Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 closes national wildlife refuges in all States except Alaska to all uses until opened. The Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) may open refuge areas to any use, including hunting and/or sport fishing, upon a determination that such uses are compatible with the purposes of the refuge and National Wildlife Refuge System (Refuge System or our/we) mission. The action also must be in accordance with provisions of all laws applicable to the areas, developed in coordination with the appropriate State fish and wildlife agency(ies), consistent with the principles of sound fish and wildlife management and administration, and otherwise in the public interest. These requirements ensure that we maintain the biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health of the Refuge System for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.
We annually review refuge hunting and sport fishing programs to determine whether to include additional refuges or whether individual refuge regulations governing existing programs need modifications. Changing environmental conditions, State and Federal regulations, and other factors affecting fish and wildlife populations and habitat may warrant modifications to refuge-specific regulations to ensure the continued compatibility of hunting and sport fishing programs and to ensure that these programs will not materially interfere with or detract from the fulfillment of refuge purposes or the Refuge System's mission.
Provisions governing hunting and sport fishing on refuges are in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations in part 32 (50 CFR part 32). We regulate hunting and sport fishing on refuges to:
• Ensure compatibility with refuge purpose(s);
• Properly manage the fish and wildlife resource(s);
• Protect other refuge values;
• Ensure refuge visitor safety; and
• Provide opportunities for quality fish- and wildlife-dependent recreation.
On many refuges where we decide to allow hunting and sport fishing, our general policy of adopting regulations identical to State hunting and sport fishing regulations is adequate in meeting these objectives. On other refuges, we must supplement State regulations with more-restrictive Federal regulations to ensure that we meet our management responsibilities, as outlined in the “Statutory Authority” section. We issue refuge-specific hunting and sport fishing regulations when we open wildlife refuges to migratory game bird hunting, upland game hunting, big game hunting, or sport fishing. These regulations list the wildlife species that you may hunt or fish, seasons, bag or creel (container for carrying fish) limits, methods of hunting or sport fishing, descriptions of areas open to hunting or sport fishing, and other provisions as appropriate. You may find previously issued refuge-specific regulations for hunting and sport fishing in 50 CFR part 32. In this rulemaking, we are also proposing to standardize and clarify the language of existing regulations.
The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 [Improvement Act]) (Administration Act), and the Refuge Recreation Act of 1962 (16 U.S.C. 460k-460k-4) (Recreation Act) govern the administration and public use of refuges.
Amendments enacted by the Improvement Act, built upon the Administration Act in a manner that provides an “organic act” for the Refuge System, are similar to those that exist for other public Federal lands. The Improvement Act serves to ensure that we effectively manage the Refuge System as a national network of lands, waters, and interests for the protection and conservation of our Nation's wildlife resources. The Administration Act states first and foremost that we focus our Refuge System mission on conservation of fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats. The Improvement Act requires the Secretary, before allowing a new use of a refuge, or before expanding, renewing, or extending an existing use of a refuge, to determine that the use is compatible with the purpose for which the refuge was established and the mission of the Refuge System. The Improvement Act established as the policy of the United States that wildlife-dependent recreation, when compatible, is a legitimate and appropriate public use of the Refuge System, through which the American public can develop an appreciation for fish and wildlife. The Improvement Act established six wildlife-dependent recreational uses as the priority general public uses of the Refuge System. These uses are: hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation.
The Recreation Act authorizes the Secretary to administer areas within the Refuge System for public recreation as an appropriate incidental or secondary use only to the extent that doing so is practicable and not inconsistent with the primary purpose(s) for which Congress and the Service established the areas. The Recreation Act requires that any recreational use of refuge lands be compatible with the primary purpose(s) for which we established the refuge and not inconsistent with other previously authorized operations.
The Administration Act and Recreation Act also authorize the Secretary to issue regulations to carry out the purposes of the Acts and regulate uses.
We develop specific management plans for each refuge prior to opening it to hunting or sport fishing. In many cases, we develop refuge-specific regulations to ensure the compatibility of the programs with the purpose(s) for which we established the refuge and the Refuge System mission. We ensure initial compliance with the Administration Act and the Recreation Act for hunting and sport fishing on newly acquired refuges through an interim determination of compatibility made at or near the time of acquisition. These regulations ensure that we make the determinations required by these acts prior to adding refuges to the lists of areas open to hunting and sport fishing in 50 CFR part 32. We ensure continued compliance by the
In the July 11, 2012,
The only migratory game bird hunting currently or historically allowed on Hagerman NWR is for mourning dove. We have allowed mourning dove hunting by shotguns only in the Big Mineral Management Unit of Hagerman NWR from September 1 through 30, annually, since 1985.
