[Federal Register: January 16, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 10)]
[Page 3667-3673]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

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Part III

Department of the Interior


Fish and Wildlife Service


Draft Policy on National Wildlife Refuge System: Mission, Goals, and 
Purposes; Notice

Draft Appropriate Refuge Uses Policy Pursuant to the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997; Notice

Draft Wildlife-Dependent Recreational Uses Policy Pursuant to the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997; Notice

Draft Wilderness Stewardship Policy Pursuant to the Wilderness Act of 
1964; Notice

[[Page 3668]]



Fish and Wildlife Service


Draft Policy on National Wildlife Refuge System: Mission, Goals, 
and Purposes

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: We propose to adopt a policy articulating the mission of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System (System), establishing its goals, and 
providing guidance for identifying or determining the purpose(s) of 
individual refuge units within the System. We propose that this policy 
be incorporated into the Fish and Wildlife Service Manual. The chapter 
will be consistent with the principles contained within the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (NWRSAA-1966), as 
amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 
(NWRSIA-1997), including recognizing the priority for management 
activities set forth in the NWRSIA-1997 (wildlife, wildlife-dependent 
uses, and other uses) in setting and achieving refuge goals and 
    The draft chapter also provides policy on how the purpose(s) of 
refuge additions relate to the original refuge purpose(s), and how 
wilderness designated under the Wilderness Act can affect a refuge's 
purpose(s). It also provides a decision-tree for how to determine 
refuge purpose(s) from existing documentation.

DATES: Comments must be received by March 19, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Send comments concerning this draft policy via mail, fax, or 
email to: Barry Stieglitz, Acting Chief, Division of Conservation 
Planning and Policy, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 670, Arlington, Virginia, 
22203; fax (703) 358-2248; email Mission_And_Goals_ 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Barry Stieglitz, National Wildlife 
Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Telephone (703) 358-

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The NWRSIA-1997 (Pub. L. 105-57) amends and 
builds upon the NWRSAA-1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), providing an 
``Organic Act'' for the System. It clearly establishes that wildlife 
conservation is the singular mission of the System and affirms the 
importance of refuge purposes as they relate to the broader System 
mission. It states that we shall manage each refuge to fulfill the 
mission of the System, as well as the specific purpose(s) for which 
that refuge was established.
    The NWRSIA-1997 also provides a clear hierarchy of activities: 
wildlife conservation, wildlife-dependent recreational uses, and other 
uses. This chapter reinforces this hierarchy and allows us to 
articulate our goals for the System, given the direction this new 
legislation provides. We will incorporate this chapter in the Service 
Manual as 601 FW 1, replacing 2 RM 1 ``Objectives of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System,'' which has been in effect since 1982. The 
complete text of the policy concludes this document, but the following 
is a overview of the chapter.

Overview of the Draft National Wildlife Refuge System: Mission, 
Goals, and Purposes Policy

