[Federal Register: March 12, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 48)]
[Page 11905-11906]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 11905]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R7-R-2009-N282; 70133-1265-0000-U4]

Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, Fairbanks, AK

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

ACTION: Notice of availability of proposed land exchange Yukon Flats 
National Wildlife Refuge final environmental impact statement.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service, we) announce 
that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for a Proposed 
Land Exchange in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), 
Alaska, is available for public review. We prepared this FEIS pursuant 
to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and its 
implementing regulations. The Service is furnishing this notice to 
advise the public and other agencies of availability of the FEIS.

DATES: We will accept comments on the FEIS up to 30 days from the date 
of publication of this Notice.

ADDRESSES: Information about the Refuge and the FEIS is available on 
the internet at: http://yukonflatseis.ensr.com. You may view or 
download a copy of the FEIS at this Web site. Copies of the FEIS may be 
viewed at the Yukon Flats Refuge Office in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Office in Anchorage, Alaska. 
You may request a paper copy or a compact disk of the FEIS. Send your 
comments or requests for more information by any of the following 
    E-mail: yukonflats_planning@fws.gov. Include ``Yukon Flats FEIS'' 
in the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Laura Greffenius, EIS Project Coordinator, (907) 786-
    U.S. Mail: Laura Greffenius, EIS Project Coordinator, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor Road, MS-231, Anchorage, AK 99503.
    In-Person Drop-off: You may drop off comments during regular 
business hours at the above address.

Coordinator, phone (907) 786-3872.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Yukon Flats Refuge is located in eastern 
interior Alaska. The exterior boundaries encompass about 11.1 million 
acres, of which about 2.5 million acres are owned or selected by Native 
corporations established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act 
of 1971 (ANCSA; 43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.). The Refuge includes the Yukon 
Flats, a vast wetland basin bisected by the Yukon River. The basin is 
underlain by permafrost and includes a complex network of lakes, 
streams, and rivers. The Refuge supports the highest density of 
breeding ducks in Alaska, and includes one of the greatest waterfowl 
breeding areas in North America.
    Doyon, Limited (Doyon) is an Alaska Native Regional Corporation 
established under ANCSA. Under the authority of ANCSA, Congress granted 
to Doyon land entitlements within an area that later became the Yukon 
Flats National Wildlife Refuge in 1980. Doyon has ownership interests 
in nearly 2 million acres within the boundaries of the Refuge, 
including the surface and subsurface estates of 1.15 million acres of 
land, and the subsurface estate of another 782,000 acres. An additional 
56,500 acres remain to be allocated by Doyon to Village Corporations 
located in the Refuge; Doyon would own the subsurface to these lands. 
Doyon is owned by over 14,000 Alaska Natives (Native Americans) with 
ties to a large portion of interior Alaska. Approximately 1,300 people 
reside in nine communities in or near the Yukon Flats Refuge. Most 
residents are Alaska Natives and many are Doyon shareholders.
    Negotiators for Doyon and the Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska 
Region, agreed in principle to exchange certain lands within the 
Refuge. Under the agreement, the United States (U.S.) would convey to 
Doyon the title to Refuge lands that may hold developable oil and gas 
resources. In exchange, Doyon would convey to the U.S. lands owned by 
Doyon within the Refuge boundary. These lands include wetlands 
previously identified by the Service as priority fish and wildlife 
habitats. In addition, both parties agreed in principle to exchange 
nearly six townships (132,000 acres each) to consolidate ownerships and 
facilitate land management within the Refuge. All lands acquired by the 
U.S. would be managed as part of the Yukon Flats Refuge. Activities on 
Doyon-owned lands are not subject to regulation by the Service.
    At the request of Doyon and the public, the Service prepared a 
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to evaluate the effects of 
the exchange, in accordance with procedures for implementing the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321-4370d). 
The DEIS evaluates a range of reasonable alternatives, including the 
following four alternatives: Proposed Action: Equal-value land exchange 
(based on fair market appraisals) as described in the Agreement in 
Principle (for the full text of the Agreement, see Appendix A of the 
DEIS or the project Web site at http://yukonflatseis.ensr.com/yukon_
flats/documents_other.htm). Under Phase I of this agreement, Doyon 
would receive about 110,000 acres of Refuge lands with oil and gas 
potential and 97,000 acres of oil and gas interests (no surface 
occupancy). In exchange, the U.S. would receive from Doyon a minimum of 
150,000 acres with lowland fish and wildlife habitats. The actual 
amount of land received from Doyon would be more than 150,000 acres if 
appraisals indicate more lands are needed to equal the value of the 
Service lands. In addition, Doyon would reallocate 56,500 acres of its 
remaining land entitlement under Section 12(b) of ANCSA to areas 
outside the Refuge. Both parties would pursue additional township-level 
exchanges to consolidate ownerships. If Doyon were to produce oil or 
gas on lands acquired in the exchange, under Phase II of the Agreement 
the Service would receive a perpetual production payment equal to 1.25% 
of the value at the wellhead to be used to: (1) Purchase from Doyon up 
to 120,000 acres of additional lands or interests therein, within the 
Refuge, (2) purchase land or interests therein, from other willing 
sellers in other national wildlife refuges in Alaska, or to (3) 
construct facilities in Alaska Refuges.
    Alternative 1: Land exchange with non-development easements. The 
land exchange would proceed as described in Phase I under the Proposed 
Action above. In addition, at the time of the initial exchange, Doyon 
would donate to the U.S. non-development easements that preclude 
development on up to 120,000 acres of Doyon-owned lands. Rather than 
selling these lands to the U.S. in Phase II (as provided for in the 
Proposed Action), Doyon would donate the non-development easements 
whether or not oil and gas is produced from the exchange lands. If 
Doyon were to produce oil or gas on lands received in the exchange, the 
U.S. would receive a perpetual production payment of 0.25% of the 
resource value at the wellhead rather than 1.25% as provided under the 
Proposed Action.
    Alternative 2: Land exchange excluding White-Crazy Mountains. The 
Yukon Flats Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact 
Statement recommended Wilderness designation for a 658,000 acre area in 
the White-Crazy Mountains. Under the Proposed Action and