In Texas, the Statewide falconry season for doves is from mid-November to mid-December (dates fluctuate annually). This is outside of the refuge's open season for dove hunting, and during this time, limited permit archery deer hunting is in progress at the refuge. By law, refuges may be more conservative than the States when setting their individual refuge-specific regulations but not more liberal.
Regarding policy specific to falconry, Service policy 605 FW 2.7M Special Hunts, stipulates, “We will address special types of hunts, such as falconry, in the hunt section of the visitor service plan (VSP).” In other words, each refuge manager when developing their step-down visitor service's plan (which would include a hunt plan, if appropriate) from their Comprehensive Conservation Plan, must first determine if hunting is compatible. Assuming it is found to be compatible, the refuge manager would next determine the conduct of the hunt which might include the use of falconry. A refuge manager has discretion to prohibit hunting, and specifically falconry, in certain cases such as if endangered or threatened species are present; thus, this issue is decided individually on a refuge-by-refuge basis.
Other than the issue of our dove season falling outside of the State of Texas' season for falconry, there is concern regarding the potential take of nontarget species if we allowed falconry for migratory game bird hunting at Hagerman NWR. For example, mourning doves and Inca doves (which occur around Hagerman NWR) are similar in appearance and size, with the mourning dove being only slightly larger. While mourning doves are a legal species to hunt, Inca doves are a protected species. Also, bird species listed as federally or State threatened or endangered, including interior least tern (nesting site) and piping plover, forage on the refuge during spring and fall migration. We are making no change to the regulation as a result of this comment.
We make every attempt to collect all of the proposals from the refuges nationwide and process them expeditiously to maximize the time available for public review. We believe that a 30-day comment period, through the broader publication following the earlier public involvement, gives the public sufficient time to comment and allows us to establish hunting and fishing programs in time for the upcoming seasons. Many of these rules also relieve restrictions and allow the public to participate in wildlife-dependent recreational activities for the first time on a number of refuges. Even after issuance of a final rule, we accept comments, suggestions, and concerns for consideration for any appropriate subsequent rulemaking. We are making no changes to the regulation as a result of this comment.
As for fishing tackle, there are nontoxic fishing weights (split shots) for use in nontidal waters that are readily available on the marketplace. Many anglers use fishing tackle made from nontoxic materials such as tin, bismuth, steel, and tungsten, alternatives which are found in all 50 States. Many of our refuges have banned lead sinkers for years. Of the 94 refuges in this rulemaking, currently 7 of them ban lead tackle and 19 do not offer fishing.
Lead is a toxic metal that, in sufficient quantities, has adverse effects on the nervous and reproductive systems of animals and can be lethal to wildlife if ingested, even in small amounts. We continue to look at options and ways to reduce the indirect impacts of toxic shot to scavengers. We are and have been phasing out the use of lead shot by hunters on refuge lands.
As part of the Service's effort in Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation (a vision document for the National Wildlife Refuge System developed in 2011), there are several implementation teams that will consider developing and implementing education products on the dangers of lead shot and fishing tackle. We invite and encourage the involvement of those interested parties in developing outreach elements relating to the dangers of toxicity in our continuing efforts to educate the public on alternative ammunition and fishing tackle.
The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 directs us to make refuge regulations as consistent with State regulations as practicable. We share a strong partnership with the States in managing wildlife, and, therefore, we are proceeding with the phase-out of toxic ammunition and tackle in a coordinated manner with the respective State wildlife agency. There were no changes to this rulemaking as a result of these comments.
This rule is effective upon publication in the
This document codifies in the Code of Federal Regulations all of the Service's hunting and/or sport fishing regulations that are applicable at Refuge System units previously opened to hunting and/or sport fishing. We are doing this to better inform the general public of the regulations at each refuge, to increase understanding and compliance with these regulations, and to make enforcement of these regulations more efficient. In addition to now finding these regulations in 50 CFR part 32, visitors to our refuges will usually find them reiterated in literature distributed by each refuge or posted on signs.
We have cross-referenced a number of existing regulations in 50 CFR parts 26, 27, 28, and 32 to assist hunting and sport fishing visitors with understanding safety and other legal requirements on refuges. This redundancy is deliberate, with the intention of improving safety and compliance in our hunting and sport fishing programs.
We are closing and reserving big game hunting on the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge in the State of Hawaii. We opened the Maulua tract (2,000 acres) of Hakalau Forest NWR to the public for pig and cattle hunting in 1991 (with most of the area never hunted) but closed it in 2000 as hunting had reduced the pig population to such low numbers as to provide an unacceptable hunting experience. As there were few cattle, they were quickly removed. We have received no requests for approval to hunt on Hakalau Forest NWR since 2000.