    Section 1.1 presents the purpose of the chapter.
    Section 1.2 explains that this chapter applies to national wildlife 
refuges, waterfowl production areas, and coordination areas, which are 
all units of the System. It does not apply to administrative sites or 
national fish hatcheries.
    Section 1.3 describes how the System mission and goals, and 
individual unit purposes relate to each other. It reiterates the 
NWRSIA-1997 language that clearly provides for a unit's purpose(s) to 
receive priority over the System mission, should there be a conflict 
between the two.
    Section 1.4 describes the mission of the System.
    Section 1.5 describes how the System mission relates to the Service 
mission. The network of lands and waters within the System clearly 
supports the Service mission of ``* * * working with others, to 
conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their 
habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.''
    Section 1.6 lists the goals of the System. These are:
    A. To fulfill our statutory duty to achieve refuge purpose(s) and 
further the System mission;
    B. Conserve, restore where appropriate, and enhance all species of 
fish, wildlife, and plants that are endangered or threatened with 
becoming endangered;
    C. Perpetuate migratory bird, interjurisdictional fish, and marine 
mammal populations;
    D. Conserve a diversity of fish, wildlife, and plants;
    E. Conserve and restore as appropriate representative ecosystems of 
the United States, including the ecological processes characteristic of 
those ecosystems; and
    F. To foster understanding and instill appreciation of native fish, 
wildlife, and plants, and their conservation, by providing the public 
with safe, high-quality, and compatible wildlife-dependent public use. 
Such use includes hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation.
    Section 1.7 describes each of these goals in more detail and 
justification for why each goal is appropriate for the System.
    Section 1.8 explains the relationship the identified goals have to 
our management priorities. It reiterates the priorities established in 
the NWRSIA-1997 to be: (1) Wildlife, (2) wildlife-dependent uses, and 
(3) other uses.
    Section 1.9 discusses how we will use these System goals to provide 
the philosophical foundation of the System; to consider when developing 
wildlife population and habitat goals and objectives; to guide the land 
acquisition decision-making process; and in making determinations 
regarding appropriate uses and compatibility.
    Section 1.10 describes what a ``unit purpose'' is, quoting from the 
    Section 1.11 discusses the importance of unit purposes.
    Section 1.12 gives examples of unit purposes, and explains that 
some may be quite broadly written, while others may have a more narrow 
    Section 1.13 gives the references where unit purposes can be found 
for each unit in the System.
    Section 1.14 discusses how to determine which purpose(s) take 
priority over others, if a particular unit has multiple purposes 
associated with it.
    Section 1.15 discusses the relationship of purposes for additions 
to existing units affect the original purpose(s) of the established 
unit(s), and vice versa.
    Section 1.16 discusses how wilderness areas designated under the 
Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1131-1136) affect a unit's purpose(s).
    Section 1.17 provides a process for determining the purpose(s) of 
units of the System. It is a decision-tree that guides you through 
establishment/authorization methods and what other references you may 
need when purposes have not been clearly articulated in establishment/
authorization documents. It also specifies that the Director of the

[[Page 3669]]

Service must approve purposes in cases where establishing/authorizing 
documents do not articulate the purpose(s).

Comment Solicitation

    If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments by any one of 
several methods. You may mail comments to: Barry Stieglitz, National 
Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North 
Fairfax Drive--MS670, Arlington, VA 22203. You may comment via the 
Internet to: Mission_And_Goals _Policy_ Comments@fws.gov. Please submit 
Internet comments as an ASCII file, avoiding the use of special 
characters and any form of encryption. If you do not receive a 
confirmation from the system that we have received your Internet 
message, contact us directly at (703) 358-1744. You may also fax 
comments to: Barry Stieglitz, National Wildlife Refuge System, (703) 
358-2248. Finally, you may hand-deliver comments to the address 
mentioned above.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home address from the record, which we will honor to the extent 
allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which we would 
withhold from the record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. 
If you wish us to withhold your name and/or address, you must state 
this prominently at the beginning of your comment. However, we will not 
consider anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from 
organizations or businesses and from individuals identifying themselves 
as representative or officials of organizations or businesses, 
available for public inspection in their entirety.
    We seek public comments on this draft policy and will take into 
consideration comments and any additional information received during 
the 60-day comment period.
    We published a notice in the Federal Register on January 23, 1998 
(63 FR 3583) notifying the public that we would be revising the Service 
Manual, establishing regulations as they relate to the NWRSIA-1997, and 
offering to send copies of specific draft Service Manual chapters to 
anyone who would like to receive them. We will mail a copy of this 
draft Service Manual chapter to those who requested one. In addition, 
this draft Service Manual chapter will be available on the Internet at 
http://www.fws.gov/directives/library/frindex.html during the 60-day 
comment period.

