[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 68 (Friday, April 8, 2011)]
[Pages 19781-19783]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-8418]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-R-2010-N222; 10137-1265-0000 S3]

Protection Island and San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuges, 
Jefferson, San Juan, Skagit, Island, and Whatcom Counties, WA; Final 
Comprehensive Conservation Plan, Wilderness Stewardship Plan, and 
Finding of No Significant Impact for Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of our final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and 
finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the environmental 
assessment (EA) for Protection Island and San Juan Islands National 
Wildlife Refuges (NWRs). In this final CCP, we describe how we will 
manage these refuges for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the final CCP and FONSI/EA 
by any of the following methods. You may request a CD-ROM or an 
electronic copy.
    Agency Web Site: Download a copy of the documents at http://pacific.fws.gov/planning.
    E-mail: FW1Planning@fws.gov. Include ``Protection Island and San 
Juan Islands NWRs final CCP'' in the subject line of the message.
    Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Maritime NWRC, 715 
Holgerson Road, Sequim, WA 98382.
    In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Call 360-457-8451 to make an 
appointment during regular business hours at 715 Holgerson Road, 
Sequim, WA.
    Local Library or Libraries: The documents are also available for 
review at the libraries listed under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Ryan, Project Leader, 360-457-
8451, kevin_ryan@fws.gov.



    With this notice, we finalize the CCP process for Protection Island 
and San Juan Islands NWRs. We started this process through a notice in 
the Federal Register (72 FR 45444; August 14, 2007). We released the 
draft CCP and the EA to the public, announcing and requesting comments 
in a notice of availability in the Federal Register (75 FR 51098; 
August 18, 2010).
    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 San 
Juan, Skagit, Island, and Whatcom Counties, Washington. Most (353 
acres) of San Juan Islands NWR is 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 
    We announce our decision and the availability of the FONSI for the 
final CCP for Protection Island and San Juan Islands NWRs 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, which we included in the EA that accompanied the draft 
    The CCP will guide us in managing and administering Protection 
Island and San Juan Islands Refuges for the next 15 years. Alternative 
B, as we described in the final CCP, is the foundation for the CCP, 
with slight modifications.


    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Refuge Administration Act), as amended by the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, requires us to 
develop a CCP for each 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 
the Refuge Administration Act.

CCP Alternatives, Including Selected Alternative

    Our draft CCP and our EA (75 FR 51098) addressed several issues. To 
address these, we developed and evaluated the following alternatives:

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. Recreational activities 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, but would also include a greater number of active 
habitat management projects, such as removal of deer from Protection 
Island to enhance seabird nesting

[[Page 19782]]

habitat and forest habitat; carrying out of restoration projects on the 
spits, grasslands, and forests to increase native plant diversity; and 
facilitation of research studies that answer refuge management 
questions. Public use changes include enforcing no-pets regulations on 
all San Juan Islands Refuge lands, and closing some areas on Turn 
Island, including all of the rocky shoreline to the east and the 
southeast ``pocket'' beach, as well as some 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. 
Regulatory signs on both refuges would be updated with improved wording 
and sizing to enhance their effectiveness. 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. However, under 
Alternative C there would be fewer acres of native habitat restoration, 
as well as fewer research studies and surveys. Camping would continue, 
but with fewer campsites on Matia Island. 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.


    We requested comments on the draft CCP and the EA for Protection 
Island and San Juan Islands NWRs from August 13, 2010, to September 17, 
2010 (75 FR 51098). We sent notification to over 700 individuals and 
organizations on our mailing list for this CCP, provided the draft CCP 
and EA on the Regional Web site, and provided a press release to local 
media. We received over 40 letters and e-mails from the public. Based 
on a thorough evaluation of the public comments we received, we 
slightly modified the CCP/EA. Changes include modifications to several 
CCP strategies, including:
     We will begin coordination with Treaty Tribes regarding 
step-down planning for deer removal on Protection Island;
     We will perform additional monitoring of visitors' use 
before deciding whether to initiate a new camping reservation system;
     We added several potential partners to Appendix G; and
     We updated Appendix E, the Integrated Pest Management 
Program, with information from a new Service policy (569 FW 1).

