[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 222 (Monday, November 17, 2008)]
[Pages 67876-67882]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-27014]



Fish and Wildlife Service

RIN 1018-AU27

Policy on Wilderness Stewardship

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We establish policy for implementing the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended, and the 
Wilderness Act of 1964 as Part 610 Chapters 1-5 of the Fish and 
Wildlife Service Manual. In the Wilderness Act, Congress called for the 
establishment of a National Wilderness Preservation System to secure an 
``enduring resource of wilderness'' for the American public. This 
policy updates guidance on administrative and public activities on 
wilderness within the National Wildlife Refuge System (Refuge System).

ADDRESSES: You may download a copy of this policy at: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/policyMakers/NWRpolicies.html or request a copy 
from: National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Attn: Nancy Roeper, National Wilderness Coordinator, 4401 North Fairfax 
Drive, Room 657, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-1929.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy Roeper, National Wilderness 
Coordinator, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 657, Arlington, Virginia 22203 
(telephone: 703-358-2389, fax: 703-358-1929).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We published a draft Wilderness Stewardship 
policy in the Federal Register on January 16, 2001 (66 FR 3708) and 
invited the public to provide comments on the draft policy by March 19, 
2001. During this comment period, we received several requests to 
extend the comment period. In response to these requests and in order 
to ensure that the public had an adequate opportunity to review and 
comment on the draft policy, we extended the comment period until April 
19, 2001 (66 FR 15136). We reopened the comment period from May 15 to 
June 14, 2001 (66 FR 26879). On June 21, 2001, we again reopened the 
comment period until June 30, 2001 (66 FR 33268), and corrected the May 
15, 2001, notice to reflect that comments received between April 19 and 
May 15, 2001, would be considered, and need not be resubmitted.
    During the 8 years since publication, we made numerous revisions to 
the draft Wilderness Stewardship policy based on public comments and on 
internal reviews and discussions by Service managers and staff. We also 
developed Intergovernmental Personnel Agreements (IPAs) with 
representatives from five States to facilitate an effective means of 
involving the State fish and wildlife agencies in the development and 
implementation of Refuge System policies and guidance, including the 
Wilderness Stewardship policy. The National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966, as amended in 1997 by the Improvement Act 
(16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee, as amended) (Administration Act), requires 
that, in administering the Refuge System, the Fish and Wildlife Service 
ensure effective coordination, interaction, and cooperation with State 
fish and wildlife agencies. (State employees under these agreements are 
on assignment to the Service, serve as Service staff, and are subject 
to the provisions of law governing the ethical and other conduct of 
Federal employees.)
    This policy is intended to improve the internal management of the 
Service, and it is not intended to, and does not, create any right or 
benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a 
party against the United States, its Departments, agencies, 
instrumentalities or entities, its officers or employees, or any other 

Purpose of This Policy and Authorities

    The purpose of this policy is to implement the Administration Act 
and the Wilderness Act of 1964, within the Refuge System. This policy 
replaces existing policy found in the Refuge Manual at 6 RM 8.
    The Administration Act provides a mission and goals for the Refuge 
System. As specially designated areas encompassed within the Refuge 
System, wilderness directly contributes to the fulfillment of the 
mission and goals by, for example, protecting a diversity of fish, 
wildlife, plants, and their habitats and providing opportunities for

[[Page 67877]]

compatible wildlife-dependent recreation.
    The Wilderness Act of 1964 (16 U.S.C. 1131-1136) provides the basis 
for wilderness protection of the Refuge System. It clearly establishes 
that, as we carry out the Service mission, the Refuge System mission 
and goals, and the individual refuge establishing purposes in areas 
designated as wilderness, we do so in a way that preserves wilderness 
character. This policy gives refuge managers uniform direction and 
procedures for making decisions regarding conservation and uses of the 
Refuge System wilderness areas and incorporates provisions of the 
Administration Act. The policy prescribes how the refuge manager 
preserves the character and qualities of designated wilderness while 
managing for refuge establishing purpose(s), maintaining outstanding 
opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of 
recreation, and conducting minimum requirements analyses before taking 
any action in wilderness.

United States Border Security

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has waived all of the 
requirements of a number of Federal statutes, including the 
Administration Act and the Wilderness Act, with respect to the 
construction of roads and fixed and mobile barriers in areas of high 
illegal entry in the vicinity of the southwestern U.S. border. See 73 
FR 19078 (April 8, 2008). None of the provisions of the Wilderness Act 
or the Service's policy on wilderness Stewardship apply to the 
activities determined by DHS to fall within the waiver. However, there 
may be other activities related to border security that are 
geographically removed from the areas of high illegal entry which are 
not covered by the DHS waiver. Where such an activity is proposed to be 
located within designated wilderness in the Refuge System and is a 
generally prohibited use under the Wilderness Act, the Service will 
conduct minimum requirement analyses. This will determine whether the 
proposed activities are necessary to administer the area as wilderness 
and to accomplish the purposes of the refuge, including Wilderness Act 