Required Determinations

Regulatory Planning and Review

    In accordance with the criteria in Executive Order 12866, this 
document is not a significant regulatory action. The Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) makes the final determination under 
Executive Order 12866.
    a. This document will not have an annual economic effect of $100 
million or adversely affect an economic sector, productivity, jobs, the 
environment, or other units of government. A cost-benefit or full 
economic analysis is not required. This document is administrative and 
procedural in nature. This draft National Wildlife Refuge System policy 
provides for a hierarchy of activities and establishes the process for 
articulating the goals for the System. This policy will have the effect 
of providing priority consideration for wildlife conservation and 
wildlife-dependent recreational uses involving hunting, fishing, 
wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and 
interpretation and other uses. Existing policy has been in place since 
1982. The NWRSIA-1997 does not change this direction in public use, but 
provides legal recognition for the mission, goals, and purposes of the 
System. We expect this articulated policy will not cause a measurable 
economic effect to existing national wildlife refuge public use 
    The appropriate measure of the economic effect of changes in 
recreational use is the change in the welfare of recreationists. We 
measure this in terms of willingness to pay for the recreational 
opportunity. We estimated total annual willingness to pay for all 
recreation at national wildlife refuges to be $372.5 million in Fiscal 
Year 1995 (Banking on Nature: The Economic Benefits to Local 
Communities of National Wildlife Refuge Visitation, DOI/FWS/Refuges 
1997). We expect the policy implemented in this document will not 
affect public uses of the Refuge System. This does not mean that every 
refuge will have the same public uses. Public uses of a refuge are 
determined when a refuge is established and after public hearings are 
held. Only compatible uses with the purpose of the refuge are proposed 
for public review and comment. This policy will provide for a unit's 
purposes to receive priority over System mission should there be a 
conflict between the two.
    This document will not make changes in the amounts of public 
activities occurring on national wildlife refuges. There will not be a 
change in the total benefits of permitted public uses activities on 
national wildlife refuges.
    b. This document will not create a serious inconsistency or 
otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency 
since the document pertains solely to management of national wildlife 
refuges by the Service.
    c. This document does not alter the budgetary effects or 
entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights or 
obligations of their recipients. There are no grants or other Federal 
assistance programs associated with public use of national wildlife 
    d. This document does not raise novel legal or policy issues; 
however, it does provide a hierarchy of activities pursuant to the 
NWRSIA-1997 provisions that ensure that wildlife conservation, 
wildlife-dependent recreational uses and other uses are the priority 
public uses of the System.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    We certify that this document will not have a significant economic 
effect on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.).
    Congress created the National Wildlife Refuge System to conserve 
fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats and facilitated this 
conservation mission by providing Americans opportunities to visit and 
participate in compatible wildlife-dependent recreation (hunting, 
fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental 
education and interpretation) as priority general public uses on 
national wildlife refuges and to better appreciate the value of, and 
need for, wildlife conservation.
    This document is administrative and procedural in nature and 
provides for a hierarchy of activities on refuges: wildlife 
conservation, wildlife-dependent recreation and other uses. Since uses 
of a national wildlife refuge are determined with the establishment of 
the refuge, which includes public hearings, this policy will not affect 
public uses of refuges, and consequently, not affect any business 
establishments in the vicinity of any refuge.
    National wildlife refuge visitation is a small component of the 
wildlife recreation industry as a whole. In 1996, 77 million U.S. 
residents over 15 years old spent 1.2 billion activity-days in 
wildlife-associated recreation activities. They spent about $30 billion 
on fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching trips (Tables 49, 54, 59, 
63, 1996 National

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Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, DOI/
FWS/FA, 1997). National wildlife refuges recorded about 29 million 
visitor-days that year (RMIS, FY1996 Public Use Summary). A study of 
1995 national wildlife refuge visitors found their travel spending 
generated $401 million in sales and 10,000 jobs for local economies 
(Banking on Nature: The Economic Benefits to Local Communities of 
National Wildlife Refuge Visitation, DOI/FWS/Refuges, 1997). These 
spending figures include spending which would have occurred in the 
community anyway, and so they show the importance of the activity in 
the local economy rather than its incremental impact. Marginally 
greater recreational opportunities on national wildlife refuges will 
have little industry-wide effect.
    There are no expected changes in expenditures as a result of this 
document. We expect there will not be a change in recreational 
opportunities so we do not expect the document to have a significant 
economic effect on a substantial number of small entities in any region 
or nationally.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This document is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This document:
    a. Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or 
more. These regulations will affect only visitors at national wildlife 
refuges. They may result in increased visitation at refuges and provide 
for minor changes to the methods of public use permitted within the 
National Wildlife Refuge System. Refer to response under Regulatory 
Flexibility Act.
    b. Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government 
agencies, or geographic regions. See response above.
    c. Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of 
U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. See 
response above.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501, 
et seq.):
    a. This document will not ``significantly or uniquely'' affect 
small governments. A Small Government Agency Plan is not required. See 
response to Regulatory Flexibility Act.
    b. This document will not produce a Federal mandate of $100 million 
or greater in any year, i.e., it is not a ``significant regulatory 
action'' under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. See response to 
Regulatory Flexibility Act.


