[Federal Register: October 3, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 191)]
[Page 56371-56372]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, Tok, AK

AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability of the Draft Revised Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment for Tetlin National 
Wildlife Refuge; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service, we), announce 
that the Draft Revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and 
Environmental Assessment (EA) for Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge is 
available for public comment. The Draft CCP was prepared pursuant to 
the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (ANILCA), 
the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (Refuge 
Administration Act) as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997 (Refuge Improvement Act), and the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Three alternatives for 
management of Tetlin Refuge over the next 15 years, including 
continuing current management, are considered in the Draft Conservation 

DATES: Comments on the Draft Conservation Plan must be received on or 
before January 18, 2008.

ADDRESSES: To provide written comments or to request a paper copy or a 
compact disk of the Draft CCP, contact Mikel Haase, Planning Team 
Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor Rd., MS-231, 
Anchorage, Alaska 99503; telephone: (907) 786-3402; fax: (907) 786-
3965; e-mail: fw7_tetlin_planning@fws.gov. You may also view or 
download a copy of the Draft CCP at the following Web site: http://alaska.fws.gov/nwr/planning/tetpol.htm.
 Copies of the Draft CCP may be 

viewed at the Tetlin Refuge Office in Tok, Alaska; local area 
libraries, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Office in 
Anchorage, Alaska.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT: Mikel Haase at the above address or 
phone number.

U.S.C. 1602 et seq.) requires development of a CCP for all national 
wildlife refuges in Alaska. The Draft CCP for Tetlin Refuge was 
developed consistent with section 304(g) of ANILCA and the Refuge 
Administration Act as amended by the Refuge Improvement Act (16 U.S.C. 
668dd et seq.). The purpose of developing CCPs is to provide refuge 
managers with a 15-year management strategy for achieving refuge 
purposes and contributing toward the mission of the National Wildlife 
Refuge System, consistent with sound principles of fish, wildlife, and 
habitat management and conservation; legal mandates; and Service 
policies. Plans define long-term goals and objectives toward which 
refuge management activities are directed and identify which uses may 
be compatible with the purposes of the refuge. They identify wildlife-
dependent recreation opportunities available to the public, including 
hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. Comprehensive conservation 
plans are updated in accordance with planning direction in section 
304(g) of ANILCA and with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).
    Background: In 1980, ANILCA designated Tetlin National Wildlife 
Refuge. Refuge boundaries encompass approximately 935,000 acres of 
which approximately 693,000 acres (74 percent) are under Service 
jurisdiction. Section 302(8)(B) of ANILCA states that the purposes for 
which Tetlin Refuge was established include: to conserve fish and 
wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity; to 
fulfill international treaty obligations of the United States with 
respect to fish and wildlife and their habitats; to provide the 
opportunity for continued subsistence use by local residents; to ensure 
water quality and necessary water quantity within the refuge; and to 
provide opportunities for interpretation and environmental education.
    The original Tetlin CCP was completed in 1987 following direction 
in Section 304(g) of ANILCA. Management categories (wilderness, wild 
rivers, minimal, moderate, and intensive) are used to describe 
management levels throughout the refuges in Alaska. A management 
category is a set of refuge management directions applied to an area, 
in light of its resources and existing and potential uses, to 
facilitate management and the accomplishment of refuge purposes and 
goals. Three management categories (minimal, moderate, and intensive) 
apply to Tetlin Refuge. The 1997 Refuge Improvement Act includes 
additional direction for conservation planning throughout the National 
Wildlife Refuge System. This direction has been incorporated into 
national planning policy for the National Wildlife Refuge System, 
including refuges in Alaska. This draft revision of the Tetlin 
conservation plan meets the requirements of both ANILCA and the Refuge 
Improvement Act.
    Issues raised during scoping and addressed in this Draft CCP are: 
(1) The visitor services role of Tetlin Refuge in the upper Tanana 
Valley; (2) refuge role in providing opportunities for access to, and 
associated facilities for, existing and expanding wildlife-dependent 
uses of the refuge; (3) management of fire on Tetlin Refuge to provide 
adequate protection of refuge resources and private property within and 
adjacent to the refuge; (4) use of prescribed fire as a method of 
habitat management; and (5) use of fishery management actions to 
maintain native fish breeding stocks and enhance recreational fishing.
    This Draft CCP describes and evaluates three alternatives for 
managing Tetlin Refuge for the next 15 years. These alternatives follow 
the same general management direction but provide different levels of 
development and different ways of addressing the issues.
    Alternative A (Current Management): Management of Tetlin Refuge 
would continue to follow the 1987 CCP and record of decision as 
modified by subsequent program-specific plans (e.g., fisheries, public 
use, and fire management plans). Private and commercial uses of the 
refuge would continue at current levels. Refuge management would 
continue to reflect existing laws, executive orders, regulations, and 
policies governing Service administration and operation of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System. The refuge would continue to coordinate with 
partners to maintain the refuge's role as a key participant and 
provider of environmental education, interpretation, and recreation in 
the upper Tanana Valley. The refuge would maintain or increase existing 
opportunities for compatible public use of the refuge. Facilities, such 
as interpretive and hiking trails, boat

