[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 77 (Tuesday, April 22, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 22528-22529]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-09092]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R9-R-2011-N030; 93261-1263-000-5C]
RIN 1018-AX35


Friends Policy for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce that we 
have established a Friends policy, the purpose of which is to assist 
Service employees in achieving our mission more efficiently and 
effectively by increasing community involvement through partnerships 
with nonprofit Friends organizations (Friends). The policy includes 
guidance on the relationship between the Service and Friends, Service 
employee responsibilities, financial and administrative practices, 
Friends Partnership Agreements, and revenue generating operations.

DATES: This policy is in effect as of April 4, 2014.

ADDRESSES: The Friends policy is available at www.fws.gov/refuges/friends and in the Fish and Wildlife Service Manual at: www.fws.gov/policy/manuals/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Joanna Webb, Visitor Services, 
National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 
North Fairfax Drive, Room 635, Arlington, VA 22203; Telephone: 703-358-
2392.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

    We have established a final Friends policy, which is available at 
www.fws.gov/refuges/friends and in the Service Manual at www.fws.gov/policy/manuals/.
    We have incorporated this policy as part 633, chapters 1-4 of the 
Fish and Wildlife Service Manual. The purpose of the policy is to 
assist Service employees in achieving our mission more efficiently and 
effectively by increasing community involvement through partnerships 
with nonprofit Friends. The policy includes guidance on the 
relationship between the Service and Friends organizations, Service 
employee responsibilities, financial and administrative practices, 
Friends Partnership Agreements, and revenue-generating operations.

Background

    While these chapters are written to implement specific provisions 
of the National Wildlife Refuge System Volunteer and Community 
Partnership Enhancement Act of 1998 (Pub. L. 105-242, 112 Stat. 1574), 
and the National Fish Hatchery System Volunteer Act of 2006 (Pub. L. 
109-360), they also provide direction and administrative procedures for 
other divisions of the Service seeking to establish and work with 
Friends organizations.
    The two Acts together encourage the National Wildlife Refuge and 
Hatchery Systems to enter into partnerships with non-Federal entities 
such as Friends organizations to promote public awareness of Service 
resources and facilitate public participation in the conservation of 
those resources, and to accept donations of funds and other 
contributions by people and organizations through partnerships with 
non-Federal entities such as Friends organizations. We based this 
policy on these statutory requirements.
    The National Friends Program (National Refuge System) was 
established in 1996 to encourage and organize community involvement in 
refuge activities. The program works to expand the number and 
effectiveness of community-based Friends organizations, which assist 
with increasing visibility and support for refuges, the Refuge System, 
and conservation. During the last decade, the Friends program has grown 
substantially in size and complexity, with approximately 200 Refuge 
Friends organizations and 30 Fisheries Friends organizations, with a 
combined estimated total of 40-60,000 members. These organizations 
significantly strengthen refuges and fish hatcheries across the country 
and help the Service fulfill its mission.

Final Policy

    We recognize that Friends provide many vital services to our sites 
and programs. This policy provides guidance on roles and 
responsibilities for the Service to enter into partnerships and work 
with Friends organizations. The purpose of this policy is to provide 
Service employees with guidance when working with Friends 
organizations.
    Chapter 1 of this policy identifies the legal authorities under 
which the Service must work with Friends organizations, describes the 
relationship between the Service and Friends organizations, and 
describes the responsibilities of Service employees and Friends 
organizations.
    Chapter 2 describes the information we need when we consider the 
financial and administrative activities under Friends agreements, 
including the practices and activities that the Service may allow on 
Service-managed property.
    Chapter 3 describes the major components of and process for 
developing and modifying legal Friends Partnership Agreements between 
Friends organizations and the Service.
    Chapter 4 describes how we work with Friends organizations to 
manage revenue-generating operations on Service property.

Summary of Comments and Changes to the Final Policy

    On October 18, 2010, we announced the draft of this policy and 
requested public comments via a Federal Register notice (75 FR 63851). 
The comment period was open from October 18, 2010, through December 2, 
2010. On March 9, 2011, we opened a second public comment period, which 
went through April 8, 2011 (76 FR 12989). In total, we received 
approximately 40 comment letters on the draft policy. The letters 
included a total of approximately 500 individual comments on the draft 
policy. The comments were from Federal and State government agencies, 
nongovernmental organizations, and individuals. Most of the comments 
addressed specific elements, while some comments expressed general 
support,

[[Page 22529]]

without addressing specific elements. We considered all of the 
information and recommendations for improvement included in the 
comments and made appropriate changes to the draft policy. We also made 
some additions and clarifications to the policy that were not addressed 
in the public comments, but were discovered through internal briefings 
and reviews during the policy revision period.

    Dated: April 7, 2014.
Daniel M. Ashe,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-09092 Filed 4-21-14; 8:45 am]
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