[Federal Register: November 13, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 220)]
[Page 67194-67195]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R7-R-2008-N0069; 70133-1265-0000-S3]

Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge, Fairbanks, AK

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of the revised comprehensive 
conservation plan and finding of no significant impact for 
environmental assessment.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce the 
availability of our Revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and 
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for the Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge (Kanuti 
Refuge). In this revised CCP, we describe how we will manage this 
refuge for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the revised CCP and FONSI 
by any of the following methods. You may request a paper copy, a 
summary, or a CD-ROM containing both.
    Agency Web Site: Download a copy of the documents at http://
    E-mail: fw7_Kanuti_planning@fws.gov. Please include ``Kanuti 
Refuge revised CCP'' in the subject line of the message.
    Mail: Peter Wikoff, Planning Team Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 1011 East Tudor Road, MS 231, Anchorage, AK 99503.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call (907) 786-3357 to make an 
appointment during regular business hours at the USFWS Regional Office, 
1011 E. Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503 or call (907) 456-0329 to make 
an appointment during regular business hours at Kanuti Refuge, 101 12th 
Ave., Room 262, Fairbanks, AK 99701.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Wikoff, planning team leader, 
(907) 786-3357 or fw7_Kanuti_planning@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for the Kanuti 
Refuge. We started this process through a notice of intent in the 
Federal Register (68 FR 66475, November 26, 2003) and a revised notice 
of intent in the Federal Register (71 FR 42117, July 25, 2006). We 
announced the availability of the draft CCP and EA, and requested 
comments in a notice of availability in the Federal Register (72 FR 
27327, May 15, 2007). We announced an extension of the comment period, 
until September 15, 2007, with a notice in the Federal Register (72 FR 
39438, July 18, 2007).
    Kanuti Refuge is roadless and lies on the Arctic Circle about 150 
miles northwest of Fairbanks, Alaska. It is situated in a broad basin 
formed by the Koyukuk and Kanuti rivers between the Brooks Range and 
the Ray Mountains. The Dalton Highway and Alyeska pipeline lie within 
eight miles of its eastern boundary. The refuge consists of nearly 1.3 
million acres of Federal lands within an external boundary that 
encompasses approximately 1.6 million acres of Federal, State, and 
private lands. The landscape consists primarily of rolling hills, 
wetlands, ponds, and streams. Elevations range from 500 feet to over 
3,000 feet. The major natural resources are wildlife, fisheries, and 
their associated habitats.
    We announce our decision and the availability of the FONSI for the 
revised CCP for the Kanuti Refuge in accordance with National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6(b)) requirements. We 
completed a thorough analysis of impacts on the human environment in 
the EA that accompanied the draft revised CCP.
    The CCP will guide us in managing and administering the Kanuti 
Refuge for the next 15 years. The revised CCP is a modification of 
Alternative C, the preferred alternative in the draft CCP, developed in 
response to public comments.


    The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (94 
Stat. 2371; ANILCA) and the National Wildlife Refuge system Improvement 
Act of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) require us to develop a CCP for 
each Alaska 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. We will review and 
update the CCP at least every 15 years in accordance with national 
policy and ANILCA. ANILCA requires us is to designate areas according 
to their respective resources and values and to specify programs and 
uses within the areas designated. To meet this requirement, the Alaska 
Region established management categories for refuges including 
Wilderness, Minimal, Moderate, Intensive, and Wild River management. 
For each management category we identified appropriate activities, 
public uses, commercial uses, and facilities. Only the Minimal and 
Moderate management categories are applied to Kanuti Refuge.

Draft CCP Alternatives

    Our draft CCP and EA addressed two issues and evaluated three 
alternatives. The two significant issues raised during scoping were a 
desire for conservation of the natural character of the refuge and 
acceptance of and integration of new management policies and guidelines 
for refuges in Alaska. Alternative A (the no-action alternative--a NEPA 
requirement) described what would happen with a continuation of current 
management activities and served as a baseline for comparison of other 
alternatives. Under Alternative A, management of the refuge would 
continue to follow the current course of action. Refuge lands would 
remain in their present management categories, with 33 percent in 
Moderate management and 67 percent in Minimal management. Alternative B 
would convert all refuge lands now in Moderate management to Minimal 
management and incorporate new regional policies and guidelines for 
national wildlife refuges in Alaska. Our selected alternative, the 
slightly modified Alternative C, would reclassify some refuge lands and 
would incorporate new regional policies and guidelines for national 
wildlife refuges in Alaska. Eighty-six percent of the refuge would be 
in Minimal management and 14 percent in Moderate management.

Comments on the Draft CCP

    We solicited comments on the draft CCP/EA for Kanuti Refuge from 
May 15,

[[Page 67195]]

2007, through September 15, 2007. During the public review and comment 
period the Service held public meetings in Alatna, Allakaket, Bettles, 
Evansville, and Fairbanks. The planning team reviewed, analyzed, and 
summarized all comments received at the public meetings and in writing. 
We received a number of comments which suggested changes in the 
management category boundaries we had proposed in the draft plan. 
Generally, local residents and community leaders preferred that refuge 
lands adjoining private lands near their communities be in the moderate 
management category. Conversely, others preferred to see more of the 
refuge in the Minimal management category. In response to the comments 
received, we modified Alternative C, and adopted it as our management 

Selected Alternative--Modified Alternative C

    Under the selected alternative, 13.6 percent of Federal lands 
within the refuge boundary are classified Moderate management. The 
original Alternative C classified 14.7 percent of refuge lands Moderate 
management. The main changes in the selected alternative were in 
location of Moderate management lands. In the northwestern portion of 
the refuge an area, which includes the upper reaches of Henshaw Creek, 
some Moderate management lands were reclassified Minimal management. 
The new northwestern boundary of the Moderate management area is offset 
2 miles to the north of the Allakaket-Bettles trail. The lower boundary 
of this area remains the same as in the draft plan. An area of Minimal 
management south of Evansville and Bettles which is surrounded by 
private lands was reclassified Moderate management. Also, a smaller 
area of Minimal management south of Bettles which is surrounded by 
private lands, Moderate management, and the refuge boundary was 
reclassified Moderate management.

    Dated: November 6, 2008.
Gary Edwards,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, 
 [FR Doc. E8-26912 Filed 11-12-08; 8:45 am]