[Federal Register: January 30, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 19)]
[Page 5672-5673]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R7-R-2008-N0253; [70133-1265-0000-S3]

Innoko National Wildlife Refuge, McGrath, AK

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of the revised comprehensive 
conservation plan and finding of no significant impact for 
environmental assessment.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce the 
availability of our Revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and 
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge (Innoko 
Refuge). In this revised CCP, we describe how we will manage this 
Refuge for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the revised CCP and FONSI 
by any of the following methods. You may request a paper copy, a 
summary, or a CD-ROM containing both.
    Agency Web Site: Download a copy of the documents at http://
    E-mail: fw7_innoko_planning@fws.gov. Please include ``Innoko 
Refuge Revised CCP'' in the subject line of the message.
    Mail: Rob Campellone, Planning Team Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 1011 East Tudor Road, MS 231, Anchorage, AK 99503-6199.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call (907) 786-3357 to make an 
appointment during regular business hours at the USFWS Regional Office, 
1011 E. Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503 or call (907) 524-3251 to make 
an appointment during regular business hours at Innoko Refuge, 40 
Tonzona, McGrath, AK 99627.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rob Campellone, Planning Team Leader, 
(907) 786-3357 or fw7_innoko_planning@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for the Innoko 
Refuge. We started this process with a notice of intent in the Federal 
Register (72 FR 8197, Feb. 23, 2007) We announced the availability of 
the draft CCP and EA, and requested comments in a notice of 
availability in the Federal Register (73 FR 27842, May 14, 2008).
    Established by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act 
(94 Stat. 2371) in 1980, Innoko Refuge covers some 3,850,000 acres and 
is one of the most important waterfowl areas in west central interior 
Alaska. Approximately half of the Refuge consists of wetlands set with 
innumerable lakes and ponds of varying size. The remainder is marked by 
hills, most of which are less than one thousand feet in elevation. 
Almost one-third of the Refuge is designated Wilderness. The route of 
the historic Iditarod Trail crosses the Refuge.
    Refuge purposes include (1) conservation of fish and wildlife 
populations and habitats in their natural diversity including, but not 
limited to, waterfowl, peregrine falcons, other migratory birds, black 
bear, moose, furbearers, and other mammals and salmon; (2) fulfilling 
the international treaty obligations of the United States with respect 
to fish and wildlife and their habitats; (3) providing, in a manner 
consistent with purposes (1) and (2) above, the opportunity for 
continued subsistence by local residents; and ensuring, to the maximum 
extent practicable and in a manner consistent with purpose (1) above, 
water quality and necessary water quantity within the Refuge.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the FONSI for the 
revised CCP for Innoko Refuge in accordance with National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) [40 CFR 1506.6(b)] requirements. We completed a 
thorough analysis of impacts on the human environment in the EA that 
accompanied the draft revised CCP.
    The CCP will guide us in managing and administering the Innoko 
Refuge for the next 15 years. The revised CCP is Alternative B, the 
proposed action in the draft CCP, edited slightly in response to public 


    The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (94 
Stat. 2371; ANILCA) and the National Wildlife Refuge system Improvement 
Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) require us to develop a CCP for 
each Alaska refuge. The purpose for developing a CCP is to provide 
refuge managers with a 15-year plan 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 our policies. We will review and 
update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with national 
policy and ANILCA. ANILCA requires us is 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 for refuges including 
Wilderness, Minimal, Moderate, Intensive, and Wild River management. 
For each management category we identified appropriate activities, 
public uses, commercial uses, and facilities. Only Wilderness and 
Minimal management categories are applied to Innoko Refuge.

Draft CCP Alternatives

    Our draft CCP and EA addressed seven issues and evaluated two 
alternatives. The seven significant issues raised during scoping were: 
(1) Competition for moose harvesting; (2) management of air taxis to 

[[Page 5673]]

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 State of Alaska's 
wood bison project; and (7) ensuring resource protection while 
providing for subsistence and other public uses.
    Alternative A (the no-action alternative--a NEPA requirement) 
described what would happen with a continuation of current management 
activities and served as a baseline for comparison of other 
alternative. Under Alternative A, management of the Refuge would 
continue to follow the current course of action as described in the 
1987 Innoko CCP and Record of Decision as modified by subsequent 
program-specific plans. Refuge lands would remain in their present 
management categories.
    Under our selected alternative, Alternative B, Refuge lands would 
continue to be managed in their present management categories. New 
regional policies and guidelines for national wildlife refuges in 
Alaska would be incorporated. The vision, goals, and objectives 
proposed in the draft CCP would be adopted to guide Refuge management.

Comments on the Draft CCP

    Public comments on the draft CCP and EA were solicited from May 14, 
2008 through July 22, 2008. A public meeting was held in McGrath but no 
one attended it. Comments were received from the State of Alaska, three 
conservation organizations, one big-game guide outfitter, and two 
    One individual requested a ban on all hunting, trapping, logging, 
new roads and prescribed burning in the Refuge. The other individual 
recommended that the Refuge Headquarters be moved to Galena. Support 
for the State of Alaska's wood bison project and opposition to future 
subsistence hunting of wood bison was expressed. The outfitter-guide 
expressed concern about management of air taxis and management of 
hunting within the Refuge. Two conservation organizations requested the 
CCP include Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River recommendations. One 
organization provided comments on motorized and mechanized activities, 
climate change, and supported disclosure of information about State of 
Alaska right-of-way claims. One organization provided a number of 
specific comments on access and fisheries enhancement in wilderness. 
The State of Alaska provided technical and editorial comments on wood 
bison, fisheries management, goals and objectives, predator management, 
management policies and guidelines, and draft compatibility 
    No substantive revisions to Alternative B, the proposed action, 
were made as a result of the public comments on the Draft Revised 
Innoko CCP. A number of technical corrections were made in response to 
comments and many of the editorial suggestions provided by the State of 
Alaska were adopted.

    Dated: October 10, 2008.
Thomas O. Melius,
Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska.

    Editorial Note: This document was received in the Office of the 
Federal Register on Tuesday, January 27, 2009.

[FR Doc. E9-2088 Filed 1-29-09; 8:45 am]