Kevin Ryan, (360) 457-8451
Public invited to comment until October 30
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is initiating development of a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for Protection Island and San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) that will guide the management of the refuge for the next 15 years.
One of the first steps will be to communicate with the public to identify interests and concerns and explore alternatives for establishing Refuge goals, objectives, and strategies. Part of the planning process will involve analyzing the environmental impacts of the range of alternatives being considered in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
Established in 1982 through the efforts of local citizens, Protection Island NWR is especially important to seabirds. About 70% of Puget Sound's breeding seabird population nests on the Island. Located near the mouth of Discovery Bay on the southeast side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the 316-acre Refuge consists of grassland, shrubland, small woodlands and along the shoreline, glacial-till sandy bluffs supporting one of the world's largest colonies of rhinoceros auklets, a small seabird. Thousands of rhinoceros auklets return to their burrows to feed their young as the sun sets each evening. According to Refuge Manager, Kevin Ryan, Protection Island is considered the "last stand" for breeding tufted puffins in Puget Sound. Harbor and elephant seals haul out to rest and have their pups on the Island's sand spits.
The 449-acre San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge encompasses more than 83 small islands, rocks, and reefs scattered throughout the San Juan Archipelago in the northwestern waters of Washington State. In 1976, all the Refuge islands were designated wilderness under the Wilderness Act, except for Smith, Minor, Turn Islands and a 5-acre parcel on Matia. A wide diversity of marine and coastal species inhabit the remnant prairies, cliff faces, rocky shorelines and old growth forest on the dispersed lands of this Refuge. Although largely closed to public access, the Service manages wildlife-dependent public recreation on Matia and Turn Islands under an agreement with the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Both refuges are popular with local residents and tourists who enjoy watching the abundant seabirds and marine mammals by circumnavigating the Refuge islands by boat at least 200 yards from shore.
The Service invites public comments on issues to be addressed in the CCP. For more information, including the first planning update for this project, see the Service's website at: http://www.fws.gov/pacific/planning. To receive a paper copy of the planning update and comment form, or to submit comments, contact: Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 33 S. Barr Road, Port Angeles, WA 98362, phone: (360) 457-8451 fax: 360-452-5086. Comments can also be e-mailed to us using the following address: FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Please include "Protection Island and San Juan Islands" in the subject line. To have your comments considered during the public scoping phase of the CCP's development, submit your comments or return the comment form by October 30, 2007. There will be additional opportunities to provide comments throughout the CCP planning process.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 548 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.