[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 242 (Friday, December 16, 2011)]
[Pages 78309-78311]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-32222]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-R-2011-N091; 1265-0000-10137-SC]

Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex; 
Wilderness Review and Legislative Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
conduct a wilderness review (WR) to evaluate lands and waters within 
the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex 
(Refuge Complex), to identify Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs), and to 
determine if the WSAs are suitable for recommending Congressional 
designation as wilderness. We will also prepare a legislative 
environmental impact statement (LEIS), to evaluate the effects of 
various WR/LEIS alternatives. We provide this notice to advise the 
public, other agencies, and organizations of our intent, and to obtain 
public comments, suggestions, and information on the scope of issues to 
consider during development of the WR/LEIS.

DATES: To accommodate the holidays, we are providing a 45 day public 
comment period. Please send your written comments by January 30, 2012. 
We will announce future opportunities for public input on our Web site 
and through local news outlets.

ADDRESSES: Information about the Refuge Complex is available on our Web

[[Page 78310]]

site http://www.pacificislands.fws.gov. Send your written comments or 
requests for more information by any of the following methods.
    Email: FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Include ``Wilderness LEIS'' in 
the subject line of the message.
    Fax: Attn: Matthew Ching, (808) 792-9585.
    U.S. Mail: Matthew Ching, Wilderness Coordinator, Hawaiian and 
Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., 
Room 5-231, Honolulu, HI 96850.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Matthew Ching, (808) 792-9540 (phone).



    Under the direction and authorization of the Wilderness Act of 1964 
(16 U.S.C. 1131-1136), the National Wilderness Preservation System 
(NWPS) was created, which included a process for Federal land 
management agencies to recommend areas to Congress for designation as 
wilderness. Wilderness, as defined by the Wilderness Act, is 
untrammeled (free from man's control), undeveloped, and natural, and 
offers outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive and 
unconfined recreation. The National Wildlife Refuge System manages 
designated wilderness areas on national wildlife refuges in accordance 
with Service policies (610 FW 1-4) to secure an enduring resource of 
wilderness, and accomplish refuge purposes in a way that preserves 
wilderness character. Our policies on wilderness stewardship and refuge 
planning require us to conduct refuge wilderness reviews, which include 
the following.
     A wilderness inventory is conducted to identify refuge 
lands and waters that meet the definition of wilderness in the 
Wilderness Act.
     If refuge lands and waters meet the minimum criteria, one 
or more wilderness study areas (WSAs) may be established.
     A wilderness study is conducted to further evaluate and 
determine if each WSA is suitable for recommending Congressional 
designation as wilderness.
    We will develop the WR/LEIS in compliance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321); its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508); the Wilderness Act of 
1964; and Service policy on wilderness reviews and evaluations.

Refuge Complex Overview

    The Refuge Complex manages the following national wildlife refuges: 
Baker Island, Guam, Hakalau Forest, Hanalei, Hawaiian Islands, Howland 
Island, Hul[emacr]`ia, James Campbell, Jarvis Island, Johnston Island, 
Kakahai`a, Ke[amacr]lia Pond, K[imacr]lauea Point, Kingman Reef, 
Mariana Arc of Fire, Mariana Trench, Midway Atoll, O`ahu Forest, 
Palmyra Atoll, Pearl Harbor, Rose Atoll, and Wake Atoll. These refuges 
are located in Hawai'i, Honolulu, Kauai, and Maui Counties, HI; U.S. 
Pacific Island Territories; and the Commonwealth of the Northern 
Mariana Islands. The Refuge Complex covers more than 54 million acres, 
and encompasses some of the best remaining wildlife habitat in the 
Pacific Ocean. The Refuge Complex is home to some of the rarest 
endangered flora and fauna in the world, and extraordinary biological, 
chemical, and geological phenomena. Several refuges contain significant 
cultural and historic resources as well. Some of the refuges, many 
located on the main Hawaiian Islands, offer recreational opportunities, 
educational programs, and guided tours to the public. However, a 
majority of the refuges in the Refuge Complex are closed to public 
access to protect their unique and fragile natural resources.