    In accordance with Executive Order 12630, the document does not 
have significant takings implications. A takings implication assessment 
is not required. These regulations may result in increased visitation 
at refuges and provide for minor changes to the methods of public use 
permitted within the National Wildlife Refuge System. Refer to response 
under Regulatory Flexibility Act.


    In accordance with Executive Order 13132, the document does not 
have significant federalism effects. This document will not have 
substantial direct effects on the States, in their relationship between 
the Federal Government and the States, or on the distribution of power 
and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, 
in accordance with Executive Order 13132, we have determined that this 
document does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant 
the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

Civil Justice Reform

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the Office of the 
Solicitor has determined that the document does not unduly burden the 
judicial system and meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) 
of the Order. The regulation will expand upon established regulations, 
and result in better understanding of the regulations by refuge 

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This document does not require an information collection from ten 
or more parties and a submission under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995 is not required.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We ensure compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4332(C)) when developing national wildlife 
refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plans and public use management 
plans, and we make determinations required by NEPA before the addition 
of national wildlife refuges to the lists of areas open to public uses. 
The revisions to regulations as proposed in this document resolve a 
variety of issues concerning our administration of national wildlife 
refuge uses. In accordance with 516 DM 2, Appendix 1.10, we have 
determined that this document is categorically excluded from the NEPA 
process because it is limited to policies, directives, regulations and 
guidelines of an administrative, financial, legal, technical or 
procedural nature; or the environmental effects of which are too broad, 
speculative or conjectural to lend themselves to meaningful analysis. 
Site-specific proposals, as indicated above, will be subject to the 
NEPA process.

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments'' (59 FR 22951) and 512 DM 2, we have evaluated possible 
effects on federally recognized Indian tribes and have determined that 
there are no effects. In Alaska, this regulation would not apply to the 
development and use of Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), 
22(g) village lands in Alaska national wildlife refuges.

Primary Author

    Brad Knudsen, Refuge Program Specialist, National Wildlife Refuge 
System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the primary author of this 

Refuge Management--Part 601 National Wildlife Refuge System

Chapter 1 National Wildlife Refuge System Mission and Goals and 
Purposes 601 FW 1

    1.1  What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter reiterates 
the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System, how it relates to 
the mission of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and explains the 
relationship of the System mission and goals, and the purpose(s) of 
each unit of the System. This chapter provides goals for the System and 
guidance for identifying or determining the purpose(s) of each unit 
within the System. This chapter also provides guidance on the use of 
goals and purposes in the administration and management of the System.
    1.2  What is the scope of this chapter? This chapter applies to all 
units of the System. For purposes of this chapter, a unit of the System 
is defined as all lands, waters, and interests therein administered by 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as wildlife refuges, wildlife 
ranges, wildlife management areas, waterfowl production areas, 
coordination areas and other areas for the protection and conservation 
of fish

[[Page 3671]]