We are closing and reserving migratory bird game hunting on Santee National Wildlife Refuge in the State of South Carolina. The refuge will remain open both for upland and big game hunting as well as for sport fishing. The refuge established a mourning dove hunt in 1975 when historic land management practices on the refuge were productive for both resident and migratory mourning dove habitat. We farmed over 500 acres of corn, wheat, and soybean annually in the Cuddo Unit of the refuge. Over time, however, land management practices and objectives for habitat management adapted and changed, and farming practices are now minimal. Without habitat suitable for mourning dove or the hunting of mourning dove, the refuge has had no public interest in the morning dove hunt. There have been no recorded mourning dove hunting visits since 2003.
We also added Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District in the State of Nebraska to the list of refuges in part 32. As set forth in 50 CFR 32.1 and 32.4, “Lands acquired as `waterfowl production areas' shall annually be open to the hunting of migratory game birds, upland game, big game and sport fishing subject to the provisions of State law and regulations and the pertinent provisions of parts 25 through 31 of this subchapter:
The changes for the 2012-13 hunting/fishing season noted in the chart above
For health reasons, anglers should review and follow State-issued consumption advisories before enjoying recreational sport fishing opportunities on Service-managed waters. You can find information about current fish consumption advisories on the internet at:
In this rule we made some of the revisions to the individual refuge units to comply with a Presidential mandate to use plain language in regulations; as such, these particular revisions do not modify the substance of the previous regulations. These types of changes include using “you” to refer to the reader and “we” to refer to the Refuge System, using the word “allow” instead of “permit” when we do not require the use of a permit for an activity, and using active voice (i.e., “We restrict entry into the refuge” vs. “Entry into the refuge is restricted”).
Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. OIRA has determined that this rule is not significant.
Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where those approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further that we must base regulations on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements.
Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act [SBREFA] of 1996) (5 U.S.C. 601
This rule adds 1 national wildlife refuge to the list of refuges open to hunting, increases hunting activities on 16 national wildlife refuges, closes 1 national wildlife refuge that was previously open to hunting, and closes 1 hunting activity previously open at 1 national wildlife refuge. As a result, visitor use for wildlife-dependent recreation on these national wildlife refuges will change. If the refuges establishing new programs were a pure addition to the current supply of such activities, it would mean an estimated increase of 7,960 user days (one person per day participating in a recreational opportunity) (Table 2). Because the participation trend is flat in these activities since 1991, this increase in supply will most likely be offset by other sites losing participants. Therefore, this is likely to be a substitute site for the activity and not necessarily an increase in participation rates for the activity.
To the extent visitors spend time and money in the area of the refuge that they would not have spent there anyway, they contribute new income to the regional economy and benefit local businesses. Due to the unavailability of site-specific expenditure data, we use the national estimates from the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation to identify expenditures for food and lodging, transportation, and other incidental expenses. Using the average expenditures for these categories with the maximum expected additional participation of the Refuge System yields approximately $259,700 in recreation-related expenditures (Table 2). By having ripple effects throughout the economy, these direct expenditures are only part of the economic impact of these recreational activities. Using a national impact multiplier for hunting activities (2.67) derived from the report “Economic Importance of Hunting in America” yields a total economic impact of approximately $693,500 (2011 dollars) (Southwick Associates, Inc., 2007). Using a local impact multiplier would yield more accurate and smaller results. However, we employed the national impact multiplier due to the difficulty in developing local multipliers for each specific region.
Since we know that most of the fishing and hunting occurs within 100 miles of a participant's residence, then it is unlikely that most of this spending would be “new” money coming into a local economy; therefore, this spending would be offset with a decrease in some other sector of the local economy. The net gain to the local economies would be no more than $693,500, and most likely considerably less. Since 80 percent of the participants travel less than 100 miles to engage in hunting and fishing activities, their spending patterns would not add new money into the local economy and, therefore, the real impact would be on the order of about $138,700 annually.
Small businesses within the retail trade industry (such as hotels, gas stations, taxidermy shops, bait and tackle shops, etc.) may be impacted from some increased or decreased refuge visitation. A large percentage of these retail trade establishments in the local communities around national wildlife refuges qualify as small businesses. We expect that the incremental recreational changes will be scattered, and so we do not expect that the rule would have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities in any region or nationally. As noted previously, we expect approximately $259,700 to be spent in total in the refuges' local economies. The maximum increase at most would be less than one-tenth of 1 percent for local retail trade spending (Table 3).
