[Federal Register: October 9, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 194)]
[Page 57343-57344]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Koyukuk, Nowitna and the Northern Unit (Kaiyuh Flats) of Innoko 
National Wildlife Refuges, AK

AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to revise the comprehensive conservation plan 
and prepare an environmental assessment; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare a revised comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
environmental assessment (EA) for Koyukuk, Nowitna and the Northern 
Unit (Kaiyuh Flats) of Innoko National Wildlife Refuges (Refuges). We 
furnish this notice in compliance with our CCP policy to advise other 
agencies, Tribes, and the public of our intentions, and to obtain 
suggestions and information on the scope of issues to consider in the 
planning process. We will use local announcements, special mailings, 
newspaper articles, the internet, and other media announcements to 
inform people of opportunities to provide input throughout the planning 
process. We will hold public meetings in communities near the refuges 
during preparation of the revised plan.

DATES: Please provide written comments on the scope of the CCP revision 
by December 15, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Address comments, questions, and requests for further 
information to: Robert Lambrecht, Planning Team Leader, Koyukuk Nowitna 
National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 287, Galena, AK 99741-0287. Comments 
may be faxed to (907) 656-1708, or sent via electronic mail to 
Koyukuk/Nowitna_planning@fws.gov. Additional information about the Refuge is 

available on the internet at: http://alaska.fws.gov/nwr/planning/knpol.htm

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Lambrecht, Planning Team 
Leader, phone (907) 656-1231.



    With this notice, we initiate our process for developing a CCP for 
the Koyukuk and Nowitna and the Northern Unit (Kaiyuh Flats) of Innoko 
National Wildlife Refuges, Alaska. We furnish this notice in compliance 
with our policy to (1) advise other Federal and State agencies, Tribes, 
and the public of our intention to conduct detailed planning on this 
refuge and (2) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of 
issues to be considered in the environmental document and during the 
development of the CCP.

The CCP Process

    The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (94 Stat. 2371) 
and the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), which amended the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966; require us to develop a CCP for each 
national wildlife refuge in Alaska. The purpose of developing a CCP is 
to provide refuge managers with a 15-year plan for achieving refuge 
purposes and contributing to the mission of the National Wildlife 
Refuge System, consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife 
management, conservation, legal mandates, and our policies. In addition 
to outlining broad management direction on conserving wildlife and 
their habitats, CCPs 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 
the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with the Refuge 
Improvement Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).
    Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System was established 
for specific purposes. We use these purposes as the bases to develop 
and prioritize management goals and objectives within the National 
Wildlife Refuge System mission, and to guide which public uses will 
occur on these Refuges. The planning process is a way for us and the 
public to evaluate management goals and objectives for the best 
possible conservation approach to this important wildlife habitat, 
while providing for wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities that 
are compatible with the Refuges' establishing purposes and the mission 
of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
    We will conduct a comprehensive conservation planning process that 
will provide opportunity for Tribal, State, and local government 
agencies; organizations; and the public to participate in issue scoping 
and public comment. We request input in the form of issues, concerns, 
ideas, and suggestions for the future management of the Koyukuk and 
Nowitna and the Northern Unit (Kaiyuh Flats) of Innoko National 
Wildlife Refuges.
    We will conduct the environmental review of this project through an

[[Page 57344]]

environmental assessment in accordance with the requirements of the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended; NEPA regulations 
(40 CFR parts 1500-1508); other appropriate Federal laws and 
regulations; and our policies and procedures for compliance with those 
laws and regulations.

