[Federal Register: February 19, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 33)]
[Page 7788-7789]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of Draft Revised Comprehensive 
Conservation Plan for the Alaska Peninsula and Becharof National 
Wildlife Refuges

AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces that a Draft 
Revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan (Draft Conservation Plan) and 
Environmental Impact Statement for the Alaska Peninsula and Becharof 
National Wildlife Refuges is available for review and comment. This 
Draft Conservation Plan was prepared pursuant to the Alaska National 
Interest Lands Conservation Act, the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act of 1997, and the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969. It describes how the Service intends to manage these 
Refuges over the next 15 years.

DATES: Please submit comments on the Draft Conservation Plan and 
Environmental Impact Statement on or before April 19, 2004.

ADDRESSES: A copy of the Draft Conservation Plan is available on 
compact diskette or hard copy, and you may obtain a copy by writing to: 
Peter Wikoff, Planning Team Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
1011 East Tudor Road, MS 231, Anchorage, AK 99503. You may also access 
or download copies of the Draft Conservation Plan at the following Web 
site address: http://alaska.fws.gov/planning. Comments may be sent to 

the above address or to: fw7_apb_planning@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Wikoff, 907-786-3837.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Alaska National Interest Lands 
Conservation Act (ANILCA) requires a conservation plan for all refuges 
in Alaska. We developed this Draft Conservation Plan consistent with 
section 304(g) of ANILCA and the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act of 1997. The purpose in developing conservation 
plans is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year strategy for 
achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward the mission of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System, consistent with sound principles of 
fish and wildlife science, conservation, legal mandates, and Service 
policies. In addition to outlining broad management direction on 
conserving wildlife and their habitats, the conservation plans identify 
wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, 
including opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will 
review and update these plans in accordance with planning direction in 
Sec.  304(g) of ANILCA and the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370d).
    Background: The Draft Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact 
Statement is a revision of plans which were adopted in 1985 and 1987. 
It combines plans for the Becharof NWR and portions of the Alaska 
Peninsula and Alaska Maritime NWRs, which are managed jointly as the 
Alaska Peninsula and Becharof National Wildlife Refuges. This draft 
plan provides broad general direction for managing the Refuges for the 
next 15 years and contains the vision, goals, and objectives of the 
Refuges. Except for alternative ways of addressing the issues, this 
plan substantially follows the direction of the original plans. 
Traditional means of access and uses of the Refuges would be maintained 
under all alternatives.
    The Alaska Peninsula and Becharof National Wildlife Refuges are 
comprised of the Becharof NWR, the Ugashik and Chignik Units of the 
Alaska Peninsula NWR, and the Seal Cape Unit of the Alaska Maritime 
NWR. The Refuges encompass approximately 4,240,000 acres along the 
Pacific side of the Alaska Peninsula, starting about 10 miles south of 
the Refuge headquarters in King Salmon and extending for approximately 
250 miles.

[[Page 7789]]

