[Federal Register: April 14, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 72)]
[Page 19539-19540]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Farallon National Wildlife Refuge Restoration Project

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

ACTION: Notice of Intent and announcement of public meeting.


SUMMARY: In accordance with procedures for implementing the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370d), this notice 
advises the public that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
intends to gather information necessary to prepare a Federal 
environmental document (environmental assessment or environmental 
impact statement) for the proposed Farallon National Wildlife Refuge 
Restoration Project. This document will examine alternatives for 
eradicating non-native house mice on the South Farallon Islands (SFI) 
as a

[[Page 19540]]

means of restoring populations of, and protecting native seabirds, 
insects and coastal plants, some of which are rare and declining due to 
the presence of non-native species. In addition, the Service proposes 
to implement preventative actions to keep non-native mammals from re-
establishing on the SFI, and respond to any future re-introductions. 
The project would take place on Southeast Farallon Island (SEFI) and 
West End (WE) which together comprise the South Farallon Islands, and 
are located in San Francisco County, California. The South Farallon 
Islands are included in the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge which is 
managed by the Service.
    The Service is furnishing this notice in order to: (1) Advise other 
federal, state, and local agencies, and the public of our intentions; 
(2) announce the initiation of a 45-day public scoping period; and (3) 
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 45 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. A 
public meeting is scheduled to be held in San Francisco, CA from 6:30 
p.m.-8 p.m., May 17 2006, at the Marina Room in Building A, Fort Mason 
Center, San Francisco, CA. There is no street address; the location is 
at the intersection of Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street. Directions 
for the public meeting are also available at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.fortmason.org/directions/index.html

ADDRESSES: Please address comments and requests to be added to the 
mailing list to Jesse Irwin, Farallon National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, PO Box 524 Newark, CA 94560, facsimile: 
(510) 792-5828, e-mail: sfbaynwrc@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Project Biologists Jesse Irwin or 
Joelle Buffa at the above address or telephone: (510) 792-0222. Persons 
needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in 
the public meeting should contact Jesse Irwin sufficiently in advance 
of the meeting to allow time to process the request.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Service is proposing to undertake the 
Farallon National Wildlife Refuge Restoration Project pursuant to the 
management authorities granted by the Refuge Improvement Act of 1997 
(16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.), 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 742d-l).
    The Service is proposing to conduct an environmental review of the 
Farallon National Wildlife Refuge Ecosystem Restoration Project and 
prepare a federal environmental document analyzing impacts related to 
the ecosystem and the human environment from the project. The 
environmental review will analyze the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge 
Restoration Project, as well as a full range of reasonable 
alternatives. 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. Eradication would be 
followed by monitoring of the removal actions and the response of 
native biota to non-native species removal.
    Should information become available during the scoping process that 
indicates the likelihood of significant environmental impacts from the 
Farallon National Wildlife Refuge Restoration Project, the Service will 
proceed with preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). 
Otherwise, an environmental assessment will be prepared.
    The Service is requesting written comments regarding the project 
from interested individuals, organizations and agencies. Respondents 
should address concerns regarding potential environmental impacts to 
the human environment, mitigation measures for the project, 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.), the Council on 
Environmental Quality's NEPA Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), 
other applicable federal laws and regulations, and applicable policies 
and procedures of the Service for compliance with those regulations.
    Background: The South Farallon Islands, located approximately 44 
kilometers (27 miles) west of San Francisco, are known for their rugged 
landscape and biological diversity. Twelve species of seabirds 
regularly breed on SFI, totaling 250,000-300,000 individuals. The South 
Farallon Islands are the largest seabird colony in the continental 
United States. Five species of seals and sea lions breed and haul out 
on SFI including Steller's sea lions which are listed as threatened 
under the Endangered Species Act. The Farallon National Wildlife Refuge 
is also home to multiple species of native coastal plants and insects. 
Non-native mice are also present on the island. Mice negatively impact 
seabirds through predation and habitat degradation. They are known to 
have played a role in the decline of many seabird species from islands 
around the world. At SFI, mice are contributing to the decline of ashy-
storm petrels, a federally and state-listed Bird of Conservation 
Concern. Mice also feed on native plants and insects and can suppress 
or eliminate many of these species. Mice cache and disperse non-native 
plant seeds, further contributing to decreased habitat quality for 
nesting seabirds.
    Following the proposed eradication, there is a threat of re-
introduction of non-native mammals from grounded vessels and transport 
of people and materials to the island. The Project will also propose 
and evaluate measures to prevent any such introductions.

    Dated: March 27, 2006.
Steve Thompson,
Manager, CA/NV Operations, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. E6-4820 Filed 4-13-06; 8:45 am]