[Federal Register: May 17, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 95)]
[Page 27952-27953]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Lehua Island Ecosystem Restoration Project; Joint Federal and 
State of Hawaii Environmental Document

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, this notice 
advises the public that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural

[[Page 27953]]

Resources (DLNR) intend to gather information necessary to prepare a 
joint Federal/State environmental document (environmental assessment or 
environmental impact statement) for the proposed Lehua Island Ecosystem 
Restoration Project. The United States Coast Guard, the owner of Lehua 
Island, intends to become a cooperating agency with us, for the 
purposes of preparing the environmental document. This document will 
address the proposal of eradicating non-native rodents and possibly 
non-native rabbits from Lehua as a means of restoring native seabirds, 
insects and coastal plants, some of which are threatened with 
extinction. In addition, the Service and the DLNR propose to implement 
preventative actions to keep non-native mammals from re-establishing on 
Lehua, and respond to any such re-introductions. The proposed project 
would take place on the island of Lehua, Kauai County, Hawaii and would 
be managed by the Service in cooperation with the DLNR.
    The Service is furnishing this notice in order to: (1) Advise other 
Federal and State agencies, affected tribes, and the public of our 
intentions; (2) announce the initiation of a 40-day public scoping 
period; and (3) to obtain suggestions and information on the scope of 
issues to be included in the environmental document.

DATES: Written comments from all interested parties must be postmarked 
by 40 days from the date of publication. A public meeting is scheduled 
to be held in Lihue, Kauai on Wednesday June 9, 2004, at the Lihue 
Neighborhood Center from 7-9 p.m.

ADDRESSES: Please address comments and requests to be added to the 
mailing list to Chris Swenson, Project Biologist, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Honolulu, Hawaii 
96850, facsimile: (808) 792-9580.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Project Biologists Chris Swenson or 
Katie Swift at the above address or telephone: (808) 792-9400.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Lehua Island, located approximately 31 
kilometers west of Kauai, Hawaii, is known for its beauty and 
biological diversity. Seventeen species of seabirds have been recorded 
from Lehua, including nesting Laysan and Black-Footed Albatross, and 
Newell's Shearwaters, a species listed as threatened under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. Lehua, a designated State 
seabird sanctuary, is also home to several species of native coastal 
plants and insects. However, non-native rats are also present on the 
island. Rats impact seabirds through predation and are known to have 
eliminated many seabird species from islands around the world. They 
also feed on native plants and insects and can suppress or eliminate 
many of these species as well. In addition, non-native rabbits were 
introduced to Lehua during or before the 1930s. On many islands, 
rabbits have decimated the vegetation and even competed with seabirds 
for use of burrows. After conducting biological surveys of Lehua and a 
careful examination of known impacts of rats and rabbits on island 
ecosystems, Service and DLNR biologists, in consultation with other 
experts, have concluded that the proposed eradication of rodents and 
rabbits is a prudent management action. Successful eradication would 
allow re-colonization and restoration of several species of plants and 
seabirds on Lehua. Following the proposed eradication, there could 
still be a threat of re-introduction of non-native mammals from 
grounded vessels and transport of people and materials to the island. 
Service and DLNR wildlife managers are proposing to have the capability 
to respond rapidly to any such introductions.
    The Service is engaging in the proposed Lehua restoration project 
under the management authorities granted it by the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973 as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544), the Migratory Bird Treaty 
Act of 1918 as amended (16 U.S.C. 703-712) and the Fish and Wildlife 
Act of 1956 as amended (16 U.S.C. 742a-742j, not including 742 d-l). 
The DLNR is engaging in this project under the authorities of Hawaii 
Revised Statutes 183D-4 and 195D-5, which authorize it to manage 
wildlife sanctuaries and to manage and protect indigenous and 
endangered species and their associated ecosystems.
    The Service and the DLNR are proposing to conduct an environmental 
review of the Lehua Island Ecosystem Restoration Project and prepare a 
joint Federal/State environmental document for impacts related to the 
ecosystem and the human environment. Alternatives for eradication may 
include the following methods or a combination of these methods: aerial 
broadcast of bait pellets containing rodenticides, hand broadcast of 
rodenticide pellets and/or placing rodenticides in bait stations for 
rat eradication; and shooting and/or trapping for rabbit eradication. 
Eradications could potentially be followed by monitoring the success of 
the removal actions and the response of native biota to alien species 
    The environmental review will analyze the Lehua Island Ecosystem 
Restoration Project, as well as a full range of reasonable 
alternatives, and the associated impacts of each alternative. Should 
information become available during the scoping process that indicates 
the likelihood of significant environmental impacts from the Lehua 
Island Ecosystem Restoration Project, the Service will proceed with 
preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). Otherwise, an 
environmental assessment will be prepared to determine whether an EIS 
is needed.
    The Service and the DLNR are requesting written comments regarding 
the proposed action from interested individuals, organizations and 
agencies. Respondents should address concerns regarding potential 
environmental impacts to the human environment, applicable mitigation 
and reasonable alternatives they feel could be included in the 
environmental analysis. Additional information, including the time and 
location of the public meeting, any changes to the project scope, and 
availability of draft documents for review will be sent out via local 
and regional press releases and direct mailings.
    The environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), National 
Environmental Policy Act Regulations 40 CFR (1500-1508), other 
appropriate Federal laws and regulations, and policies and procedures 
of the Service for compliance with those regulations.

    Dated: April 15, 2004.
Carolyn A. Bohan,
Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, Portland, 
[FR Doc. 04-11075 Filed 5-14-04; 8:45 am]