News Release

February 1, 2012

Public Scoping Period Extended for Wilderness Review and Legislative Environmental Impact Statement

Media Contacts:
Matthew Ching, 808-792-9540

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the public scoping period for a wilderness review and legislative environmental impact statement (WR/LEIS) for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Refuge Complex). The Refuge Complex manages 22 national wildlife refuges that are spread across the Hawaiian Islands and other areas in the Pacific. The purposes of the WR/LEIS include the following:

* Evaluate lands and waters within the Refuge Complex to identify Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs)
* Determine if the WSAs are suitable for recommending Congressional designation as wilderness
* Evaluate the effects of various WR/LEIS alternatives

A Notice of Intent to prepare the WR/LEIS was published in the Federal Register on December 16, 2011. The original deadline to submit public comments was January 30, 2012. However, the Service is now extending the public scoping period for the WR/LEIS by 30 days. The new deadline for public comments for this initial part of the process is now February 29, 2012.

The scoping period will allow the public, Federal, State, Territorial, and local government agencies and other interested parties an opportunity to bring forward issues, concerns, ideas, and suggestions important to the evaluation of potential wilderness designations in the Refuge Complex. The following preliminary issues have been identified:

* Which refuge lands and waters should be included in wilderness proposals identified in the WR/LEIS alternatives?
* How would current or planned refuge uses, including natural resource management activities, public visitation, and scientific research, be affected in areas identified in potential wilderness recommendations?
* How would our management of refuge resources, including historic and cultural artifacts, biological resources, and physical attributes such as water quality and soils, be affected in areas identified in potential wilderness recommendations?
* How should global climate change and its potential impacts be considered in the WR/LEIS? Additional issues may be identified throughout the development of the WR/LEIS.

Scoping comments should be submitted no later than February 29, 2012 via:
- Email: FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov
- Fax: Attn: Matthew Ching, 808-792-9585
- U.S. Mail: Matthew Ching, Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 300 Ala Moana Blvd. Rm 5-231, Honolulu, HI 96813