Refuges With Completed Wilderness Inventories

    A brief summary and table of the Refuge Complex's existing WSAs and 
studies follow.
     We completed wilderness inventories and subsequent WSA 
studies for the Baker Island, Howland Island, and Jarvis Island Refuges 
in September 2008 as part of their comprehensive conservation plans 
(CCP). We determined that each refuge contains a WSA that is suitable 
for a possible wilderness recommendation. Since then, the 
jurisdictional boundaries of these refuges were expanded by Secretary's 
Order 3284; therefore, we will conduct inventories in the expansion 
areas, and if WSAs are identified, we will complete the wilderness 
review process for each new and existing WSA as part of our WR/LEIS.
     We completed a wilderness inventory and identified a WSA 
on the Hakalau Forest Refuge, as part of the refuge's CCP completed in 
September 2010. The WSA review process will be completed as part of our 
     We completed the wilderness inventory and review process 
for the Hawaiian Islands Refuge in 1974. We will conduct a new 
wilderness inventory and review process as part of our WR/LEIS.
    The following table summarizes the status of the wilderness review 
process for each WSA currently established within the Refuge Complex.

                                                                     Date of study          Date of submission
                Refuge                 Inventory date  results       determination            recommendation
Baker Island\1\......................  September 2008, WSA      September 2008,          Will be part of WR/
                                        identified.              Suitable for possible    LEIS.
Hakalau Forest.......................  September 2010, WSA      Study will be part of    To be determined during
                                        identified.              WR/LEIS.                 WSA Study.
Hawaiian Islands \2\.................  April 24, 1970, WSA      June 1974, Suitable for  June 1974, Wilderness
                                        identified.              possible wilderness      proposal submitted to
                                                                 recommendation.          Congress.
Howland Island\1\....................  September 2008, WSA      September 2008,          Will be part of WR/
                                        identified.              Suitable for possible    LEIS.
Jarvis Island\1\.....................  September 2008, WSA      September 2008,          Will be part of WR/
                                        identified.              Suitable for possible    LEIS.
\1\ As part of our WR/LEIS, we will also conduct an inventory of refuge expansion areas. If WSAs are identified,
  we will complete the review process for each WSA.
\2\ As part of our WR/LEIS, we will conduct a new inventory of the refuge. If WSAs are identified, we will
  complete the wilderness review process for each WSA.

[[Page 78311]]

    We have managed our existing WSAs in a manner that preserves 
wilderness character in accordance with (1) the Refuges' respective 
CCPs; (2) regulations on administration and use of areas under the 
jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Interior which may be designated 
as wilderness areas (43 CFR 35); and (3) Service policy on areas 
pending designation as wilderness. The documents containing the 
existing wilderness inventories and reviews are available on our Web 
site http://www.fws.gov/pacificislandsrefuges/wilderness.html.

Refuges With Special Considerations

    Site visits by Service staff to Wake Atoll Refuge have been 
limited. We will conduct the Wake Atoll wilderness inventory as 
opportunities for site visits become available. If we identify a WSA at 
the Refuge, it will be evaluated in the Draft WR/LEIS.
    The submerged lands that make up the Mariana Trench Refuge were 
established as a national wildlife refuge as part of the Mariana Trench 
Marine National Monument in accordance with Secretary's Order 3284. The 
Refuge will not be part of our WR/LEIS, because we are deferring its 
wilderness inventory and review until our technological capabilities 
can provide a viable assessment of the minimum criteria for wilderness 
on the Refuge.

Scoping: Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities

    We have identified the following preliminary issues, concerns, and 
opportunities that we may consider during the development of the WR/
LEIS. We may identify additional issues during the public comment 
period. We will consider and address public comments during development 
of the WR/LEIS.
     Which Refuge Complex lands and waters are of such quality 
that they should be included in wilderness proposals identified in the 
WR/LEIS alternatives?
     How would current or planned refuge uses, including 
natural resource management activities, public visitation, and 
scientific research, be affected in areas identified in potential 
wilderness recommendations?
     How would our management of refuge resources, including 
historic and cultural artifacts, biological resources, and physical 
attributes such as water quality and soils, be affected in areas 
identified in potential wilderness recommendations?
     How should global climate change and its potential impacts 
be considered in the evaluation of wilderness?

Public Involvement

    We will develop the WR/LEIS in a manner that will provide 
participation opportunities for the public; Federal, State, 
Territorial, and local government agencies; and other interested 
parties. We request your input regarding issues and suggestions 
important to you and the evaluation of potential wilderness 

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email 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: December 12, 2011.
Richard Hannan,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific Region, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2011-32222 Filed 12-15-11; 8:45 am]