[Federal Register: August 6, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 150)]
[Page 39336-39337]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R7-R-2009-N135; 70133-1265-0000-U4]

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Cold Bay, AK

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposed land 
exchange of certain lands owned by the State of Alaska and certain 
lands owned by the King Cove Corporation and evaluation of a road 
corridor through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and the Izembek 
Wilderness Area. We furnish this notice to advise the public and other 
agencies of our intentions and to seek information and suggestions on 
the scope of issues to be addressed in the EIS. Special mailings, 
newspaper articles, and other media releases will announce additional 
opportunities to provide written and oral input.

DATES: While we are initiating the EIS, progress will be dependent on 
specific appropriations to fund this effort. Public scoping meetings 
will be held in Washington, DC, as well as in Anchorage, King Cove, 
Cold Bay, Sand Point, and Nelson Lagoon in Alaska. At least 30 days 
prior to each meeting, we will announce dates, times, and locations.

ADDRESSES: Additional information concerning the proposed land exchange 
is at http://izembek.fws.gov/EIS.htm. Send your comments or requests 
for information by any of the following methods:
     E-mail: izembek_eis@fws.gov;
     Fax: Attn: Helen Clough, (907) 786-3965; or
     U.S. Mail: Helen Clough, Project Coordinator, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor Rd., MS-231, Anchorage, AK 99503.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Helen Clough, 907-786-3357 (phone), or 
at the addresses above.

    The Izembek National Wildlife Refuge (417,533 acres) and the North 
Creek (8,452 acres) and Pavlof (1,447,264 acres) units of the Alaska 
Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge are located at the westernmost tip 
of the Alaska Peninsula. The 1,008,697-acre Unimak Island (the 
easternmost Aleutian Island of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife 
Refuge) lies across the Isanotski Strait. To the north of the Izembek 
Refuge is the Bering Sea; to the south is the Pacific Ocean. The Alaska 
Peninsula is dominated by the rugged Aleutian Range, part of the 
Aleutian arc chain of volcanoes. Landforms include mountains, active 
volcanoes, U-shaped valleys, glacial moraines, low tundra wetlands, 
lakes, sand dunes, and lagoons. Elevations range from sea level to the 
9,372-foot Shishaldin Volcano. Shishaldin Volcano is a designated 
National Natural Landmark. Several major lagoons are within the Izembek 
Refuge boundary. These lagoons contain some of the world's largest 
eelgrass beds. The lagoons are under the jurisdiction of the State of 
Alaska. Izembek Lagoon is designated the Izembek State Game Refuge. 
Birds from all over the Arctic funnel through Izembek Refuge each fall 
on their way to wintering grounds throughout the world. More than 98 
percent of the world's Pacific black brant use Izembek Lagoon as a 
staging area for their fall migration to Mexico. Other birds that use 
the refuge include golden plovers, ruddy turnstones, western 
sandpipers, tundra swans, Steller's eiders, and emperor geese. The 
refuge also is home to large concentrations of brown bears and other 
large mammals such as caribou and wolves. The red, pink, chum, and 
silver salmon that use the waters within the refuge enrich the entire 
ecosystem with the nutrients they bring from the sea. The refuge also 
has a rich human history, from ancient settlements of Alaska Natives, 
through the 18th and 19th century Russian fur

[[Page 39337]]

traders, to a World War II outpost. The Izembek Wilderness covers much 
of the refuge and includes pristine streams, extensive wetlands, steep 
mountains, tundra, and sand dunes, and provides high scenic, wildlife, 
and scientific values, as well as outstanding opportunities for 
solitude and primitive recreation.
    The King Cove Corporation is an Alaska Native Village Corporation 
established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 
(ANCSA; 43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) Under the authority of ANCSA, Congress 
granted to King Cove Corporation land entitlements within and adjacent 
to Izembek Refuge. The State of Alaska also owns lands, submerged 
lands, shorelands, and tidelands within and adjacent to Izembek and 
Alaska Peninsula Refuges, including the Izembek State Game Refuge.
    Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge stretches from the Arctic 
Ocean to the southeast panhandle of Alaska and protects breeding 
habitat for seabirds, marine mammals, and other wildlife on more than 
2,500 islands, spires, rocks, and coastal headlands. Sitkinak Island, 
which lies within the boundaries of the Alaska Maritime National 
Wildlife Refuge, is primarily owned by the State of Alaska, with two 
parcels owned by the Service.
    In the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (H.R. 146, 
Subtitle E; the Act), Congress directs us to prepare an EIS under the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 
et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508) to 
evaluate the impacts of a proposed land exchange with the State of 
Alaska and the King Cove Corporation for the purpose of constructing a 
single-lane gravel road between the communities of King Cove and Cold 
Bay, Alaska. The land exchange would involve the removal of 
approximately 206 acres within the Izembek Wilderness portion of 
Izembek National Wildlife Refuge for the road corridor and 
approximately 1,600 acres of Federal land within the Alaska Maritime 
National Wildlife Refuge on Sitkinak Island. In exchange, we would 
receive approximately 43,093 acres of land owned by the State of Alaska 
and approximately 13,300 acres of land owned by the King Cove 
Corporation. These lands are located around Cold Bay and adjacent to 
the North Creek Unit of Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge.
    The preparation of this EIS is to begin not later than 60 days 
after the Secretary receives notification by the State and the King 
Cove Corporation of their intention to exchange lands in accordance 
with the Act. The Secretary received notification by the King Cove 
Corporation on May 19, 2009, and by the State of Alaska on June 19, 
2009. This notice initiates the process and opens the period for public 
scoping. Formal public involvement activities will begin when we 
receive funds appropriated to support this effort. At that time we will 
announce additional public involvement activities.
    In accordance with Section 6402(b)(2)(B) of the Act, the EIS will 
analyze the proposed land exchange and the potential construction and 
operation of a road between the communities of King Cove and Cold Bay, 
Alaska, and will evaluate a specific road corridor through the Izembek 
Refuge that will be identified in consultation with the State of 
Alaska, the City of King Cove, and the Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove. The 
alternatives anticipated at this time include the existing situation 
(no land exchange or road construction) and the proposed land exchange 
and road construction and operation as outlined in the Act. In 
preparing the EIS, the Service will solicit comments from public 
locally, regionally, and nationally. As required in the Act, subsequent 
to the preparation of the EIS and in conjunction with the Record of 
Decision, the Secretary of the Interior will determine whether the land 
exchange (including the construction of the proposed road) is in the 
public interest.

Public Availability of Comments

    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 at any time. While you can 
ask us to withhold it from public review, we cannot guarantee we will 
be able to do so.

    Dated: July 31, 2009.
Gary Edwards,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, 
[FR Doc. E9-18809 Filed 8-5-09; 8:45 am]