National Wildlife Refuge System

[Federal Register: January 24, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 16)]
[Page 7660-7661]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



Fish and Wildlife Service

Establishment of the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (we) 
approved the establishment of the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife 
Refuge. Palmyra Atoll is a low-lying equatorial atoll in the Pacific 
Ocean that is a collection of islets, coral reefs, and waters that teem 
with wildlife.

DATES: This action was effective on January 18, 2001.

[[Page 7661]]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Charles Houghten with the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, (503) 231-6207.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge 
will enable us to protect approximately 680 acres (275.30 hectares) of 
emergent lands, and approximately 515,232 acres (208,595.95 hectares) 
of submerged lands and associated waters, including approximately 
16,094 acres (6,515.79 hectares) of coral reef habitat. The refuge 
boundary is the extent of the 12-nautical mile territorial sea. 
Privately owned emergent lands will be purchased from willing sellers. 
We will acquire submerged lands through a Secretarial Order 
transferring jurisdiction and control to us from the Office of Insular 
Affairs. The refuge establishment and management will allow us to 
conserve and recover endangered and threatened species, protect 
migratory birds and coral reef habitats, and contribute to the 
maintenance of the rich biological diversity of this remarkable atoll.
    The authority to establish the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife 
Refuge is found in the Endangered Species Act of 1976, as amended (16 
U.S.C. 1531-1544). The transfer of jurisdiction and control of Palmyra, 
including the reefs and territorial waters surrounding the island, from 
the Office of Insular Affairs to the Fish and Wildlife Service will be 
accomplished by a Secretarial Order. We will manage Palmyra Atoll 
National Wildlife Refuge in accordance with the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended (16 U.S.C. 668dd-
    We will, through the establishment of the refuge, establish a 
limited take marine preserve in the waters of the refuge. We will close 
the refuge to commercial fishing but will permit a low level of 
compatible recreational fishing for bonefishing and deep water 
sportfishing under programs that we will carefully manage to ensure 
compatibility with refuge purposes. We will manage the refuge for the 
conservation and management of native species of wildlife and fish and 
their habitats. Wildlife species identified as endangered or threatened 
will receive management priority, with a special emphasis on 
stewardship of endangered and threatened sea turtles, migratory 
seabirds that forage in the refuge waters, the coral reef, and pelagic 
wildlife. Management actions will include protection of the refuge 
waters and wildlife from commercial fishing activities, enhancement of 
the environment through the implementation of navigational guidelines 
and aids to navigation to protect the shallow reefs from maritime 
groundings, periodic monitoring surveys of coral reef environment, and 
periodic clearance of marine debris. Other management programs will 
include scientific research and monitoring.
    In addition to compatible public fishing, we have developed 
opportunities to permit in designated portions of the atoll a limited 
level of compatible wildlife observation (in the form of SCUBA diving 
and snorkeling), environmental education and interpretation, and 
wildlife photography.
    In compliance with our policy and the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347), we distributed a draft 
Environmental Assessment, a draft Land Protection Plan, and a draft 
Conceptual Management Plan for a 30-day public review and comment 
period. We evaluated two alternatives for the protection and management 
of wildlife and habitat.
    Based on the documentation contained in the revised Environmental 
Assessment, Land Protection Plan, and a Conceptual Management Plan, we 
signed a Finding of No Significant Impact on January 17, 2001. The 
Conceptual Management Plan will serve as an interim management plan 
until we develop a Comprehensive Conservation Plan.

    Dated: January 18, 2001.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 01-2149 Filed 1-23-01; 8:45 am]

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