[Federal Register: July 18, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 138)]
[Page 37489-37490]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Intent To Prepare a Management Plan and Environmental Impact 
Statement for Bison and Elk at the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton 
National Park in Teton County, Wyoming

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service, Department 
of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Fish and Wildlife 
Service (FWS) and National Park Service (NPS), in cooperation with the 
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the 
Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF), are beginning to prepare a 
management plan and environmental impact statement (EIS) for management 
of bison and elk in the National Elk Refuge (NER) and Grand Teton 
National Park (GTNP) in Wyoming. Bison and elk utilizing these areas 
comprise a large portion of the ``Jackson Bison and Elk Herds.'' The 
planning/EIS process will involve analysis of ecosystem level 
conditions and actions which affect management of bison and elk on the 
park and refuge and will develop herd management alternatives for 
accomplishing the goals, objectives, and purposes of the NER and GTNP. 
Since most bison and elk utilizing these areas at some time during the 
year also utilize other areas during other periods of the year, the 
planning process will involve all agencies having some authority over 
the same animals. The FWS and NPS are lead agencies and the USDA Forest 
Service and APHIS are cooperating agencies in the preparation of the 
EIS. The State of Wyoming has not yet determined its level of 
involvement in the project.
    This notice is being furnished as required by the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Regulations (40 CFR 1501.7) to obtain 
suggestions and information from other agencies and the public on the 
scope of issues to be addressed in the EIS. Comments and participation 
in this scoping process are herein solicited. Additional notices of 
information/document availability and requests for comments and 
participation will be published at appropriate times in the process

DATES: Written comments on the scope of issues should be received by 
the Jackson Bison and Elk Assistant Project Leader (see ADDRESSES, 
below) by August 24, 2001. Prescoping public meetings were held in 
Wyoming from February 10 through May 5, 2001. All project-related 
comments received by the project team prior to this notice (e.g. in 
prescoping) will be incorporated into the scoping record and considered 
in the process.
    The project scoping meetings listed below have been scheduled. A 
project mailing list was begun with the prescoping process. Mailers 
advising of the meetings listed below, and all additional public 
meetings for the project, will be sent to all individuals and 
organizations on the project mailing list. Requests for addition to the 
mailing list can be made by correspondence to the assistant project 
leader (see ADDRESSES, below). Information related to all project 
meetings may be viewed at the project website via: http://

[[Page 37490]]

                           Jackson Bison and Elk Management Plan/EIS Scoping Meetings
                  Date                                  City                              Location
Friday, July 20, 2001...................  Jackson, WY.....................  Commissioners' Chamber (200 S.
Saturday, July 21, 2001.................  Rock Springs, WY................  Holiday Inn (1675 Sunset Drive)
Monday, July 23, 2001...................  Idaho Falls, ID.................  Quality Inn (850 Lindsay Blvd.)
Tuesday, July 24, 2001..................  Bozeman, MT.....................  Best Western Grantree (1325 N. 7th)
Wednesday, July 25, 2001................  Sheridan, WY....................  Best Western Sheridan Center (612 N.
Thursday, July 26, 2001.................  Casper, WY......................  Holiday Inn (300 W. ``F'' St.)
Friday, July 27, 2001...................  Riverton, WY....................  City Hall (816 N. Federal Blvd.)
Wednesday, August 1, 2001...............  Cheyenne, WY....................  Little America (2800 W. Lincolnway)
Thursday, August 2, 2001................  Lakewood, CO....................  Denver Sheraton West (360 Union
Friday, August 3, 2001..................  Arlington, VA...................  Holiday Inn at Ballston (4610 N.
                                                                             Fairfax Dr.)

    All meetings will be from 6:30 to 8:30pm.
    This information will also be available on the website, sent to the 
mailing list, announced by local radio stations, and published in local 

ADDRESSES: Send written comments, and/or requests to be added to the 
mailing list, to Don DeLong, Assistant Project Leader, Jackson Bison 
and Elk Management Planning Office, PO Box 510, Jackson, Wyoming 83001, 
USA. Phone: 307-733-9212 extension 235, or via email to bison/

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The Assistant Project Leader listed 
above, or Dr. Dan E. Huff, Project Leader, US Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Region 6, Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225, 
USA. Phone: 303-236-8145 extension 605.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Dan Huff and Don DeLong are primary authors 
of this document.
    GTNP and the NER border one another and are located just north of 
Jackson, in northwestern Wyoming. Together with the BTNF, they make up 
most of the southern half of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The NER 
comprises about 25,000 acres and the GTNP, about 304,000 acres. The 
Jackson Bison and Elk Herds make up one of the largest concentrations 
of free-ranging ungulates in North America. Currently, these herds 
total approximately 600 bison and 14,000 elk. The herds migrate across 
several jurisdictional boundaries including GTNP and southern 
Yellowstone National Park, the BTNF, Bureau of Land Management resource 
areas, and state and private lands, before they over-winter on the BTNF 
and the NER. Because of the wide range of authorities and interests, 
including cooperative management by the State of Wyoming on most 
federal lands, the NPS and FWS are seeking a cooperative approach to 
management planning involving all of the associated federal and state 
agencies and a broad range of organized and private interests.
    A management plan (Jackson Bison Herd Long Term Management Plan and 
Environmental Assessment) was developed by GTNP and the NER, in 
cooperation with and Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the BTNF, for 
the Jackson Bison Herd and finalized in September, 1996. A Record of 
Decision (ROD) for that document was approved in 1997. But, a lawsuit 
was brought by the Fund for Animals (FFA) in 1998 enjoining most 
federal management actions proposed in the 1996 plan. The court ruled 
that destruction of bison on federal lands for population control 
purposes could not be carried out until additional NEPA compliance was 
completed for those actions. The court also directed that additional 
NEPA compliance consider the effects of elk winter-feeding by the FWS 
on the NER, on the Jackson bison population.
    The Refuge Improvement Act of 1997 requires that ``Comprehensive 
Conservation Plans'' (CCPs) be developed for all national wildlife 
refuges. For the NER, elk management, including winter-feeding would 
make up the most significant issue in that CCP. In order to coordinate 
the compliance required for NER and GTNP bison and elk management under 
NEPA itself, the FFA lawsuit, and the Refuge Improvement Act, and since 
many management actions for one affect both species, this planning/
compliance process was proposed by GTNP and the NER, and directed by 
the DOI Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks in 1999.
    A series of prescoping public meetings was held on this project, 
prior to formal scoping, to share information and demonstrate interests 
in future desired conditions by the wide range of interests. Results of 
these meetings are available on the project WebPage. While formal 
identification of project scope, including issues to be addressed, will 
be carried out in the scoping process, information from the prescoping 
meetings make it likely that bison and elk population size, habitat 
impacts of bison and elk and habitat management, associated recreation 
(including hunting programs), winter-feeding, and disease management 
will all be addressed. These issues may be redefined, and additional 
issues are likely to be identified.
    Estimated dates for milestones in this process are listed below. 
Any revised dates will be provided in newsletters to the project 
mailing list, in news releases, and at the website.
    Situation Assessment (completed)--September 21, 2000;
    Prescoping Meetings (completed)--February 10-May 5, 2001;
    Notice of Intent'' published in Federal Register--July 15, 2001;
    Scoping Meetings--July 20-August 3, 2001;
    Draft Plan/EIS available to the public--September 15, 2002;
    Final Plan/EIS available to the public--September 15, 2003;
    ``Record of Decision'' published in Federal Register--January 1, 

    Dated: July 17, 2001.
Duane K. McDermond,
Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System.
[FR Doc. 01-17960 Filed 7-17-01; 8:45 am]