Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
With this notice, we continue the CCP process for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We started this process through a notice of intent in the
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge includes nearly 19.3 million acres, three wild rivers, and one of the largest areas of designated Wilderness in the United States. The rugged Brooks Range, with peaks and glaciers to 9,000 feet, extends east to west in a band 75 miles wide, rising abruptly from a tundra-covered plain. This treeless plain is cut by numerous braided rivers and streams. South of the continental divide, rivers wind serpentine courses through broad spruce-covered valleys dotted with lakes and sloughs. Nearly 180 species of birds, 45 species of mammals, and 36 species of fish have been documented on Arctic Refuge. Vast mountains, diverse wildlife, and a wealth of habitats give this unspoiled wildlife refuge high cultural-heritage, scenic, scientific, and wilderness values.
The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (94 Stat. 2371; ANILCA) 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 20 years in accordance with ANILCA.
We started the CCP for Arctic Refuge in April 2010. At that time and throughout the planning process, we requested public comments and considered and incorporated them in numerous ways. In April 2010, we mailed a planning newsletter to more than 2,000 individuals, agencies, and organizations describing the planning process for the CCP revision and telling the public how they could be informed or involved. It informed the public about the Refuge vision and draft goals identified by the planning team and Refuge staff. The newsletter contained a comment form that provided an opportunity for people to identify issues they thought should be addressed in the CCP or to provide suggestions on how best to accomplish Arctic Refuge purposes. The newsletter and comment form were also made available over the Internet.
To gather additional input from the public, members of the planning team and Refuge staff held eight public open house meetings—five in communities adjacent to or within the boundaries of the Arctic Refuge; one in Washington, DC; one in Anchorage, Alaska; and one in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Individuals and organizations provided 94,061 comments during the scoping process. The responses came in e-mails, Web forms, postcards, faxes, letters, and public hearing transcripts. Approximately 300 people spoke at meetings in 8 communities. The responses were reviewed, coded, and
(1) General comments expressing support for, or opposition to, wilderness designation and development within the Refuge;
(2) Analysis—These comments spoke to the scope and content of the draft CCP/EIS, with the major theme being the need to update studies and to employ effective monitoring and inventories. A minor theme was the adequacy of the studies—the data concerns related to climate change, wildlife, invasive plants, recreation, oil and gas, water, and air;
(3) Process—Commenters provided input on process considerations for CCP preparation, including comments on decisionmaking philosophy, outreach, public involvement process, public meetings, and the influence of politics and special interests in the process;
(4) Activities and Uses—The comments received covered four major areas of activities and uses:
• Commercial activities, either support or opposition—
• Government Activities—
• Private Activities; and
• Native/Tribal activities on the Refuge, including support or opposition to recreational activities, large groups and growing crowds, with comments focused on potential impacts of Refuge regulations and policies to Native Alaskans;
(5) Land and Resource Management—The focus of these comments included discussions about Refuge purposes and mandates (asking the Service to avoid changing or manipulating the natural environment in the Refuge); support for, and opposition to, further Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River designations; opposition to naming of features; and both ensuring compliance with Refuge treaties and agreements and concern from Alaska Natives that treaties have been used to manipulate their lifestyles;
(6) Legal Consistency—This category included comments about the legal consistency of various laws, treaties, and policies that affect the Refuge—
We have considered and evaluated these issues and public concerns, and we have used them to develop various aspects of the draft CCP/EIS, such as management objectives, management guidelines, and alternatives.
We developed and evaluated the following alternatives, summarized in the table below. A full description of each alternative is in the draft EIS.
In addition to any methods in
We will involve the public through open houses, hearings, meetings, and written comments. We will mail documents to our national and local Refuge mailing lists. Public open house meetings will be held in the communities of Arctic Village, Fort Yukon, Kaktovik, and Venetie, Alaska, and public hearings in will be held in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska. Dates, times, and locations of each meeting or open house will be announced in advance in local media.
We particularly seek comments on the following issues:
• Issue 1—Should one or more areas of the Arctic Refuge be recommended for Wilderness designation?
• Issue 2—Should additional Wild and Scenic Rivers be recommended for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River System?
• Issue 3—How will the Refuge manage Kongakut River visitor use to protect resources and visitor experience?
We consider comments substantive if they:
• Question, with reasonable basis, the accuracy of the information in the document;
• Question, with reasonable basis, the adequacy of the environmental assessment;
• Present reasonable alternatives other than those presented in the draft
CCP and the EIS; and/or
• Provide new or additional information relevant to the assessment.
After this comment period ends, we will analyze the comments and address them in the form of a final CCP and decision document.
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 personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.