The Refuges

    The Koyukuk Refuge (3,550,000 acres), Nowitna Refuge (1,560,000 
acres), and Northern Unit (Kaiyuh Flats) of Innoko Refuge (350,800 
acres) are managed from the headquarters office in Galena, Alaska. 
Following are the purposes for which the Koyukuk and Nowitna National 
Wildlife Refuges were established by ANILCA: (i) To conserve fish and 
wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity, including 
but not limited to [Koyukuk] waterfowl and other migratory birds, 
moose, caribou (including participation in coordinated ecological 
studies and management of the Western Arctic caribou herd), furbearers, 
and salmon; [Nowitna] trumpeter swans, white-fronted geese, 
canvasbacks, and other waterfowl and migratory birds; moose; caribou; 
martens, wolverines, and other furbearers; salmon; sheefish; and 
northern pike; [Innoko] waterfowl, peregrine falcons, other migratory 
birds, black bear, moose, furbearers, and other mammals; and salmon; 
(ii) to fulfill the international treaty obligations of the United 
States with respect to fish and wildlife and their habitats; (iii) to 
provide, in a manner consistent with the purposes set forth in 
subparagraphs (i) and (ii), the opportunity for continued subsistence 
uses by local residents; (iv) to ensure, to the maximum extent 
practicable and in a manner consistent with the purposes set forth in 
paragraph (i), water quality and necessary water quantity within the 
    The CCPs for these refuges were completed in 1987. They provide 
direction for managing the refuges by identifying the types and level 
of activities that can occur on the refuges. The refuges are divided 
into three management categories: Most of the refuges are in the 
Minimal management category; 400,000 acres of the Koyukuk Refuge are 
designated Wilderness; and 142,000 acres of the Nowitna Refuge are in 
the Wild and Scenic River category. As we revise the CCPs, the two 
current CCPs will be combined into one CCP.
    Koyukuk Refuge lies in a basin surrounded by rolling, low mountains 
and is bisected by the Koyukuk River, the third largest river in 
Alaska. The refuge's rich wetlands combine with lowland forests to 
support a diversity of wildlife, including moose and large populations 
of migrating waterfowl. There are about 15,000 lakes and over 5,500 
miles of rivers and streams within the boundaries of the refuge. Refuge 
lands support large numbers of nesting waterfowl and contain some of 
Alaska's highest quality moose habitat. The refuge is also home to 
caribou, wolves, lynx, pike, raptors, and black and grizzly bears. The 
six Native (Koyukon Athabascan) villages adjacent to, or within, the 
refuge boundaries have used the refuge for centuries. Hunting, fishing 
and trapping are still important subsistence activities today.
    The northern unit (Kaiyuh Flats) of Innoko Refuge shares a common 
boundary with Koyukuk Refuge and is home to waterfowl, peregrine 
falcons, other migratory birds, black bear, moose, fur bearers and 
other mammals, and salmon. Pike, a long-lived fish that can reach large 
sizes, also winter in the Kaiyuh Flats.
    Nowitna Refuge's topography varies from flat lowlands dotted with 
wetlands to rolling hills capped by alpine tundra. During summer, 
Nowitna's varied habitats support over 125 bird species but this number 
drops to only a few dozen during winter. The Palisades, a series of 
bluffs on the Yukon River near the northeast boundary of the refuge, is 
a rich source of fossils and other evidence of Pleistocene Era animals 
and plants. The Nowitna River bisects the refuge and forms a broad 
meandering flood plain. Two-hundred twenty-three miles of the Nowitna 
is designated Wild and Scenic River and passes through a 15 mile canyon 
with peaks up to 2,100 feet. In the spring, high water and ice dams can 
back the river up more than 100 miles, affecting water levels and 
permitting the migration of fish from many adjacent lakes and sloughs.

Scoping: Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities

    We have identified preliminary issues, concerns, and opportunities 
and may address them in the CCP. Preliminary issues include (1) concern 
about management of moose, salmon, predators, and waterfowl within the 
refuges; (2) competition for refuge resources between local and non-
local users; (3) desire for improved pubic outreach and involvement in 
refuge management; (4) sensitivity to local cultural ways; (5) future 
trends in public use of the refuge and how public use will be managed; 
(6) effects of climate change on the refuge; (7) implementation of 
existing policies on cabins, timber harvest, and other resource 
development; and (8) effects of existing and proposed off-refuge 
development on refuge lands and resources. These and other issues will 
be explored during the scoping process and the refuge will determine 
which issues will be addressed in the revised CCP.

Public Meetings

    We will involve the public through open houses, meetings, and 
comments. We will mail planning updates to our refuge mailing list to 
keep the public aware of the status of the revision and how we use 
public comments in each stage of the planning process. Scoping meetings 
are planned to be held in October, 2007 in the following refuge area 
communities: Hughes, Huslia, Kaltag, Koyukuk, Nulato, Ruby, and Tanana. 
A week-long open house will be held at refuge headquarters in Galena 
also in October. Details will be announced locally.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your name, 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 at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Dated: October 1, 2007.
Thomas O. Melius,
Regional Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska.
 [FR Doc. E7-19794 Filed 10-5-07; 8:45 am]