[Federal Register: May 14, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 94)]
[Page 27842-27844]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Innoko National Wildlife Refuge, McGrath, AK

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

ACTION: Notice of Availability of the Draft Revised Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment for Innoko 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 (Draft CCP) and 
Environmental Assessment (EA) for the southern unit of the Innoko 
National Wildlife Refuge is

[[Page 27843]]

available for public comment. The Draft CCP/EA 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). It describes two alternatives 
for managing the southern unit of the Innoko Refuge for the next 15 
years, including continuing current management. We will use special 
mailings to inform the public of opportunities to provide input on the 
CCP/EA and will hold public meetings in communities near the Refuge 
(Grayling, Anvik, Shageluk, Holly Cross, Kaltag, McGrath, and Takotna).

DATES: Comments on the Draft CCP/EA must be received on or before July 
22, 2008.

ADDRESSES: To provide written comments or to request a paper copy or a 
compact disk of the Draft CCP/EA, contact Rob Campellone, Planning Team 
Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor Rd., MS-231, 
Anchorage, Alaska 99503; telephone: (907) 786-3982; fax: (907) 786-
3965; e-mail: fw7_innoko_planning@fws.gov. You may also view or 
download a copy of the Draft CCP/EA at the following Web site: http://
alaska.fws.gov/nwr/planning/innpol.htm. Copies of the Draft CCP/EA may 
be viewed at the Innoko Refuge Office in McGrath, Alaska, and the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Office in Anchorage, Alaska.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rob Campellone at the address or phone 
number provided above.

U.S.C. 1602 et seq.) requires development of a CCP for all national 
wildlife refuges in Alaska. The Draft CCP/EA for the southern unit of 
the Innoko 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 the Innoko National Wildlife 
Refuge. Refuge boundaries encompass approximately 3.8 million acres of 
which approximately 3.5 million acres (92 percent) are under Service 
jurisdiction. Section 302(3)(B) of ANILCA states that the purposes for 
which Innoko Refuge was established include: (i) To conserve fish and 
wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity; (ii) to 
fulfill international treaty obligations of the United States with 
respect to fish and wildlife and their habitats; (iii) to provide the 
opportunity for continued subsistence use by local residents; and (iv) 
to ensure water quality and necessary water quantity within the refuge. 
A CCP and Environmental Impact Statement were completed for the Innoko 
Refuge in 1987 following direction in Section 304(g) of ANILCA.
    The ANILCA requires us to designate areas according to their 
respective resources and values and to specify programs and uses within 
the areas designated. To meet this requirement, the Alaska Region 
established management categories (wilderness, minimal, moderate, 
intensive, and wild river). Appropriate activities, public uses, 
commercial uses, and facilities are identified for each management 
category. Two management categories (wilderness and minimal) apply to 
the southern unit of the Innoko 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 Innoko CCP/EA meets the requirements of both 
ANILCA and the Refuge Administration Act as amended by the Refuge 
Improvement Act.
    Issues raised during scoping and addressed in the Draft CCP/EA are 
(1) Competition for moose harvesting; (2) management of air taxis to 
balance demand for visitor access with user experience and resource 
protection; (3) threats to water quality from off-refuge mining; (4) 
refuge enhancement of its relationship with local communities; (5) 
monitoring and addressing the effects of climate change; (6) the 
proposed reintroduction of wood bison by the Alaska Department of Fish 
and Game; and (7) ensuring resource protection while providing for 
subsistence and other public uses.
    The Draft CCP/EA describes and evaluates two alternatives for 
managing the southern unit of the Innoko Refuge for the next 15 years. 
These alternatives follow much of the same general management 
direction. Alternative A (the No-Action Alternative) is required under 
NEPA and describes continuation of current management activities. 
Alternative A serves as a baseline against which to compare the other 
alternative. Under Alternative A, management of the southern unit of 
the Innoko Refuge would continue to follow direction described in the 
1987 CCP and record of decision as modified by subsequent program-
specific plans (e.g., fisheries, cultural resources, fire management 
plans). Currently 61 percent of the refuge is in minimal management, 
34.5 percent is designated as Wilderness, and 4.5 percent is in private 
ownership. Alternative A would continue to protect and maintain the 
existing wildlife values, natural diversity, and ecological integrity 
of the refuge. Human disturbances to fish and wildlife habitats and 
populations would be minimal. Private and commercial uses of the refuge 
would not change, and public uses employing existing access methods 
would continue to be allowed. Opportunities to pursue traditional 
subsistence activities, and recreational hunting, fishing, and other 
wildlife dependent activities, would be maintained. Opportunities to 
pursue research would be maintained. Alternative B (the Proposed 
Action) would generally continue to follow management direction 
described in the 1987 CCP and record of decision as modified by 
subsequent program-specific plans, but some of that management 
direction has been updated by changes in policy since the 1987 Innoko 
Refuge CCP was approved. Alternative B identifies these specific 
changes in management direction as well as goals and objectives for 
refuge management.
    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

[[Page 27844]]

to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, 
we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will make all 
comments from individual persons part of the official public record. We 
will handle requests for such comments in accordance with the Freedom 
of Information Act, NEPA, and Departmental policies and procedures.

    Dated: May 8, 2008.
Thomas O. Melius,
Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska.
 [FR Doc. E8-10810 Filed 5-13-08; 8:45 am]