[[Page 11906]]

Alternative 1, Doyon would receive title to about 26,500 acres of this 
land; under Alternative 2, these 26,500 acres would be excluded from 
the exchange. In Phase I of the exchange, Doyon would receive title to 
approximately 83,500 acres of Refuge lands (surface and subsurface) and 
105,000 acres of oil and gas interests. About 21,000 acres of the 
latter would be within the area proposed for Wilderness designation. 
However, only off-site drilling would be allowed; there would be no 
surface occupancy by Doyon. From Doyon, the U.S. would receive title to 
a minimum of 115,000 acres, but the actual amount could be adjusted 
upward to equalize values. The land consolidation exchange and 12(b) 
reallocation provisions of Phase I would proceed as detailed in the 
Agreement in Principle. Phase II of the exchange would proceed as 
detailed in the Agreement, however Doyon's commitment to sell 
additional lands to the U.S. would be reduced from about 120,000 acres 
to about 81,000 acres. Potential access rights-of-way would cross the 
proposed White-Crazy Mountains Wilderness Area. If Doyon were to 
produce oil or gas on the lands received in the exchange, the Service 
would receive a perpetual production payment equal to 1.25% of the 
value at the wellhead.
    Alternative 3: No action (no exchange). The U.S. would not enter 
into a land exchange with Doyon. This is the preferred alternative in 
the FEIS based on public comments received on the draft and our 

Public Availability of Comments

    All public comments we receive, including those from individuals, 
become part of the public record, and are available to the public upon 
request. Therefore, 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: February 4, 2010.
Geoffrey L. Haskett,
Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska.
[FR Doc. 2010-3231 Filed 3-11-10; 8:45 am]