and wildlife including those threatened with extinction as determined 
in writing by the Director or so directed by Presidential or 
Secretarial order.
    1.3  How do the System mission, goals, and unit purpose(s) relate 
to each other? Collectively, the System mission, goals, and unit 
purpose(s) define the duty of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 
administration and management of any unit of the System. Ideally, the 
System mission, goals, and unit purpose(s) are viewed as symbiotic in 
nature; however, priority is given to achieving a unit's purpose(s) 
when conflicts with the System mission or a specific goal are 
identified. Unit purposes form the foundation for developing goals and 
objectives for units during Comprehensive Conservation Plan 
preparation, and provide the basis for determining the appropriateness 
and compatibility of existing and proposed uses on units.
    1.4  What is the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System? 
The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (NWRSAA-
1966), as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement 
Act of 1997 (NWRSIA-1997), states the following: ``The mission of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of 
lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where 
appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and 
their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and 
future generations of Americans.''
    1.5  How does the mission of the System relate to the mission of 
the Service? The mission of the Service set forth in National Policy 
Issuance 99-01 is: ``Our mission is working with others, to conserve, 
protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for 
the continuing benefit of the American people.'' To accomplish this 
mission, there is a clear need for a network of lands and waters 
representing the diversity of landscapes and ecosystems of the United 
States dedicated to the conservation of fish, wildlife, and plants. 
While the mission of the System and purposes of individual units are 
paramount, it is recognized that the System contributes a vital 
component to the Service mission.
    1.6  What are the goals of the System? The administration, 
management, and growth of the System are guided by the following goals:
    A. To fulfill our statutory duty to achieve refuge purpose(s) and 
further the System mission.
    B. Conserve, restore where appropriate, and enhance all species of 
fish, wildlife, and plants that are endangered or threatened with 
becoming endangered.
    C. Perpetuate migratory bird, interjurisdictional fish, and marine 
mammal populations.
    D. Conserve a diversity of fish, wildlife, and plants.
    E. Conserve and restore where appropriate representative ecosystems 
of the United States, including the ecological processes characteristic 
of those ecosystems.
    F. To foster understanding and instill appreciation of native fish, 
wildlife, and plants, and their conservation, by providing the public 
with safe, high-quality, and compatible wildlife-dependent public use. 
Such use includes hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation.
    1.7  What do these goals mean? Goal A. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service is entrusted with the stewardship of America's National 
Wildlife Refuge System. Our first obligation in meeting that trust is 
the non-discretionary duty to fulfill refuge purpose(s). We may not 
discard that obligation in pursuit of other objectives. We may, in 
order to fulfill the broader System mission, and the further goals 
enumerated below, manage a refuge to achieve additional wildlife 
conservation purposes and needs, unforseen, unknown, or resulting from 
circumstances unanticipated at the time of refuge establishment. These 
additional efforts will be additive to the achievement of refuge 
purpose(s), which is our first and highest obligation.
    Goal B. Threatened and endangered species are those listed as such 
by the Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service. As we manage 
to achieve unit purposes, we are mindful of our obligations under 
section 2(c)(1) of the Endangered Species Act and we strive to be a 
model for other Federal land management agencies in fulfilling that 
obligation. We protect and manage candidate and proposed species to 
enhance their status and help preclude the need for listing. Per 
Service policy [see Section 1.2(C) of the Service's ``Section 7 
Consultation Handbook'', March 1998], we will consult or confer with 
Service Ecological Services staff on any actions authorized, funded, or 
carried out on System units that may affect listed, proposed, or 
candidate species or designated or proposed critical habitat.
    Goal C. We strive to meet the needs of all migratory birds in our 
habitat strategies, especially those species which are rare, declining, 
or tied directly to a unit's purpose(s). We contribute to such efforts 
as the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, and continue to 
recognize the System's role in the perpetuation of the continent's 
waterfowl resource: more than 200 refuges and thousands of waterfowl 
production areas have been established for purpose of waterfowl or 
migratory bird conservation. We emphasize the conservation and 
management of those marine mammals for which the Service has been given 
primary management authority, including polar bears, walruses, sea 
otters, manatees, and dugongs, as well as the conservation of any 
marine mammal using System lands or waters. We emphasize the 
conservation and management of those fish populations using System 
waters and whose life-cycle movements cross international, State, or 
Tribal boundaries. Examples include anadromous species of salmon and 
free-roaming species endemic to large river systems, such as paddlefish 
and sturgeon.
    Goal D. We sustain all native species of animals and plants that 
inhabit units of the System through our efforts to maintain the 
biological diversity, biological integrity, and environmental health of 
each unit. This does not preclude the consumptive use of some species 
when compatible with a unit's purpose(s) and the System mission, or the 
population management of some species to help achieve a unit's 
purpose(s). Some units were established primarily to protect 
populations of certain animal species that have a unique historic and 
cultural legacy in North America. We continue to emphasize the 
conservation of those native species tied directly to the establishment 
purpose(s) of units.
    Goal E. Through our management and acquisition efforts, we assist 
states, Tribes, other agencies and conservation groups in preserving 
those ecosystems, plant communities, wetlands of national or 
international significance, and/or landscapes that are unique, rare, 
declining, or under-represented in existing conservation lands. We use 
existing and emerging classification systems that identify such 
ecosystems and/or resources to guide our preservation, restoration, and 
acquisition efforts. We care for our special designation lands such as 
wilderness, natural areas, wild and scenic rivers, national monuments, 
and national natural landmarks, and, where appropriate, expand these 
designations on existing and new units. We strive to establish and 
maintain a network of biological reserves to ensure preservation and 
genetic exchange of our Nation's diverse natural heritage in

