[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 83 (Friday, April 29, 2011)]
[Pages 24047-24048]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-10135]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-R-2011-N060; 1265-0000-10137-S3]

Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Pacific Island 
Territory; Nonnative Rat Eradication Project, Final Environmental 
Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) 
nonnative rat eradication project final environmental impact statement 
(FEIS). In the FEIS we describe a range of alternatives for eliminating 
nonnative rats from Palmyra Atoll (Atoll). We are publishing this 
notice to inform the public of the proposed action and to announce the 
availability of the FEIS.

DATES: A Record of Decision will be signed no sooner than 30 days after 
the publication of the Environmental Protection Agency notice 
announcing the same FEIS.

ADDRESSES: The FEIS is available on our Web site: http://www.fws.gov/palmyraatoll/rainforestrestoration.html. A limited number of CD-ROM and 
printed copies are also available. You may request a copy by any of the 
following methods.
    E-mail: pacific_reefs@fws.gov. Include ``Palmyra rat project'' in 
the subject line.
    Fax: Attn: Susan White, 808-792-9586.
    U.S. Mail: Pacific Reefs National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 300 Ala 
Moana Blvd., Room 5-231, Honolulu, HI 96850.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan White, (808) 792-9553.



    With this notice we continue the public involvement process in 
accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.), as amended, and implementing regulations. We prepared 
the FEIS in accordance with NEPA and the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Administration Act of 1966 as amended by the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Refuge 
Administration Act); and Service regulations and policies. The Refuge 
Administration Act requires each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge 
System to be managed to achieve its establishing purposes.
    The Atoll is located in the Pacific Ocean, approximately halfway 
between Hawai`i and American Samoa. It consists of a circular string of 
50 islets nestled among several lagoons and encircled by 15,000 acres 
of shallow reefs and submerged reefs. Nonnative invasive rats are 
damaging the Atoll's environment. Through our FEIS we are proposing to 
restore and protect native species and habitats by eradicating rats. In 
the FEIS we recommend applying a lethal dose of rodenticide to every 
rat on the Atoll, in a manner that minimizes harm to the ecosystem and 
upholds a high probability of success.

Public Involvement

    We conducted public scoping for the draft environmental impact 
statement (DEIS) from January 14 to March 1, 2010. During that time we 
requested public comments through the Federal Register (75 FR 2158; 
January 14, 2010) and on our Web site (see ADDRESSES). The comments we 
received covered topics such as threats to nontarget species, our 
proposed selection of the rodenticide brodifacoum over diphacinone, and 
effects to other Refuge operations. We considered and evaluated these 
comments, and incorporated them into the various alternatives 
identified in the DEIS.
    We distributed copies of the DEIS, posted it on our Web site (see 
ADDRESSES), and held a public comment period from February 25 to April 
11, 2011 (76 FR 10621; February 25, 2011). During the public comment 
period, we received comments regarding strong support for and strong 
opposition to rat eradication, threats to nontarget species, our 
proposed selection of the rodenticide brodifacoum over diphacinone, 
effects to other Refuge operations, and implementation strategies. The 
comments we received and our responses are presented in the FEIS.

FEIS Alternatives

    We present four alternatives in the FEIS. Alternative A is our no 
action alternative, and Alternatives B, C, and D, are our action 
alternatives. In all of the action alternatives, we propose using 
rodenticide bait pellets containing the anticoagulant brodifacoum 
(0.0025 percent active ingredient) to eradicate rats from the Atoll. In 
Alternative B, we propose broadcasting brodifacoum aerially; in 
Alternative C, our preferred alternative, we propose broadcasting 
brodifacoum aerially and mitigating risks to vulnerable shorebirds; and 
in Alternative D, we propose using brodifacoum bait stations and canopy 
baiting. In order to be retained for consideration, our action 
alternatives had to: (1) Have a high likelihood of success; (2) have an 
acceptably low probability for adverse effects on populations of 
nontarget species and the environment; and (3) be allowed under 
regulations governing the Refuge. The potential impacts of each 
alternative were assessed, and, where appropriate, mitigation measures 
were applied to avoid impacts or reduce their magnitude and intensity.
    Under Alternative A, no new actions to eradicate rats would be 
implemented and they would continue to harm the Atoll's environment.
    Under Alternatives B and C we would use a helicopter with a 
specialized bucket to broadcast brodifacoum bait pellets aerially. The 
bucket would deliver the bait at the appropriate rate and in a 
directional manner to all potential rat territories within a short 
operational period. Special measures to prevent the bait from entering 
the water would include hand broadcasting on narrow strands of land and 
tiny islands, and installing bait packets in canopy trees overhanging 
the water. In addition, under Alternative C, we would manage

[[Page 24048]]

shorebirds proactively to minimize their exposure to the rodenticide.
    Under Alternative D, we would place bait stations containing 
brodifacoum bait pellets throughout the entire Atoll and maintain them 
until all rats are removed (or 2 years). Bait stations are box shaped 
enclosures with small entryways designed to attract rodents but be 
difficult for other species such as birds and land crabs to navigate. 
Bait stations reduce the amount of bait that is introduced to the 
ecosystem and the risk of exposing nontarget species to rodenticide. 
Bait stations designed for the Atoll would exclude shorebirds and land 
crabs, and allow easy access for rats.
    The FEIS is intended to accomplish the following: (1) Inform the 
public of the proposed action and alternatives; (2) Address public 
comments received during the public comment periods; (3) Disclose the 
direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental effects of the proposed 
action and each of the alternatives; and (4) Indicate any irreversible 
commitment of resources that would result from project implementation. 
A Record of Decision stating which alternative the Service has selected 
for implementation will not be issued earlier than 30 days after the 
Environmental Protection Agency notice.

    Dated: April 8, 2011.
Robyn Thorson,
Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2011-10135 Filed 4-28-11; 8:45 am]