Various laws and regulations define the authority and responsibility for the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to preserve and enhance air quality and other air quality related values in Class I Wilderness Areas. The Branch of Air Quality (BAQ) staff provides information and expertise to refuges, governmental agencies and others in carrying out these responsibilities.
Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Federal Land Manager and the Federal official with direct responsibility for management of Federal Class I parks and wilderness areas (i.e. Refuge manager) have an affirmative responsibility to protect the air quality related values of such lands. Congress gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the responsibility to protect air quality and the natural resources, including visibility, of the area from man made air pollution. Two major CAA regulatory programs that FWS has active responsibilities for include:
In 1997, President Clinton signed the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997. The Act amends the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966. It was passed to ensure that the Refuge System is managed as a national system of related lands, waters, and interests for the protection and conservation of our Nation's wildlife resources.
The major components include:
Approved in 1964, directed the Secretary of the Interior to review every roadless area of 5,000 or more acres and every roadless island within National Wildlife Refuge and National Park Systems and recommend to the President the suitability of each are for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. Under this Act 6 million acres in 65 units were established as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. In addition to the establishment of new wilderness areas, the act protected air quality related values within Wilderness areas. The protection is meant to be the benefit of the American people as Wilderness areas are meant to be unimpaired for future use and enjoyment by the people. The Fish and Wildlife Service responsibility is to ensure that those wilderness areas can be enjoyed by future generations.
The Federal Land Manager's Air Quality Related Values Work Group (FLAG) formed to develop a more consistent approach for the Federal Land Managers (FLM) to evaluate air pollution effects on resources. The primary -but not sole- focus of FLAG is the New Source Review (NSR) program, especially in the review of Prevention of Significatn Deterioration (PSD) of air quality permit applications. The goals of FLAG have been to provide consistent polices and processes both for identifying air quality related values (AQRVs) and for evaluaing the effects of air pollution on AQRVs, primarily in Federal Class I air quality areas, but also in some instances, in other national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, and national monuments. Federal Class I areas are defined in the Clean Air Act as national parks over 6,000 acres and wilderness area and memorial parks over 5,000 acres, established as of 1977. All other FLM areas are designated Class II. To find out more about the FLAG report. more>>