With the small change in overall spending anticipated from this rule, it is unlikely that a substantial number of small entities would have more than a small impact from the spending change near the affected refuges. Therefore, we certify that this rule would not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601
The rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. We anticipate no significant employment or small business effects. This rule:
a. Will not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. The minimal impact will be scattered across the country and would most likely not be significant in any local area.
b. Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers; individual industries; Federal, State, or local government agencies; or geographic regions. This rule will have only a slight effect on the costs of hunting opportunities for Americans. If the substitute sites are farther from the participants' residences, then an increase in travel costs would occur. The Service does not have information to quantify this change in travel cost but assumes that, since most people travel less than 100 miles to hunt, the increased travel cost would be small. We do not expect this rule to affect the supply or demand for hunting opportunities in the United States and, therefore, it should not affect prices for hunting equipment and supplies, or the retailers that sell equipment.
c. Will not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of United States-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. This rule represents only a small proportion of recreational spending at national wildlife refuges. Therefore, this rule will have no measurable economic effect on the wildlife-dependent industry, which has annual sales of equipment and travel expenditures of $72 billion nationwide.
Since this rule applies to public use of federally owned and managed refuges, it will not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, or Tribal governments or the private sector of more than $100 million per year. The rule will not have a significant or unique effect on State, local, or Tribal governments or the private sector. A statement containing the information required by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1531
In accordance with E.O. 12630, this rule does not have significant takings implications. This regulation affects only visitors at national wildlife refuges and describes what they can do while they are on a refuge.
As discussed in the Regulatory Planning and Review and Unfunded Mandates Reform Act sections above, this rule does not have sufficient Federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment under E.O. 13132. In preparing this rule, we worked with State governments.
In accordance with E.O. 12988, the Office of the Solicitor has determined that the rule does not unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. The regulation clarifies established regulations and will result in better understanding of the regulations by refuge visitors.
On May 18, 2001, the President issued E.O. 13211 on regulations that significantly affect energy supply, distribution, and use. E.O. 13211 requires agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. Because this rule increases activities at 16 refuges, closes hunting at one refuge, stops one hunt at
In accordance with E.O. 13175, we have evaluated possible effects on federally recognized Indian tribes and have determined that there are no effects. We coordinate recreational use on national wildlife refuges with Tribal governments having adjoining or overlapping jurisdiction before we propose the regulations.
This regulation does not contain any information collection requirements other than those already approved by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501
We comply with section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531
We analyzed this rule in accordance with the criteria of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4332(C)), 43 CFR part 46, and 516 Departmental Manual (DM) 8.
A categorical exclusion from NEPA documentation applies to publication of amendments to refuge-specific hunting and fishing regulations since they are technical and procedural in nature, and the environmental effects are too broad, speculative, or conjectural to lend themselves to meaningful analysis (43 CFR 46.210 and 516 DM 8). Concerning the actions that are the subject of this rulemaking, we have complied with NEPA at the project level when developing each proposal. This is consistent with the Department of the Interior instructions for compliance with NEPA where actions are covered sufficiently by an earlier environmental document (516 DM 3.2A).
Prior to the addition of a refuge to the list of areas open to hunting and fishing in 50 CFR part 32, we develop hunting and fishing plans for the affected refuges. We incorporate these refuge hunting and fishing activities in the refuge CCPs and/or other step-down management plans, pursuant to our refuge planning guidance in 602 Fish and Wildlife Service Manual (FW) 1, 3, and 4. We prepare these CCPs and step-down plans in compliance with section 102(2)(C) of NEPA, and the Council on Environmental Quality's regulations for implementing NEPA in 40 CFR parts 1500-1508. We invite the affected public to participate in the review, development, and implementation of these plans. Copies of all plans and NEPA compliance are available from the refuges at the addresses provided below.
Individual refuge headquarters have information about public use programs and conditions that apply to their specific programs and maps of their respective areas. To find out how to contact a specific refuge, contact the appropriate Regional office listed below:
Region 1—Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Eastside Federal Complex, Suite 1692, 911 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232-4181; Telephone (503) 231-6214.
Region 2—Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Box 1306, 500 Gold Avenue, Albuquerque, NM 87103; Telephone (505) 248-7419.
Region 3—Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1 Federal Drive, Federal Building, Fort Snelling, Twin Cities, MN 55111; Telephone (612) 713-5401. Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, 9311 Groh Road, Large Lakes Research Station, Grossle Ile, MI 43138; Telephone (734) 692-7608.
Region 4—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30345; Telephone (404) 679-7166.
Region 5—Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035-9589; Telephone (413) 253-8306.
Region 6—Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 134 Union Blvd., Lakewood, CO 80228; Telephone (303) 236-8145.
Region 7—Alaska. Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. Tudor Rd., Anchorage, AK 99503; Telephone (907) 786-3545.
Region 8—California and Nevada. Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2606, Sacramento, CA 95825; Telephone (916) 414-6464.
Leslie A. Marler, Management Analyst, Division of Conservation Planning and Policy, National Wildlife Refuge System is the primary author of this rulemaking document.
Fishing, Hunting, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Wildlife, Wildlife refuges.
For the reasons set forth in the preamble, we amend title 50, chapter I, subchapter C of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:
5 U.S.C. 301; 16 U.S.C. 460k, 664, 668dd-668ee, and 715i.