts loblolly pines on the ridges, with hardwoods found along creek bottoms and in scattered upland coves. The refuge is in central Georgia, approximately 25 miles north of Macon, and 18 miles east of Forsyth. The refuge is primarily forested and provideshabitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and associated wildlife species of concern. Prescribed burning and timber thinning are used to ensure that quality pine habitat is maintained for red-cockaded woodpeckers, neotropical migratory songbirds, and other native wildlife. Hardwood stands provide excellent habitat for neotropical migratory songbirds, turkeys, squirrels, and other woodland wildlife. Open fields, maintained by burning and mowing, provide feeding and nesting areas for many species of birds and mammals. Numerous clear-flowing creeks and beaver ponds provide wetlands for waterfowl and other wildlife.

Public Availability of Comments

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail 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 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, Public Law 105-57.

Dated: February 8, 2008. Cynthia K. Dohner,

Acting Regional Director.

References

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