[Federal Register: August 22, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 162)]
[Page 47063-47064]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Vieques National Wildlife Refuge

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of the Final Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan and Environmental Impact Statement.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service announces that a Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for 
Vieques National Wildlife Refuge in Puerto Rico is available for 
distribution. The plan was prepared pursuant to the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, and in accordance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and describes how the refuge 
will be managed for the next 15 years. The compatibility determinations 
for wildlife observation, wildlife photography, and environmental 
education and interpretation; bicycling, horseback riding, hiking, 
jogging, and moped/motorcycle riding; and kayaking and canoeing are 
also available in the plan.

DATES: A Record of Decision may be signed on or after September 21, 

ADDRESSES: A copy of the plan and environmental impact statement is 
available on compact diskette or hard copy by writing: Oscar Diaz, 
Refuge Manager, Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 1527, 
Vieques, Puerto Rico 00765. The plan and environmental impact statement 
may also be accessed and downloaded from the Service's Web site 
address: http://www.fws.gov/southeast/planning/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gisella Burgos, Telephone: 787/741-

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The availability of the Draft Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for Vieques 
National Wildlife Refuge for a 60-day public review and comment period 
was announced in the Federal Register on February 28, 2007 (72 FR 
9018). The plan and environmental impact statement identified and 
evaluated three alternatives for managing the refuge over the next 15 
    Alternative A, the ``No Action'' alternative, would have continued 
current management.
    Alternative B would have focused on wildlife and habitat management 
but would have maintained the existing visitor programs and public 
uses. Habitat management and monitoring

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would have been expanded and agreements with research, governmental, 
and non-governmental organizations would have been developed to provide 
information needed for the management of forests, grasslands, coastal 
wetlands, beaches, and listed species and their habitats. In 
partnership with others, programs would have been developed for 
management of nesting sea turtle populations on Vieques beaches.
    Alternative C, the preferred alternative, will direct the refuge 
toward a realistic and achievable level of both habitat management and 
public use and will provide a management program that will address the 
needs of the resources and, where appropriate and compatible with the 
refuge purposes, the needs of the community. This alternative will 
provide for increases in management efforts to restore habitats without 
diminishing the wildlife values associated with the current conditions. 
There is also a focus on management activities to benefit threatened 
and endangered species. This includes the possible reintroduction of 
species extirpated from Vieques and expansion of populations of species 
already found on the refuge. Some priority public uses, as identified 
in the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, will be 
expanded and other uses that are determined to be compatible with the 
refuge mission may be permitted. Historic and archaeological resources 
will be stabilized and, where possible, interpretation of their 
significance and role in the evolution of Vieques Refuge will be 
    Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, consisting of approximately 
17,771 acres (3,100 acres on western Vieques and 14,671 acres on 
eastern Vieques), was created from former Navy managed lands by 
congressional actions in 2001 and 2003. The transferred lands are to be 
managed in accordance with the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act of 1997. The refuge lands were historically used 
for agricultural purposes and more recently for military training 
activities. As a result, the wildlife habitats and communities are 
significantly altered and non-native invasive species are common along 
with remnants of native habitats. As a result of the military training, 
portions of the refuge contain unexploded ordnance and other 
contaminants. These areas have been classified as a ``superfund site'' 
under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and 
Liability Act (CERCLA). Cleanup of these portions of the refuge is 
being conducted by the Navy in accordance with CERCLA. In addition, a 
Federal Facilities Agreement between the Navy, U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Commonwealth of 
Puerto Rico will help to guide the cleanup process.
    Although the short-term use and management of areas contaminated 
with unexploded ordnance would be restricted, the alternatives 
presented were developed with the assumption that these lands would be 
cleaned of any contaminants that would pose a threat to either the 
wildlife or visitors to the refuge.

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

    Dated: June 14, 2007.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
 [FR Doc. E7-16542 Filed 8-21-07; 8:45 am]