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Under direction of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for the conservation of polar bears, northern sea otters, and Pacific walruses that inhabit Alaskan waters. Our sister agency, National Marine Fisheries Service, is responsible for whales, pinnipeds (e.g. seals and sea lions), and dolphins/porpoises.

--NOTICE: Proposed Incidental Harassment Authorization (Ketchikan, Alaska) Available for Public Comment--

In response to a request from the United States Coast Guard under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to authorize nonlethal, incidental take by harassment of small numbers of the Southeast Alaska stock of northern sea otters between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023. The applicant requested this authorization for take that may result from activities associated with a floating dock expansion project in the Tongass Narrows at the U.S. Coast Guard Base Ketchikan. We estimate that this project may result in the nonlethal incidental take of up to five northern sea otters from the Southeast Alaska stock. This proposed authorization, if finalized, will be for up to 35 takes of 5 northern sea otters by Level B harassment only. No injury or mortality is expected or will be authorized.

The proposed incidental harassment authorization and supporting documents are available for public review and comment at www.regulations.gov, docket number FWS-R7-ES-2021-0168. The public comment period is from June 2, 2022 to July 5, 2022. Once the public comment period closes, we will review all submitted comments prior to making a final determination.

Comments may be submitted electronically or by U.S. Mail. All comments received on a proposed authorization during the comment period will be posted at http://www.regulations.gov. You may request that we withhold personal identifying information from public review; however, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Electronic Submission: Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to the appropriate Docket No.

U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R7-ES-2021-0168, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

The Highlands region spans 3.4 million acres across Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. In an effort to conserve natural resources in this region, the Highlands Conservation Act was passed in 2004, founding the Highlands Conservation Act grant program. This grant program is among the many that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers to help partners conserve an array of plants, fish, wildlife, and their habitats. Grant funding also supports states, non-governmental organizations and other conservation partners working to sustain key landscapes in the Highlands region for the benefit of both people and wildlife.

This iconic landscape is distinguished by Appalachian ridges, hills, and plateaus. It is marked by deciduous and coniferous forests, streams and lakes, and thousands of plant and animal species. It is not only ecologically diverse, but sustains forest management, working farms, nature-oriented recreational opportunities, and clean water for the many people who live in the region.

Since the passage of the Highlands Conservation Act in 2004, $28 million in federal funds, matched by $53 million in non-federal funds, have been awarded to permanently protect 12,766 acres of land. Projects supported by the Highlands Conservation Act grant program are led by state agencies and address lands that support key conservation objectives outlined in the Highlands Conservation Act such as clean drinking water, healthy forests, thriving wildlife populations, productive agriculture, and abundant recreational opportunities.