[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 91 (Wednesday, May 11, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 27344-27345]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-11410]


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 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service

[NPS-PWR-PWRO-0215-6786; 8381-1001-NZW]


Water Resources Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement, 
Mojave National Preserve, San Bernardino County, CA

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to Prepare a Water Resources Management Plan/
Environmental Impact Statement for Mojave National Preserve.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with Sec.  102(2)(C) of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Mojave National Preserve is 
initiating the conservation planning and environmental impact analysis 
process needed to inform preparation of a Water Resources Management 
Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (WRMP/EIS). This plan is intended 
to guide future management of ground and surface water sources within 
Mojave National Preserve. Through this process the National Park 
Service (NPS) will identify and assess potential impacts of a range of 
alternatives to management of water resources. As part of the EIS 
process, the NPS will evaluate different approaches for water resources 
management to determine the potential impacts on land use, water 
quality, geology, biological and cultural resources, human health and 
safety, aesthetics, visitor experience, Wilderness, and other 
stewardship considerations.
    Mojave National Preserve (Preserve) is a 1.6 million-acre unit of 
the National Park System, established by Congress on October 31, 1994, 
by the California Desert Protection Act. The Act protected

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a vast expanse of desert lands that represent a combination of Great 
Basin, Sonoran, and Mojave desert ecosystems. The Act also specified 
hunting as a permitted activity within the Preserve. By the time of 
establishment, many artificial water sources had been developed within 
the Preserve to support cattle grazing operations and game populations. 
Human manipulation of natural springs and seeps, with intermittent 
maintenance, enhanced surface flow to provide additional water for the 
same purposes. There also existed 133 small game wildlife water 
developments (also known as ``guzzlers'' or ``drinkers''), and 6 big 
game guzzlers, which intercept and store rainwater for wildlife use. 
All of the big game guzzlers and many of the small game water 
developments are in areas of the Preserve which are now designated 
Wilderness.
    Since 1998, private donors have purchased and retired approximately 
1,260,980 acres of grazing land in the Preserve. As cattle have been 
removed, watering troughs, windmills, and pipelines were also removed 
or fell into disrepair. This has led to calls by some hunting 
proponents to convert abandoned wells to game guzzlers. Conversely, 
wildlife advocates have cited guzzler-related injuries to bighorn 
sheep, protected desert tortoises, and other wildlife species as a 
rationale for reducing the number of water developments.
    Since 1994, the NPS has managed water sources in the Preserve on a 
case-by-case basis, while conducting inventories and studies to develop 
the information needed for an ecosystem-scale management approach. The 
Preserve's general management plan (GMP) identified the need to develop 
a comprehensive ecosystem-scale Water Resources Management Plan for 
springs, seeps, water diversions, and artificial water sources to 
maintain healthy wildlife communities and groundwater flow conditions 
at safe yields--this conservation planning effort seeks to fulfill that 
objective. Desired future condition goals will be developed through 
public engagement with hunting groups, environmental organizations, 
park visitors, local, state and Federal agencies, and other interested 
parties, in keeping with existing laws, regulations, and NPS management 
policies.
    Surface water availability in the form of springs and seeps is a 
function of groundwater flow and discharge. The relationship between 
groundwater, surface water, and wells is complex. Preserve stewardship 
and resource management activities must be guided by general principles 
that can be applied to specific problems. Developing and clearly 
explaining how these principles should be applied is a goal of the 
Draft WRMP/EIS. The relationship between surface water availability and 
wildlife populations is also multifaceted, and may be complicated by 
the potential effects of climate change. The Draft WRMP/EIS will 
provide the basis for preserving wildlife and preventing resource 
impairment.

DATES: To facilitate sound planning and consideration of environmental 
resources, the NPS intends to gather information necessary for 
preparing the Draft WRMP/EIS and to obtain suggestions from the public 
on issues and concerns which should be addressed. The NPS is seeking 
pertinent environmental information regarding scope of the analysis, 
and suggestions regarding preliminary alternatives which should be 
considered. All comments must be postmarked or transmitted not later 
than July 11, 2011. Full public participation by park stakeholders, 
concerned organizations and private citizens, as well as Federal, 
State, and local agencies, is invited so as to fully inform the process 
of preparing the Draft WRMP/EIS. Four public meetings will be hosted 
during the scoping period: June 27 (Henderson, NV), June 28 (Needles, 
CA), June 29 (San Bernardino, CA), and June 30 (Barstow, CA). Confirmed 
details on time and location will be announced in the local press and 
on the park Web site (http://www.nps.gov/moja); details may also be 
obtained by contacting the Preserve directly. These meetings will 
provide current information and respond to questions and comments on 
issues and alternatives to assist NPS in developing the Draft WRMP/EIS.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Periodically updated information will be 
available on the project Web site at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/mojave_water. You may request to be added to the project mailing list 
by mailing, e-mailing, or faxing your request to: Superintendent, 
Mojave National Preserve, Attn: Mojave WRMP, 2701 Barstow Road, 
Barstow, California 92311 (E-mail: [email protected] and 
Fax: (760) 252-6171). Please note in your request whether you wish to 
receive a printed or compact disk version of the Draft WRMP/EIS, or 
just wish to receive notice that the document is available for review.
    If you wish to comment during the scoping phase for the Draft WRMP/
EIS, you may use any one of several methods. To comment electronically, 
submit your comments online by visiting the project Web site http://parkplanning.nps.gov/mojave_water. If you wish to submit written 
comments (e.g., in a letter), you may send your comments via U.S. 
Postal Service (or other mail delivery service) or hand-deliver them to 
the address provided above. Oral statements and written comments will 
also be accepted during public meetings. Comments will not be accepted 
by fax, e-mail, or in any other way than those specified above. 
Comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted by an 
individual or organization on behalf of another individual or 
organization also will not be accepted.
    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.
    Decision Process: Following careful analysis of all responses 
received concerning the Draft WRMP/EIS, a final plan will be prepared 
and its availability similarly announced in the Federal Register. 
Thereafter, but not sooner than 30 days after release of the Final 
WRMP/EIS, a Record of Decision would be prepared. As a delegated EIS, 
the official responsible for final approval of the Water Resources 
Management Plan is the Regional Director, Pacific West Region. 
Subsequently the official responsible for implementation of the 
approved plan would be the Superintendent, Mojave National Preserve.

    Dated: February 10, 2011.
Patricia L. Neubacher,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific West Region.
[FR Doc. 2011-11410 Filed 5-10-11; 8:45 am]
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