[Federal Register: July 27, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 143)]
[Page 43446-43448]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of the Draft Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan and Environmental Assessment for Pelican Island National Wildlife 
Refuge in Sebastian, Florida.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service announces that a Draft 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental

[[Page 43447]]

Assessment for Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge are available 
for review and comment. The National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act of 1997, requires the Service to develop a 
comprehensive conservation plan for each national wildlife refuge. The 
purpose in developing a comprehensive conservation plan is to provide 
refuge managers with 15-year strategy for achieving refuge purposes and 
contributing toward the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System, 
consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife management, 
conservation, legal mandates, and Service policies. In addition to 
outlining broad management direction on conserving wildlife and their 
habitat, plans identify wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities 
available to the public, including opportunities for hunting, fishing, 
wildlife observation, wildlife photography, and environmental education 
and interpretation.

ADDRESSES: Requests for copies of the Draft Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan and Environmental Assessment should be addressed to Mr. Paul 
Tritaik, Refuge Manager, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, 1339 
20th Street, Vero Beach, Florida 32960; Telephone 772/562-3909, 
extension 275; Fax 772/299-3101. The draft plan and environmental 
assessment may be accessed and downloaded from the Service's Web site 

DATES: Individuals wishing to comment on the Draft Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment for Pelican Island 
National Wildlife Refuge should do so no later than September 26, 2005. 
Comments on the draft plan and environmental assessment may be 
submitted to Ms. Cheri Ehrhardt, Planning Team Leader, Merritt Island 
National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 6504, Titusville, Florida 32782-
6504; Telephone 321/861-2368; Fax 321/861-1276, or may be submitted via 
electronic mail to cheri_ehrhardt@fws.gov. Please include your name 
and return address in your message. Our practice is to make comments, 
including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public 
review during regular business hours. Individual respondents may 
requests that we withhold their home addresses from the record, which 
we will honor to the extent allowable by law.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The draft plan identifies and evaluates 
three alternatives for managing the refuge over the next 15 years. 
Under Alternative A, management would continue with programs following 
the same direction, emphasis, and intensity as historically occurred. 
No active management would address threatened and endangered species; 
neotropical migratory birds; shorebirds; natural and spoil islands; 
estuarine habitats; fish species; fish and wildlife disturbance; 
aquatic exotic, invasive, and nuisance species; seagrass beds; 
commercial operations on the refuge; and research activities occurring 
on the refuge. Few wildlife surveys would be conducted by the refuge. 
Limited management activities would address exotic, invasive, and 
nuisance species in transitional and upland habitats. Under Alternative 
A, the Kroegel Homestead would not be protected by the Fish and 
Wildlife Service. Further, no visitor center facility would be 
developed. Little or no patrol and enforcement would be provided to 
vulnerable archaeological sites of the refuge. Recreational activities 
would continue as currently offered, under the current lease with the 
State of Florida. Recreational activities (e.g., jet skiing and island 
camping) that are currently negatively impacting refuge wildlife and 
habitat would continue to occur under the current lease with the State 
of Florida. Refuge staff would continue at 6 or fewer staff members.
    Under Alternative B, management activities would minimally expand. 
Management activities would complete shoreline restoration of Pelican 
Island proper, expand the buffer of Pelican Island proper in accord 
with current research, and conduct regular patrol and enforcement 
activities. Further, management activities would expand to conduct 
baseline surveys for neotropical migratory birds; shorebirds; exotic, 
invasive, and nuisance species; and native wildlife using the refuge. 
Special use permits would be required for all research and commercial 
activities on the refuge. The refuge would pursue partnerships to 
protect key fish and spawning and settlement sites, to limit 
disturbance. The refuge would enhance opportunities for passive 
recreative, including observing and photographing wildlife, providing 
environmental education opportunities through partners, and 
interpreting the refuge. Fishing activities would continue to occur, 
under the current lease with the State of Florida. Other recreational 
activities (e.g., jet skiing and island camping) that are currently 
negatively impacting refuge wildlife and habitat would continue to 
occur under the current lease with the State of Florida. Regular patrol 
and enforcement activities would help limit negative impacts to 
archaeological sites on the refuge. Under Alternative B, the Kroegel 
Homestead would not be protected by the Fish and Wildlife Service. 
Further, no visitor center facility would be developed. To accomplish 
the outlined expansions in the biological, public use, and law 
enforcement programs, the staff level would expand to a total of nine.
    Alternative C, the preferred alternative, moderately expands refuge 
management activities to a level more in keeping with resources 
protected in the developed and developing landscape that surrounds the 
refuge. Under Alternative C, the biological program would expand to 
encompass management activities addressing rare, threatened, and 
endangered species; migratory birds; and wildlife diversity, including 
managing research projects, restoring and creating appropriate 
habitats, mapping key sites, collecting data, coordinating with 
education and management partners, and monitoring occurrences. Baseline 
data collection and habitat management activities would be directed 
towards neotropical migratory birds, shorebirds, native wildlife, and 
fish and wildlife disturbance. To limit wildlife and habitat 
disturbance and to provide better management of and protection for 
wildlife and habitats of the refuge, the refuge would work with the 
State of Florida and other governmental partners to alter existing 
agreements to enable the enforcement of Service regulations on all 
refuge managed lands and waters. Key fish spawning and settlement sites 
would be protected. Only compatible public use activities would be 
allowed to occur on all refuge owned or managed lands and waters. All 
uses not meeting the requirements of compatibility would be eliminated 
from the refuge (e.g., jet skiing and island camping). Fishing 
activities would include bank fishing from select upland sites. Signs, 
boardwalks, additional trails, and a wildlife drive would enhance 
existing recreational opportunities, including wildlife observation and 
photography and interpretation. All other activities on the refuge, 
such as research activities and commercial operations, would be 
required to obtain and maintain refuge special use permits. The refuge 
would work with the partners to acquire, manage, and list in the 
National Historic Register the Kroegel Homestead, home to the first 
refuge manager. The refuge would develop a modest visitor center and 
other visitor use facilities. Regular patrol and enforcement activities 
would help limit negative impacts to wildlife,

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habitats, historical resources, and archaeological sites of the 
refuges. To enable the implementation of management activities outlined 
under Alternative C, the refuge volunteer program would more than 
double from current levels and refuge staff would be expanded to 
    Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1903 by 
President Roosevelt ``as a preserve and breeding ground for native 
birds'' through an unnumbered Executive Order. Located across the 
Intracoastal Waterway from Sebastian, Florida, in Indian River County 
in southeastern Florida, the refuge manages over 5,400 acres of 
estuarine, transitional, and upland habitats supporting 14 federally 
listed species and 45 state listed species, as well as a wide variety 
of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, fishes, invertebrates, and 
plants. Although the refuge exists in an increasingly developed 
landscape, it supports key fish spawning sites, a globally important 
juvenile sea turtle habitat, and important bird rookeries. Given its 
location in a transitional zone between subtropical and temperate 
climates, refuge supports highly diverse resident and migratory 
species. Over 600 wildlife species have been confirmed on the refuge 
with hundreds more expected to occur with more extensive surveys. Over 
130 species of birds, over 200 species of fish, and 250 species of 
plants have been confirmed on the refuge.

    Authority: This notice is published under the authority of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, Public Law 

    Dated: January 25, 2005.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
    Editorial Note: This document was received at the Office of the 
Federal Register, July 22, 2005.

[FR Doc. 05-14796 Filed 7-26-05; 8:45 am]