Selected Alternative

    After considering the comments we received, we have selected 
Alternative B for implementation. Under Alternative B, the Service and 
partners will:
     Protect, maintain, and where feasible, restore habitats--
including shoreline, sandy bluffs, grasslands and balds, forests and 
woodlands, and wetlands--for priority species, including seabirds, 
shorebirds, bald eagles, marine mammals, and endemic plants.
     Minimize human-caused wildlife disturbance on and near 
closed refuge islands, rocks, and shorelines.
     Manage invasive species and State- and county-listed 
noxious weeds.
     Survey and protect paleontological and cultural resources.
     Increase inventory and monitoring efforts.
     Encourage and facilitate research that addresses refuge 
management questions.
     Design and implement a site plan for refuge administration 
and research facilities on Protection Island in order to reduce the 
human ``footprint,'' improve refuge management capability, improve 
research coordination, and reduce liquid fuel consumption by expanding 
solar power capabilities.
     Reduce the number of campsites on Turn Island and limit 
camping on both Turn and Matia Islands to visitors arriving by human-
powered boats.
     Enhance and increase on- and off-refuge environmental 
education and interpretation, as well as wildlife observation and 
photography opportunities.
     Increase outreach to boaters, schoolchildren, local 
residents, and tourists.
     Use signs and other management techniques efficiently and 
effectively on wilderness rocks and islands to assist in maintaining 
their wildlife and intrinsic values while minimizing impacts to 
wilderness character.

Public Availability of Documents

    In addition to the methods in ADDRESSES, you can view documents at 
the following libraries:

             Library                     Address            Phone No.
Anacortes Public Library.........  1220 10th Street,        360-293-1910
                                    Anacortes, WA
Bellingham Public Library........  210 Central Avenue       360-778-7323
                                    Bellingham, WA
Clinton Public Library...........  4781 Deer Lake           360-341-4280
                                    Road, Clinton, WA
Coupeville Public Library........  788 NW. Alexander,       360-678-4911
                                    Coupeville, WA
Evergreen State College Library..  2700 Evergreen           360-867-6250
                                    Parkway NW.,
                                    Olympia, WA 98505.
Island Public Library............  2144 S. Nugent           360-758-7145
                                    Road, Lummi
                                    Island, WA 98262.
Jefferson County Central Library.  P.O. Box 990, Port       360-385-6544
                                    Hadlock, WA 98339.
Lopez Island Public Library......  2225 Fisherman Bay       360-468-2265
                                    Rd., Lopez Island,
                                    WA 98261.
North Olympic Public Library.....  630 N. Sequim Ave.,      360-683-1161
                                    Sequim, WA 98382.
Oak Harbor Public Library........  1000 SE. Regatta         360-675-5115
                                    Dr., Oak Harbor,
                                    WA 98377.
Orcas Island Public Library......  500 Rose St.,            360-376-4985
                                    Eastsound, WA
Peninsula College Library........  1502 E. Lauridsen        360-417-6280
                                    Blvd., Port
                                    Angeles, WA 98362.
San Juan Islands Library.........  1010 Guard St.,          360-378-2798
                                    Friday Harbor, WA
Shaw Island Library..............  P.O. Box 844, Shaw                N/A
                                    Island, WA 98286.
University of Puget Sound Library  1500 N. Warner St.       253-879-3669
                                    Campus, Mail Box
                                    1021 Tacoma, WA
University of Washington Library.  Box 3529000,             206-543-0242
                                    Seattle, WA 98195.
Waldron Island Library...........  Waldron Island, WA.      360-588-3383
Washington State Library.........  P.O. Box 424,            360-704-5250
                                    Olympia, WA 98504.
Washington State University        Owen Science             509-335-6691
 Library.                           Library,
                                    Washington State
                                    Pullman, WA 99164.
Western Washington University....  516 High St.,            360-650-3050
                                    Bellingham, WA

[[Page 19783]]

    Dated: December 21, 2010.
Richard R. Hannan,
Acting Regional Director, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2011-8418 Filed 4-7-11; 8:45 am]