[Federal Register: August 18, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 159)]
[Page 51098-51099]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-R-2010-N131; 1265-0000-10137-S3]

Protection Island and San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuges, 
Jefferson, Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties, WA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: draft comprehensive conservation plan, 
draft wilderness stewardship plan, and environmental assessment; 
request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of our draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP), draft 
wilderness stewardship plan (WSP), and environmental assessment (EA) 
for Protection Island and San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuges 
(NWRs, Refuges) for public review and comment. The Draft CCP/WSP/EA 
describes our alternatives, including our preferred alternative, for 
managing the Refuges for the 15 years following approval of the final 

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
September 17, 2010.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, requests for more information, or 
requests for copies of the Draft CCP/WSP/EA by any of the following 
    E-mail: FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Include ``Protection/San Juan 
Draft CCP'' in the subject line.
    Fax: Attn: Kevin Ryan, Project Leader, (360) 457-9778.
    U.S. Mail: Kevin Ryan, Project Leader, Washington Maritime National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex, 715 Holgerson Drive, Sequim, WA 98382.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Ryan, Project Leader, (360) 457-



    Protection Island NWR is located in the Strait of Juan de Fuca near 
the entrance to Discovery Bay in Jefferson County, Washington. It 
includes 659 acres of land and tideland. Protection Island NWR was 
established to provide habitat for a diversity of birds with particular 
emphasis on nesting bald eagles and seabirds, as well as to protect the 
hauling-out area for marine mammals. It has one of the largest colonies 
of rhinoceros auklets in North America. The Refuge also provides 
opportunities for scientific research and wildlife-oriented education 
and interpretation.
    Most of the San Juan Islands NWR consists of rocks, reefs, and 
islands scattered throughout the San Juan Archipelago. Two islands, 
Smith and Minor, are located south of the archipelago within the Strait 
of Juan de Fuca. The Refuge consists of approximately 449 acres in 
Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties, Washington. Most (353 
acres) of San Juan Islands NWR is also designated wilderness known as 
the San Juan Islands Wilderness Area. San Juan Islands NWR was 
established to facilitate management of migratory birds, including 
serving as a breeding ground and winter sanctuary for native birds. It 
was also intended to be a refuge for other wildlife. This Refuge is 
particularly important to breeding black oystercatchers, cormorants, 
and harbor seals.


The CCP Process

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Administration Act), as amended by the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, 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 and photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation. We will review and update 
the CCP at least every 15 years

[[Page 51099]]

in accordance with the Refuge System Administration Act.

Public Outreach

    We began public outreach by publishing a Notice of Intent in the 
Federal Register on August 14, 2007 (72 FR 45444), announcing our 
intent to complete a CCP/EA and inviting public comments. In October 
2007, we distributed Planning Update 1, which included background 
information on the Refuges, preliminary issues and goals, and a mail-in 
comment form. In the later part of 2007 and first half of 2008, Refuge 
and regional office staff held meetings with other Federal agencies, 
State agencies, county-based Marine Resource Committees, the research 
community, and nongovernmental organizations. In August 2008, we 
distributed Planning Update 2, which included the results of initial 
scoping, preliminary management options, and an invitation to the 
public open house meetings. The open house public meetings were held on 
September 23 and 24, 2008, in Friday Harbor and Port Townsend, 
Washington, respectively. We presented preliminary management options 
and obtained public comments at these meetings.

Draft CCP/WSP/EA Alternatives We Are Considering

    We identified and evaluated three alternatives for managing the 
Refuges, including current management (Alternative A). Brief 
descriptions of the alternatives follow.

Alternative A (Current Management)

    Under Alternative A, the Refuges would continue with current 
management, which focuses on stewardship, including removing 
unnecessary roads and human structures; allowing natural processes to 
occur with minimal human intervention; monitoring wildlife species; and 
working with partners to reduce the risk of oil spills, clean up marine 
debris, and educate boaters to minimize human-caused wildlife 
disturbance. Protection Island NWR would continue to be closed to the 
general public. Scientific research activities on Protection Island 
would continue with an emphasis on existing long-term partnerships. 
Recreational activities, including wildlife observation, photography, 
and camping on Turn and Matia Islands within the San Juan Islands 
Refuge, would continue as they have in the past and be facilitated 
through a State Parks partnership.

Alternative B (Preferred Alternative)

    This alternative would continue many of the activities in 
Alternative A, and would include more active habitat management 
projects, such as removing deer from Protection Island to enhance 
seabird nesting habitat and forest habitat; restoration projects on the 
spits, grasslands, and forests to increase native plant diversity; and 
the facilitation of new research and monitoring studies and 
partnerships to find answers to Refuge management questions. Public use 
changes include prohibiting pets on all Refuge lands and closing some 
areas on Turn Island, including all of the rocky shoreline to the east 
and the southeast beach as well as most of the island's interior. 
Overnight camping on Turn and Matia Islands would be limited to 
visitors arriving by human-powered craft, and a camping reservation 
system would be initiated. There would be more emphasis on enhancing 
the public's understanding and appreciation of the Refuges' natural, 
cultural, and wilderness resources through both on- and off-Refuge 
interpretation and education programs. There would be fewer large signs 
but more medium-sized signs installed on San Juan Islands Refuge units 
to discourage close approach or trespassing on closed islands. There 
would also be more emphasis on working with existing partners and 
developing new partnerships to accomplish objectives.

Alternative C

    This Alternative is very similar to Alternative B; the primary 
differences are fewer acres of native habitat restoration, as well as 
less research and fewer monitoring studies and surveys. Camping would 
continue with fewer campsites on Matia Island, and Turn Island would be 
limited to day-use only. Compared to Alternative B, fewer and mostly 
smaller signs would be used in Alternative C to identify closed Refuge 
islands and reduce human-caused wildlife disturbance.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to any methods in ADDRESSES, you can obtain a CD-ROM 
copy of the Draft CCP/WSP/EA from the Refuge by calling (360) 457-8451. 
Copies may be reviewed at the Refuge and on the Internet at http://
www.fws.gov/pacific/planning/main/docs/WA/docsprotectionIs.htm. Printed 
copies will be available for review at the following libraries in 
northwestern Washington: Anacortes Public Library, Bellingham Public 
Library, Clinton Public Library, Coupeville Public Library, Evergreen 
State College Library, Island Public Library, Jefferson County Central 
Library, Lopez Island Public Library, North Olympic Public Library, Oak 
Harbor Public Library, Orcas Island Public Library, Peninsula College 
Library, San Juan Islands Library, Shaw Island Library, University of 
Puget Sound Library, University of Washington Library, and Waldron 
Island Library.

Next Steps

    After this comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and 
address them in the final CCP/WSP and decision document.

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 in your comment to withhold your identifying information from 
the public, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    Dated: July 2, 2010.
Carolyn A. Bohan,
Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2010-20542 Filed 8-17-10; 8:45 am]