[Federal Register: September 18, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 180)]
[Page 53260-53261]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Howland Island National Wildlife Refuge, Baker Island National 
Wildlife Refuge, and Jarvis Island National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of draft comprehensive conservation 
plans and associated environmental assessments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plans and 
Environmental Assessments (Draft CCPs/EAs) for public review and 
comments, for Howland Island National Wildlife Refuge, Baker Island 
National Wildlife Refuge, and Jarvis Island National Wildlife Refuge. 
These three national wildlife refuges are unincorporated U.S. 
territories located in the central Pacific Ocean, hereinafter 
collectively called Refuges. These Draft CCPs/EAs describe the 
Service's proposal for management of the Refuges over the next 15 

DATES: Written comments must be received at the address below by 
October 30, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the Draft CCPs/EAs should be addressed to: 
Donald Palawski, Refuge Manager, Pacific Remote Islands National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 5-231, Honolulu, HI 
96717. Comments may also be submitted via electronic mail to 
FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Please use Pacific Island NWR CCPs, in the 

subject line.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donald Palawski, Refuge Manager, phone 
number (808) 792-9560.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The CCPs/EAs 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, and the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Proposed changes to 
refuge management include more frequent biological surveys, attraction 
of two rare seabird species to the refuges, and increased scientific 
research opportunities. No public uses of the Refuges are proposed.
    Copies of the Draft CCPs/EAs may be obtained by writing to the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Attn: Charles Pelizza, Refuge Conservation 
Planner, Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Refuges, c/o Oahu NWR Complex, 
66-590 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, HI 96712. The Draft CCPs/EAs will 
also be available for viewing and downloading online at http://pacific.fws.gov/planning.
 Copies of the Draft CCPs/EAs may be viewed at 

the Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex Office 
during the regular business working hours from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday 
through Friday. The office is located in the Prince Jonah Kuhio 
Kalanianaole Federal Building at 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 5-231, 
Honolulu, HI.


    The Refuges are located near the Equator between 1,300 and 1,700 
nautical miles south to southwest from their administrative office in 
Honolulu, HI. These Refuges are part of the National Wildlife Refuge 
System (System) which is managed by the Service. We are developing 
individual Draft CCPs/EAs for each of the Refuges, however, we are 
developing them under one planning process, because they are part of 
the same ecosystem and share many of the same issues and management 
    These Refuges were established in 1974, when the Secretary of the 

Interior transferred responsibility for the islands, and their 
territorial seas outward to the 3-nautical-mile limit, from the Office 
of Territorial Affairs to the Service. The islands range in size from 
648 to 1,273 acres with total acreage for the Refuges ranging from 
31,909 to 37,487 acres. The purpose for establishing the Refuges is 
``the restoration and preservation of the complete ecosystem, 
terrestrial and marine.'' Special emphasis is placed on the protection, 
restoration, and preservation of nesting seabirds. Because of the 
physical characteristics of these islands, landings and access are 
extremely hazardous; therefore, the Refuges have been closed to public 
entry since establishment, to protect wildlife values and human safety.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose of the CCPs is to provide a coherent, integrated set of 
management actions to help attain the purposes and objectives of the 
Refuges. The CCPs identify the conservation role of the Refuges, 
explain the Service's proposed management actions, and provide a basis 
for Refuge budget requests.


    Four alternatives for managing the Refuges for the next 15 years 
are identified and evaluated in the Draft CCPs/EAs. The preferred 
alternative in each CCP/EA is to implement Alternative B. Alternative B 
achieves the Refuges' purposes, and goals; contributes to the System 
mission; addresses significant issues and relevant mandates; and is 
consistent with principles of sound fish and wildlife management. The 
Refuges are currently closed to all public use activities and will 
remain closed under each alternative.
    Alternative A (No Action Alternative). Alternative A provides a 
baseline from which to compare the action alternatives (Alternatives B, 
C, and D). Under Alternative A, management practices already underway 
or funded would continue. These activities include routine biological 
surveys, inspection of entrance signs, monitoring for the presence of 
invasive species, and collection of marine debris. Visits would occur 
once every 2 years and would be arranged through, and dependent upon, 
partner agencies and organizations, as is current practice.
    Alternative B. Alternative B is the Service's preferred 
alternative. Under Alternative B, the frequency of the activities 
described in Alternative A would increase and occur annually. There 
would be no increase in the scope or complexity of management 
activities. The collection of scientific data and assessment of habitat 
conditions would continue to occur. Additional management activities 
that would occur under Alternative B include a project to attract two 
rare seabird species to the Refuges and a project to conduct additional 
marine habitat exploration.
    Alternative C. This alternative includes a substantial increase in 
the frequency of visits, and also increases the scale and scope of 
management activities conducted during site visits. A Service owned or 
chartered research vessel, and crew members and their operational needs 
are required components of this alternative.

[[Page 53261]]

Monitoring wildlife populations and habitats, restoring habitats, and 
other management activities could occur year-round. Year-round or 
seasonal field camps would be rotated among the Refuges so that a more 
complete understanding of annual cycles and fluctuations in wildlife 
populations would be possible.
    Alternative D. Under Alternative D, a year-round field camp and 
would be rotated among the Refuges. A Service owned and operated vessel 
would be an integral and required component of this alternative. 
Surveys and monitoring activities under this alternative would provide 
the greatest understanding and most effective management of refuge 
resources. Scientific research would be encouraged and enhanced, with 
an opportunity for the Refuges to serve as baseline sites for global 
climate change research.

Public Comments

    Public comments are requested, considered, and incorporated 
throughout the planning process. A previous notice was published in the 
Federal Register on September 14, 2005 (70 FR 54401) announcing the 
development of these Draft CCPs/EAs. After the review and comment 
period ends for these documents, comments will be analyzed by the 
Service and addressed in revised planning and NEPA documents. All 
comments received from individuals, including names and addresses, 
become part of the official public record and may be released. Requests 
for such comments will be handled in accordance with the Freedom of 
Information Act, the Council on Environmental Quality's NEPA 
regulations [40 CFR 1506.6(f)], and Service and Departmental policies 
and procedures.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available in accordance with law. 
While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal 
identifying information from public review, Federal public disclosure 
requirements may apply.

    Dated: July 16, 2007.
David J. Wesley,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. E7-18331 Filed 9-17-07; 8:45 am]