[[Page 3672]]

partnership with other Federal land management agencies, States, 
conservation organizations, and members of the public participating on 
a voluntary basis.
    Goal F. We recognize that a higher awareness of, and appreciation 
for, the value of fish and wildlife conservation is gained in part by 
providing opportunities for people to engage in compatible wildlife-
dependent recreation. This higher awareness and appreciation ultimately 
contributes to the mission of the System. Thus, we facilitate 
opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation that are 
compatible with a unit's purpose(s) and the System mission. Our 
interpretive and education programs also include historic and cultural 
resources found on units. We actively seek partnerships for our public 
use programs when a lack of funds or staff limit implementation.
    1.8  How do these goals relate to management priorities? The 
NWRSAA-1966, as amended, sets forth the following priority for 
management activities: (1) Wildlife, (2) wildlife-dependent 
recreational uses, and (3) other uses. Thus, goals dealing with fish, 
wildlife, and plants, and the habitat or ecosystems on which they 
depend, take priority over wildlife-dependent uses or any other uses of 
System lands. Wildlife-dependent recreational uses in turn take 
priority over those uses which are not wildlife-dependent. Each unit 
contributes to one or more of the goals of the System, depending on the 
purpose(s) of the unit, a unit's geographic and ecological setting, and 
the unique characteristics, potential, or limitations of each unit.
    1.9  How will we use these goals of the System? These goals help 
step down the System mission and statements on System management as 
written in the NWRSAA-1997, as amended. Collectively, these goals 
articulate the foundation for our stewardship of the System and define 
the unique niche it occupies among the various Federal land systems. We 
consider these goals in developing wildlife population and habitat 
goals and objectives at the System, regional, ecosystem, and unit 
level; in providing a frame of reference for Comprehensive Conservation 
Plans; to guide the land acquisition decision-making process; to assist 
managers in applying sound professional judgment to their decisions 
while carrying out the purpose(s) of their units and in determining 
whether proposed uses are appropriate and compatible; and as a guide 
when developing other policies on System administration and management.
    1.10  What is meant by the term ``unit purpose?'' Unit purpose 
refers to the justification for the establishment of a unit of the 
System as a place owned by the American people and cared for on their 
behalf. The NWRSAA-1966, as amended, defines ``purposes of the refuge'' 
as the ``purposes specified in or derived from the law, proclamation, 
executive order, agreement, public land order, donation document, or 
administrative memorandum establishing, authorizing, or expanding a 
refuge, refuge unit, or refuge subunit.''
    1.11  Why are unit purposes important? Purposes define the 
essential objective of our refuge stewardship. They constitute a non-
discretionary obligation as the legislative, legal, and administrative 
foundations for the administration and management of a unit of the 
System. This includes planning, setting unit goals and objectives, and 
authorization of public uses, which must be shown to be appropriate and 
compatible with the purpose(s) of a unit and the System mission before 
they are allowed.
    1.12  What are some examples of purposes? Units acquired under the 
authority of general conservation laws take on the purpose of the law. 
Examples of such laws include the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the 
Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, the 
Emergency Wetlands Resources Act, and the Alaska National Interest 
Lands Conservation Act. Executive Orders and refuge-specific 
legislation generally declare the purpose(s) of the unit, sometimes 
broadly (``as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds''), and 
sometimes very specifically (``to protect and preserve in the national 
interest the Key deer and other wildlife resources in the Florida 
    1.13  Where can the purpose(s) of each unit of the System be found? 
The publication ``Purposes for Refuges of the National Wildlife Refuge 
System'' contains the official purpose(s) for each unit. This 
publication is updated annually to include new additions to the System, 
and can be found by using the ``Search--databases'' on the System web 
server at http://refuges.fws.gov.
    1.14  If a unit has multiple purposes, do some purposes take 
priority over others? Unless otherwise indicated in the establishing 
law, order, or other document, purposes dealing with the conservation, 
management, and restoration of fish, wildlife, and plants, and the 
habitats on which they depend, take precedent over other purposes in 
the management and administration of any unit. Where a refuge has 
multiple purposes related to fish, wildlife and plant conservation, the 
more specific purpose will take precedent in instances of conflict. 
Designated wilderness assumes the purposes of the Wilderness Act of 
1964 in addition and equal to other unit purposes, unless otherwise 
specified in the wilderness designation.
    1.15  How does the purpose(s) associated with acquiring new lands 
for existing units relate to the original purpose(s) of the existing 
units? When an addition to a unit is acquired under an authority 
different from the authority used to establish the original unit, the 
addition also takes on the purpose(s) of the original unit, but the 
original unit does not take on the purpose(s) of the addition.
    1.16  How does the Wilderness Act affect a unit's purpose? The 
purposes of the Wilderness Act become additional and equal purposes of 
units with designated wilderness, but apply only to those areas so 
designated. The purposes of the Wilderness Act include both the 
preservation of wilderness condition and character, and the use and 
enjoyment of wilderness.
    1.17  What is the process for determining purposes of units? The 
purpose(s) of existing units may be found as described in section 1.13. 
We will use the decision process outlined in Exhibit 1 to determine the 
purpose(s) of a unit. This process can be applied to all System 
acquisitions, including excess military lands, land exchanges, or 
condemnations by focusing on the acquisition authority for the 
particular property. This process takes into account those rare cases 
where acquisition authority provides a vague purpose. This process 
should be used for each parcel or group of parcels included under 
different acquisition authorities, until the purpose for each authority 
has been determined.