    The Alaska Peninsula is a land of towering mountains, active 
volcanoes, broad valleys, fjords, tundra, and glacially formed lakes. 
From the coastal lowlands on the Bristol Bay side of the Refuges the 
land rises to steep glaciated mountains and volcanoes, and then plunges 
to cliffs and sandy beaches on the Pacific side. The Bristol Bay side 
of the Refuges consists primarily of rolling moist to wet tundra, 
lakes, and wetlands. The snow-covered, heavily glaciated Aleutian 
Mountain Range bisects the Refuges with volcanic peaks rising to more 
than 8,200 feet. The Pacific coastline is rugged with sea cliffs rising 
hundreds of feet from the water. Numerous streams and several large 
rivers originate within the Refuges.
    The Becharof National Wildlife Refuge contains the 300,000-acre 
Becharof Lake, the second largest lake in Alaska, and the 503,000-acre 
Becharof Wilderness Area. Mt. Peulik, a 4,800-foot volcano with lava 
flows reaching to Becharof Lake is a prominent landmark.
    The Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge contains the 
culturally and economically important Ugashik Lakes. The area around 
Mother Goose Lake provides important habitat for moose and a number of 
bird species. Volcanoes have been active in the recent past. Mt. 
Veniaminof, a stratovolcano with a base 30 miles in diameter and a 
summit crater 20 miles in circumference, last erupted from 1993 to 
1995. Mt. Veniaminof has the most extensive crater glacier in the 
United States and is the only known glacier on the continent with an 
active volcanic vent in its center. The 800,000-acre Mt. Veniaminof 
National Natural Landmark recognizes the unique qualities of this area.
    The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge includes Federally-
owned islands, sea stacks, columns, islets, and rocks off the coast of 
Alaska. Seal Cape, a 9,900-acre headland, is the only part of the 
Alaska Maritime Refuge included in this Draft Conservation Plan. Narrow 
bays cut Seal Cape into two main arms which rise to peaks of more than 
2,000 feet.
    More than 2,000 people live in 12 communities located near the 
Refuges. The region is characterized by a mixed cash-subsistence 
economy. The cash economy is dominated by commercial fishing, tourism, 
and government employment. The Refuges sustain nearly 1,500 local jobs 
and contribute $70 million in income annually to the local economy, 
nearly all through supporting the commercial fishery by providing 
salmon spawning and rearing habitat.
    Issues raised during scoping and addressed in this Draft Revised 
Conservation Plan are: (1) Access to remote and sensitive areas; and 
(2) conflicts between Refuge user groups.
    This Draft Revised Conservation Plan identifies and evaluates three 
alternatives for managing the Refuges for the next 15 years. These 
alternatives follow the same general management direction but provide 
different ways of addressing the issues.
    Alternative 1: No Action: Management of the Refuges would continue 
to follow the current course of action as identified and described in 
the existing plans and Records of Decision for these Refuges. The 
ranges and intensities of management activities would be maintained. 
Private and commercial uses of the Refuges would be unchanged. Refuge 
management would continue to reflect existing laws, executive orders, 
regulations, and policies governing Service administration and 
operation of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Helicopter landings 
for recreational purposes may be allowed outside of designated 
Wilderness on a case-by-case basis.
    Alternative 2: There would be no changes in the way lands are 
managed or in how the public can access the Refuges. Research and 
monitoring provide clearer goals and objectives for increasing our 
knowledge of wildlife and habitat needs and relationships. Public use 
monitoring would facilitate wildlife dependent recreation, subsistence, 
and other traditional uses. Helicopter landings for recreational 
purposes would not be allowed in sensitive resource areas, at sensitive 
times, or where remoteness was a primary quality of the area. Landings 
could be considered in other areas. The Service would develop a process 
for identifying sensitive areas, in cooperation with the State of 
Alaska and other interested parties.
    Alternative 3: Preferred Alternative: Research and monitoring 
provide clearer goals and objectives for increasing our knowledge of 
wildlife and habitat needs and relationships. Public use monitoring 
would provide clearer goals for facilitating wildlife dependent 
recreation, subsistence, and other traditional uses. Helicopter 
landings for recreational access would not be allowed. The boundary of 
the Yantarni Bay Moderate Management Area would be adjusted to coincide 
with geographically identifiable features while maintaining off-road 
vehicle (ORV) trails and areas of moderate use.
    Comment Period: Sixty (60) days from date of publication of this 
    Public Meetings: Meetings will be held in villages near the Refuges 
and in Anchorage. Dates to be determined by weather and logistics.
    Availability of Documents: Copies of this Draft Revised 
Conservation Plan may be obtained by writing to the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Attention: Peter Wikoff, 1011 East Tudor Road, MS 
231, Anchorage, AK 99503; telephone (907) 786-3837; fax (907) 786-3965; 
or e-mail peter_wikoff@fws.gov. Copies of the Draft Conservation Plan 
may be viewed at the Refuge Office in King Salmon, Alaska, local 
libraries, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Office, 
Anchorage, Alaska. The Draft Conservation Plan is available online at 

    Your Comments: Comments may be addressed to Peter Wikoff, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor Road, MS 231, Anchorage, AK 99503 
or fw7_apb_planning@fws.gov.

    Dated: January 9, 2004.
Rowan W. Gould,
Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska.
[FR Doc. 04-3592 Filed 2-18-04; 8:45 am]