[Federal Register: November 5, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 215)]
[Page 65873-65874]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-R-2008-N0232; 40136-1265-0000-S3]

Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge, McIntosh County, GA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: Final comprehensive conservation plan 
and finding of no significant impact.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of our final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for Wolf Island National 
Wildlife Refuge (NWR). In the final CCP, we describe how we will manage 
this refuge for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: A copy of the CCP may be obtained by writing to: Mr. Shaw 
Davis, Savannah Coastal Refuges' Complex, 1000 Business Center Drive, 
Parkway Business Center, Suite 10, Savannah, GA 31405. The CCP may also 
be accessed and downloaded from the Service's Web site: http://

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Shaw Davis; Telephone: 912-652-
4030 x 106; fax: 912-652-4385; e-mail: shaw_davis@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Wolf Island NWR. 
We started this process through a notice in the Federal Register on 
October 30, 2006 (71 FR 63344). For more about the process, see that 
    Wolf Island NWR, 12 miles east of Darien, Georgia (by boat), 
consists of a long narrow strip of oceanfront beach backed by a broad 
band of salt marsh. Over 75 percent of the refuge's 5,126 acres are 
composed of saltwater marshes. The refuge was established by Executive 
Order 5316 on April 3, 1930, when the 538 acres already in government 
ownership were set aside as a sanctuary for migratory birds. Wolf 
Island NWR is a designated National Wilderness Area and is maintained 
as such, with its primary purpose being to provide protection for 
migratory birds and such endangered and threatened species as the 
loggerhead sea turtle and piping plover. Due to its Wilderness 
designation, no public use facilities exist on the refuge. Though the 
refuge's saltwaters are open to a variety of recreational activities, 
all beach, marsh, and upland areas are closed to the public.
    This three-island wildlife refuge at the mouth of the Altamaha 
River consists mainly of salt marsh and provides critical sanctuary for 
rare migrating birds and nursery habitat for sea turtles. Wolf Island, 
the largest island in the refuge, covers 4,519 acres. Its boundaries 
are defined by the South River to the north, Little Mud River to

[[Page 65874]]

the west, Altamaha Sound to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the 
east. The island has only 300 acres of dune and beach along its narrow, 
4-mile-long eastern shoreline. It fronts the ocean in the Altamaha 
River Delta and forms a physical barrier between Doboy Sound to the 
north and Altamaha Sound to the south. Tucked into the mouth of 
Altamaha Sound and directly south of Wolf Island are Egg and Little Egg 
Islands. They consist of 593 and 14 acres in size, respectively, with 
extensive salt marsh and only 70 acres of upland.
    Wolf Island is one of seven refuges administered by the Savannah 
Coastal Refuges' Complex. This chain of national wildlife refuges 
extends from Pinckney Island NWR near Hilton Head Island, South 
Carolina, to Wolf Island NWR near Darien, Georgia. Between these lie 
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, the largest unit in the complex, and 
the Wassaw, Tybee, Harris Neck, and Blackbeard Island National Wildlife 
Refuges. Together they span a 100-mile coastline that encompasses a 
total of more than 56,000 acres. The Savannah Coastal Refuges' Complex 
is administered from a headquarters office in Savannah, Georgia.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the final CCP and 
FONSI for Wolf Island NWR in accordance with the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) [40 CFR 1506.6(b)] requirements. We completed a 
thorough analysis of impacts on the human environment, which we 
included in the draft comprehensive conservation plan and environmental 
    The compatibility determinations for (1) Hunting; (2) fishing; (3) 
wildlife observation and photography; (4) environmental education and 
interpretation; and (5) research are also available within the CCP.


    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Improvement Act), which amended the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, requires us to 
develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose for 
developing a CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year plan for 
achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward 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, wildlife 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation. Currently, 
access to the refuge is limited and there is no public access allowed. 
This restriction limits the above activities to the waters near the 
refuge. We will review and update the CCP at least every15 years in 
accordance with the Improvement Act.


    Approximately 200 copies of the Draft CCP/EA were made available 
for a 30-day public review period as announced in the Federal Register 
on June 12, 2008 (73 FR 33451). Two written comments were received, one 
from a private citizen and one from a non-governmental organization. 
Both commenters supported the Service's management direction.

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received and based on the sound 
professional judgment of the core planning team, we have selected 
Alternative C for implementation. This alternative is judged to be the 
most effective management action for meeting the purposes of the refuge 
by optimizing ecosystem management throughout the refuge. Under 
Alternative C, the refuge will practice ecosystem management, 
recognizing the ecological role of Wolf Island NWR within the 
interrelated Altamaha River Basin and coastal barrier island ecosystem. 
Human activities and natural processes within these ecosystems 
influence Wolf Island NWR in a variety of ways. Alternative C 
explicitly commits the Service to acknowledge these influences and 
cooperate with other stakeholders in ways that will ensure the 
continued protection and enhancement of the ecosystem's natural 
    Under Alternative C, the refuge will strive to optimize its 
biological program, recognizing that there may be tradeoffs and 
opportunity costs between the various elements of the biological 
programs envisioned (it might not be possible to equally pursue and 
achieve all objectives simultaneously because of budgeting and staffing 
constraints or because of intrinsic conflicts between certain 
objectives). However, Alternative C emphasizes a broader ecosystem 
approach than the optional alternatives, which narrowly focused on the 
    The refuge will conduct baseline inventorying and monitoring 
programs with several partners to investigate threats and opportunities 
within the ecosystem as they may impact refuge goals and objectives. 
Resource protection within the ecosystem will be intensified. Control 
of invasive species will commence and efforts will be made to reduce 
beach erosion. Service staff will work with partners to manage and 
improve habitats within the ecosystem.

    Authority: This notice is published under the authority of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, Public Law 

    Dated: September 12, 2008.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
 [FR Doc. E8-26370 Filed 11-4-08; 8:45 am]