[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 30 (Wednesday, February 13, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 8362-8363]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 08-628]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service


Protecting and Restoring Native Ecosystems by Managing Non-Native 
Ungulates Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii; Notice of Intent To 
Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement

SUMMARY: In accord with Sec.  102(2)(C) of the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (Pub. L. 91-90), the National Park Service is 
undertaking a conservation planning and environmental impact analysis 
process for a Non-native Ungulate Management Plan for Hawaii Volcanoes 
National Park. The purpose of the plan is to refine the strategies for 
managing non-native ungulates that supports long-term ecosystem 
protection, recovery and restoration of native vegetation and other 
natural resources, and protects and preserves cultural resources. Non-
native ungulate management is needed to address unacceptable impacts of 
non-native ungulates, which result in the loss of native ecosystems, 
especially native plant and animal communities; the loss of sensitive 
endemic species, including state and federally listed species; and the 
loss of irreplaceable cultural resources. The park also needs to update 
non-native ungulate management in order to address NPS Management 
Policies 2006, Sec.  4.4.4, Management of Exotic Species, which states 
that non-native species will not be allowed to displace native species 
if displacement can be prevented.
    Background Information; Ungulates, or mammals with hooves, are an 
issue of concern throughout the State of Hawaii because of these are 
non-native species which have detrimental impacts on native diversity 
and ecosystems. Non-native species are those that do not naturally 
occur in the ecosystem and were introduced into the environment from 
elsewhere. Goats, European pigs, sheep, and cattle were introduced to 
the Hawaiian Islands in the late eighteenth century and have become 
feral. Mouflon sheep were introduced to Hawaii Island in the twentieth 
century as a game animal. Populations of non-native ungulates have 
proliferated in Hawaii because of an equable climate, abundant food 
sources, vegetation poorly adapted to herbivorous mammals, and lack of 
predators.
    Because the ecosystems of the Hawaiian Islands evolved without 
large mammalian herbivores, they are particularly vulnerable to the 
effects of non-native ungulates. Non-native ungulates cause habitat 
degradation and population decline for native Hawaiian species. They 
impact native species through browsing, stripping bark, destroying 
habitat, and inhibiting regeneration. Non-native ungulates increase 
soil disturbance and erosion, and foster the spread of non-native 
plants.
    Non-native ungulates also have the potential to affect cultural 
resources at the park, which include archeological sites, cultural 
landscapes, and ethnographic resources. Digging and rooting could 
impact archeological sites through ground disturbance. Alterations in 
the ecosystem of an area could impact the characteristics that 
contribute to its designation as a cultural landscape. Traditional uses 
of native peoples could be impacted by the loss of native plant and 
animal communities important to their culture.
    The park was created in 1916, and has been addressing populations 
of non-native species, including ungulates, since the 1920s. However, 
the park's most recent EIS addressing non-native ungulate control was 
completed 30 years ago. Consequently the new EIS/plan will address non-
native ungulate management in the context of NPS policies updated in 
2006, recent park land acquisition, new invasive species challenges, 
and currently available strategies for managing ungulates.
    Scoping Process: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the National 
Park Service (NPS) are eliciting early public comment regarding the 
full spectrum of issues and public concerns, the nature and extent of 
potential environmental impacts (and as appropriate, mitigation 
measures), and all feasible management alternatives which should be 
considered by the planning team in preparing a Draft EIS/plan. Through 
outreach activities planned in the scoping phase, the NPS welcomes 
relevant information and suggestions from the public. Publication of 
this Notice formally initiates the public scoping phase for the EIS 
process.
    All written scoping comments must be postmarked or transmitted not 
later than May 19, 2008. Written comments may be sent to: Cindy 
Orlando, Superintendent, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, P.O. Box 52, 
Hawai'i National Park, HI 96718-0052. Alternatively, comments may also 
be transmitted electronically through the NPS Planning, Environment and 
Public Comment project Web site at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/HAVO. 
Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other 
personal identifying information in your comment, you would be aware 
that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us to withhold your personal identifying information from public 
review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    At this time, it is expected that public meetings will be hosted in 
the towns of Hilo (April 29), Na'alehu (April 30), and Kona (May 1). 
All meetings will be conducted in an open house format from 5 p.m. to 8 
p.m. Detailed information regarding the meetings will be included in an 
announcement posted on the project Web site, and also publicized in 
direct mailings and via

[[Page 8363]]

local and regional press media. All attendees will be given the 
opportunity to ask questions and provide comments to the planning team. 
The Web site noted above will provide the most up-to-date information 
regarding the project, including project description, planning process 
updates, meeting reports and documents, and informational links 
associated with the project.
    Decision Process: Following the scoping phase and due consideration 
of public concerns and other agency comments, a Draft EIS for the Non-
native Ungulate Management Plan will be prepared and released for 
public review. Availability of the forthcoming Draft EIS for pubic 
review and written comment will be formally announced through the 
publication of a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register, as 
well as through local and regional news media, direct mailing to the 
project mailing list, and via the internet at the project Web site. At 
this time it is expected that the Draft EIS/plan may be available for 
public release during summer-fall, 2009. Following due consideration of 
all agency and public comment as may be forthcoming after release of 
the draft document, a Final EIS will be prepared. As a delegated EIS, 
the official responsible for the final decision on the proposed non-
native ungulate management plan is the Regional Director, Pacific West 
Region, National park Service. Subsequently, the official directly 
responsible for implementation of the approved plan would be the 
Superintendent, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.

    Dated: December 3, 2007.
Jonathan B. Jarvis,
Regional Director, Pacific West Region.
[FR Doc. 08-628 Filed 2-12-08; 8:45 am]
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