[[Page 56372]]

launches, highway pullouts, and campgrounds, would be upgraded or new 
facilities would be constructed to promote day use and interpretive 
opportunities along the Alaska Highway as described in the Refuge's 
Public Use Management Plan. Other public use opportunities on the 
refuge, including canoeing, hiking, environmental education and 
interpretation, and public use of administrative cabins, would be 
promoted. The refuge would continue to protect resources and property 
and to meet habitat management objectives by treating a fixed number of 
acres annually through a variety of fire management techniques 
including prescribed burning, suppression, thinning, and wildland fire 
use to maintain and enhance habitat for particular wildlife species. 
The refuge would work with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to 
reintroduce native fish populations to selected waters throughout the 
refuge; to manage populations to maintain breeding stock; and to 
develop additional put-and-take fisheries within the refuge along the 
Alaska Highway. Refuge lands would continue to be managed under Minimal 
(approximately 577,500 acres), Moderate (approximately 121,500 acres), 
and Intensive (1,640 acres) management categories; approximately 40 
acres at the Seaton Roadhouse site would be reclassified from Minimal 
Management to Moderate Management to allow facilities development and 
increased wildlife-dependent public use.
    Alternative B (Preferred Alternative): Management of Tetlin Refuge 
would generally continue to follow the 1987 CCP and record of decision 
as modified by subsequent program-specific plans. Refuge management 
would continue to reflect existing laws, executive orders, regulations, 
and policies governing Service administration and operation of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System. Along with the actions described under 
Alternative A, the refuge would work with the local community to seek 
formal recognition of Tok as a ``Gateway Community'' and to increase 
opportunities for environmental education, interpretation, and 
recreation off-refuge and in support of or in conjunction with refuge 
programs. Opportunities for current and new public use would be 
promoted (e.g., canoe routes established). Existing public use 
facilities would be upgraded and new facilities (e.g., hiking trails, 
restrooms at highway pullouts) would be constructed. The refuge would 
continue to protect resources and property using a variety of fire 
management techniques including prescribed burning, suppression, 
thinning, and wildland fire use. The refuge would emphasize the use of 
natural fire with prescribed burns based only on specific project 
objectives (e.g. fuels reduction, habitat protection, or fire effects 
research) and suppression to reduce potential for large-scale wildfires 
and to maintain long-term ecological health of refuge lands. Natural 
fire would be used as the primary tool to maintain and enhance habitat. 
All native fisheries would be managed to maintain self-sustaining, 
healthy populations to contribute to natural diversity in the region; 
any reintroductions would be based on historic distribution of fish. 
Refuge lands would continue to be managed in the same management 
categories as under Alternative A.
    Alternative C: Management of Tetlin Refuge would generally continue 
to follow the 1987 CCP and record of decision as modified by subsequent 
program-specific plans. Refuge management would continue to reflect 
existing laws, executive orders, regulations, and policies governing 
Service administration and operation of the National Wildlife Refuge 
System. Along with the actions described under Alternatives A and B, 
the refuge would pursue the following additional management actions 
under Alternative C. In addition to establishing Tok as a ``Gateway 
Community,'' this alternative would establish Tetlin Refuge as the 
leader in interpretation of the region by expanding the refuge 
interpretive program and establishing partnerships to expand 
educational and interpretive programs throughout the area. Alternative 
C would include construction of additional interpretive kiosks, 
wildlife viewing platforms, and photography blinds at selected pullouts 
along the Alaska Highway, construction of an additional 15 to 20 miles 
of hiking trails, and construction or marking of additional routes for 
a variety of other year-round compatible uses. Additional public use 
cabins would be constructed to provide more options for access to 
refuge backcountry on a year-round basis. A fee system would be 
established at some campgrounds to support additional amenities (e.g., 
potable water, electricity, sewage dump stations, more campsites, and 
hard-surface roads for year-round access). The refuge would establish 
parking areas and improve access to undeveloped boat launches, trails, 
and other points of access to the refuge, and would identify camping 
locations and mark and maintain portages on the canoe trails. Fire 
suppression would be the primary tool to protect resources and property 
throughout the refuge, though small-scale prescribed burns would be 
used to meet specific fuel reduction objectives near resources or 
properties at risk. Fire would not be used to maintain or enhance 
wildlife habitat. Fisheries management would be the same as in 
Alternative B. Refuge lands would continue to be managed in the same 
management categories as under Alternative A.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, 
or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should 
be aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Dated: September 27, 2007.
Thomas O. Melius,
Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska.
[FR Doc. E7-19493 Filed 10-2-07; 8:45 am]