Exhibit 1--Decision Process for Determining Unit Purposes

    Step I. Was the unit established by an Executive Order, public 
land order, or Secretarial Order?
    A. Yes.
    1. The document specifies the purpose(s) for the unit--DONE.
    2. The document does not specify a purpose:
    What is the historical record of management, management plans, 
and the biological history of the area? Articulate the purpose(s) 
for Director's approval--DONE.
    3. If any lands/waters at this unit were not included under any 
additional authorities--DONE.
    4. If any lands/waters at this unit were included under 
additional authorities, go to Step II.

[[Page 3673]]

    B. No. Go to Step II.
    Step II. Was the unit established or authorized by unit-specific 
    A. Yes.
    1. The legislation states the purpose(s) of the unit--DONE.
    2. The legislation does not specify a purpose:
    Further research is required including legislative history, 
agency testimony in the Congressional Record, or documents approved 
by the Director, or lacking these, the biological history of the 
area, resource inventories, or other resource-based documentation. 
Articulate the purpose(s) for Director's approval--DONE.
    3. If any lands/waters at this unit were not included under any 
additional authorities--DONE.
    4. If any lands/waters at this unit were included under 
additional authorities, go to Step III.
    B. No. Go to Step III.
    Step III. Was the unit established or acquired by the authority 
of one or more of the following 14 laws that grant the Service 
acquisition authority?

1. An Act Authorizing the Transfer of Certain Real Property
2. Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act
3. Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act
4. Colorado River Storage Act
5. Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986
6. Endangered Species Act of 1973
7. Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956
8. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
9. Lea Act
10. Migratory Bird Conservation Act
11. Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act
12. North American Wetlands Conservation Act
13. National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966
14. Refuge Recreation Act

    A. Yes.
    1. The purpose for acquisition is stated in the law and becomes 
the purpose of the unit--DONE.
    2. If any lands/waters at this unit were not included under any 
additional authorities--DONE.
    3. If any lands/waters at this unit were included under 
additional authorities, go to Step IV.
    B. No. Go to Step IV.
    Step IV. Was the unit donated to the Service?
    A. Yes.
    1. Research is required, including legislation that grants 
authority for donations, any biological reports on the unit or 
adjacent area, a review of fish, wildlife, and plant species of 
significance using the unit, and any conditions set forth in the 
donation letter or memorandum that do not conflict with the mission 
of the System. Articulate the purpose(s) for Director's approval.

    Dated: December 18, 2000.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.

[FR Doc. 01-20 Filed 1-12-01; 8:45 am]