[Federal Register: July 15, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 135)]
[Page 41054-41055]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Final Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for Maine Coastal Islands 
National Wildlife Refuge

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

ACTION: Notice of availability of the Final Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for Maine Coastal Islands 
National Wildlife Refuge (NWR)(formerly Petit Manan National Wildlife 
Refuge Complex).


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces that 
the Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS) for Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife 
Refuge (NWR) are available for review. The Final CCP and EIS were 
prepared pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration 
Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 6688dd et seq.), and the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The CCP describes how the Service 
intends to manage the refuge over the next 15 years.

DATES: A Record of Decision may be signed no sooner than 30 days after 
publication of this notice (40 CFR 1506.10(b)(2)).

ADDRESSES: Copies of the Final CCP or EIS, including Appendix I 
(Summary of Public Comments and Service Responses), are available by 
contacting Charles Blair, Refuge Manager, Maine Coastal Islands NWR, 
P.O. Box 279, Water Street, Milbridge, Maine 04658-0279, or by e-
mailing petitmanan@fws.gov. The Final CCP and EIS are also available 
for viewing and downloading online at the following Web site: http://library.fws.gov/ccps.htm

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Charles Blair, Refuge Manager, at the 
above street and e-mail address, or via telephone at (207) 546-2124, or 
fax at (207) 546-7805.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act of 1997, requires the Service to develop a CCP 
for each refuge. The purpose of developing a CCP 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, natural 
resources conservation, legal mandates, and Service policies. In 
addition to outlining broad management direction on conserving wildlife 
and habitats, a CCP identifies wildlife-dependent recreational 
opportunities available to the public, including opportunities for 
hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. The CCP will be

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reviewed and updated at least every 15 years in accordance with the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, and the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
    The Maine Coastal Islands NWR is located within the Gulf of Maine, 
with landholdings along the entire Maine coast. The refuge is a complex 
of five individual refuge units including: Petit Manan, Cross Island, 
Seal Island, Franklin Island, and Pond Island NWRs. It protects 
nationally-significant islands with nesting habitat for Federal- and 
State-listed species, and other native wildlife of high conservation 
concern, such as roseate tern, bald eagle, Atlantic puffin, common 
tern, Arctic tern, and razorbills. Its mainland divisions protect 
wetlands and other important habitats valuable to migratory birds of 
conservation concern, including waterfowl, shorebirds, and Neotropical 
    The proposed action is to adopt and implement a CCP that best 
achieves the purposes for which the refuge was established; furthers 
its vision and goals; contributes to the mission of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System; addresses significant issues and applicable 
mandates; and is consistent with principals of sound fish and wildlife 
management. Implementing the CCP will enable the refuge to fulfill its 
critical role in the conservation and management of fish and wildlife 
resources in the Gulf of Maine, including the protection of nationally-
significant coastal islands, and to provide high quality environmental 
education and wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities for refuge 
visitors. The Service analyzed four alternatives for future management 
of the refuge; of these, Alternative B has been identified as the 
Service's preferred alternative.
    Alternative B, modified from the Draft CCP/EIS, would provide a 
refuge boundary expansion and improve the diversity and depth of 
management for natural resources and recreational opportunities. 
Selecting this alternative would expand the Petit Manan NWR by 2,459.7 
acres beyond the current approved boundary. The expansion is comprised 
of 87 nationally significant seabird, wading bird, or bald eagle 
coastal nesting islands (2,306.4 acres) and 2 mainland tracts (153.3 
acres) of wetlands important for waterfowl and migrating shorebirds. 
Alternative B would add six new seabird restoration projects to our 
present six, and intensify the focus of our biological programs on 
birds of high conservation priority in the Gulf of Maine. It would 
increase opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation, especially in 
our environmental education and interpretation programs, build new 
trails on the Gouldsboro Bay, Sawyers Marsh, and Corea Heath divisions, 
and open the Petit Manan Point Division for deer hunting. Alternative B 
would also recommend that 13 NWR islands in 8 wilderness study areas be 
included in the National Wilderness Preservation System. Refuge 
staffing and budgets would increase commensurately with expanded 
programs. We recommend Alternative B for approval. The following are 
four important changes made between our Draft and Final CCP and EIS:
    1. We propose changing the name of the entire refuge complex to 
``Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge''. We will use this 
name for outreach and administrative purposes when we are referring to 
the five refuges collectively. It does not change the name or status of 
the five individual refuge units.
    2. We clarify our deer hunting proposal on the Petit Manan Point 
Division because the Draft CCP/EIS did not stipulate which areas or 
seasons would be opened. We propose opening the deer hunt to: (a) 
hunters with disabilities during the regular rifle season, and (b) 
hunters of all abilities during the regular muzzle-loader season. The 
hunting area will lie in the northern half of the division, above the 
entrance road, in the Birch Point Trail area.
    3. We propose changing the wilderness study area (WSA) boundaries 
to exclude all private lands and all existing rights-of-way granted to 
private inholders on Cross and Bois Bubert islands, and Lily Lake and 
the common boat landing on Bois Bubert Island. All WSA boundaries will 
be defined by the mean high water mark surrounding the islands. 
(Appendix D, ``Wilderness Inventory and Study'', includes those 
    4. We propose to exclude an 8-acre tract on Wood Island from our 
expansion proposal. The tract is owned by the Coast Guard and includes 
an historic lighthouse. The Coast Guard requested we exclude this 
tract, which is under a licensing agreement with the American 
Lighthouse Foundation for repair, maintenance, and historic 
preservation. (Appendix A, ``Land Protection Plan'', includes this 
    Public comments were requested, considered and incorporated 
throughout the planning process in numerous ways. Public outreach has 
included open houses, public meetings, technical workgroups, planning 
update mailings, and Federal Register notices. Three previous notices 
were published in the Federal Register concerning the development of 
this CCP/EIS (60 FR 52008, October 4, 1995; 64 FR 70723, December 17, 
1999; 69 FR 23803, April 30, 2005). During the Draft CCP/EIS comment 
period that occurred from April 30 to July 6, 2004, the Service 
received 594 public responses in oral testimony at public hearings, in 
phone calls, or in written or electronic documents. All substantive 
issues raised in the comments on the Draft CCP/EIS have been addressed 
through changes incorporated into the Final CCP and EIS text, and 
through the responses to the public comments included in Appendix I, 
``Summary of Public Comments and Service Responses,'' of the Final EIS.

    Dated: March 7, 2005.
Richard O. Bennett,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hadley, 
[FR Doc. 05-13615 Filed 7-14-05; 8:45 am]