Policy Summary

    For clarity, we reorganized the content of the policy from seven 
chapters, as first published in 2001, into five chapters as explained 
in more detail in ``Summary of Comments and Changes to the Final 
Policy.'' It is now organized as follows:
    Chapter 1 identifies our priorities in implementing the policy, 
establishes the responsibility for wilderness stewardship, defines 
terms, describes the broad framework within which we manage wilderness, 
discusses the philosophical underpinnings of wilderness, and requires 
compliance with the requirements of the Wilderness Act. It also 
establishes a process for conducting minimum requirement analyses and 
establishes training requirements for specific Service employees.
    Chapter 2 addresses general administration, natural and cultural 
resource management, and public use management in wilderness. It 
clarifies the circumstances under which generally prohibited uses 
(temporary roads, motor vehicles, motorized equipment, motorboats, 
mechanical transport, landing of aircraft, structures, and 
installations) may be necessary for wilderness preservation. It 
addresses commercial uses, research, and public access. It affirms that 
we will generally not modify ecosystems, species population levels, or 
natural processes in refuge wilderness unless doing so maintains or 
restores biological integrity, diversity, or environmental health that 
has been degraded or is necessary to protect or recover threatened or 
endangered species. It describes how we respond to wildland fires and 
how we may use prescribed fire. It also explains that in wilderness 
areas, we will emphasize providing opportunities for solitude or a 
primitive and unconfined type of recreation. Appropriate recreational 
uses in wilderness include the six wildlife-dependent recreational uses 
(hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and 
environmental education and interpretation) identified in the 
Improvement Act if they are compatible and do not involve generally 
prohibited uses. The chapter also addresses special needs for persons 
with disabilities.
    Chapter 3 provides guidance on developing wilderness stewardship 
plans (WSP). The WSP is a step-down management plan that provides 
detailed strategies and implementation schedules for meeting the 
broader wilderness goals and objectives identified in the refuge 
comprehensive conservation plan. The WSP also includes minimum 
requirement analyses for all refuge management activities and 
compatibility determinations for refuge uses in the wilderness area.
    Chapter 4 describes the three-part process we follow in conducting 
wilderness reviews in accordance with the refuge planning process 
outlined in the planning policy (602 FW 1, 3, and 4). We conduct an 
inventory to identify areas that meet the basic definition of 
wilderness and carry out a study to evaluate all the values, resources, 
and uses within the area. The findings of the study determine whether 
we will recommend an area for designation as wilderness.
    Chapter 5 addresses special provisions of the Alaska National 
Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) (16 U.S.C. 4lOhh-3233, 43 
U.S.C. 1602-1784) for wilderness stewardship in Alaska. The chapter 
consolidates and adds to the provisions that were scattered throughout 
the policy in the previous draft.

Summary of Comments and Changes to the Final Policy

    We received approximately 4,130 comment letters in response to the 
2001 publication in the Federal Register. The comments were from 
Federal, State, and local government agencies; nongovernmental 
organizations; and individuals. Some comments addressed specific 
elements in the draft policy, while many comments expressed general 
support 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.
    In general, we combined chapters 1 and 2 of the proposed policy 
into chapter 1 (General Overview); combined chapters 3, 4, and 5 of the 
proposed policy into chapter 2 (Wilderness Administration and Resource 
Stewardship); renumbered chapter 6 as chapter 3 (Wilderness Stewardship 
Planning); and renumbered chapter 7 as chapter 4 (Wilderness Review and 
Evaluation). We added a new chapter 5 to cover special provisions for 
wilderness in Alaska, which were scattered throughout the draft policy.

Key to Changes From the 2001 Draft Policy to the Final Policy

    The following table compares the format of the 2001 draft and final 
policies. The table lists each section in chapters 1-5 of the final 
policy and indicates whether the section is new or where the 
information was located in the 2001 draft policy.

[[Page 67878]]

                                   Final policy                                          2001 Draft policy
                           Chapter 1 General Overview of Wilderness Stewardship Policy
1.1 What is the purpose of Part 610 and this chapter?                              1.1.
1.2 What does this chapter cover?                                                  1.2.
1.3 What are the authorities for this policy?                                      1.3.
1.4 What are the priorities in implementing this policy?                           New.
1.5 What do these terms mean?                                                      1.6.
1.6 Who is responsible for wilderness stewardship in the Service?                  1.4.
1.7 What is wilderness?                                                            New.
1.8 What are the purposes of the Wilderness Act?                                   2.7.
1.9 What is the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS)?                    New.
1.10 How does the Service coordinate stewardship of the NWPS with other Federal    2.19.
1.11 How does the Service coordinate wilderness stewardship with State fish arid   1.5.
 wildlife agencies?
1.12 What is the broad framework the Service uses to administer wilderness?        2.4.
1.13 What is wilderness character?                                                 2.5.
1.14 What are the principles for administering wilderness?                         2.6.
1.15 What is the relationship between wilderness stewardship and compatibility?    New.
1.16 What activities does the Service prohibit in wilderness?                      2.9, 2.11.
1.17 How do refuge managers accomplish both the establishing purpose(s) of a       2.8.
 refuge and the purposes of the Wilderness Act?
1.18 How does the Service determine if a proposed refuge management activity is    2.10, 2.15.
 the minimum requirement for administering the area as wilderness and necessary
 to accomplish the purposes the refuge, including Wilderness Act purposes?
1.19 When must the Refuge System conduct a minimum requirement analysis?           2.14.
1.20 Who makes minimum requirement decisions?                                      2.16.
1.21 What is the relationship of the Minimum Requirement Analysis to the           New.
 requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act?
1.22 What effects do emergencies have on the uses generally prohibited by the      2.13.
 Wilderness Act?
1.23 What effect does the Department of Homeland Security waiver of the            New.
 Administration Act and the Wilderness Act have on the uses generally prohibited
 by the Wilderness Act?
1.24 What are the training requirements for Refuge System staff?                   1.7.
1.25 What are the training requirements for Endangered Species and fisheries and   1.8.
 Habitat Conservation staff?
1.26 When should State employees attend wilderness training?                       1.9.
                          Chapter 2 Wilderness Administration and Resource Stewardship
2.1 What is the purpose of this chapter?                                           3.1.
2.2 What does this chapter cover?                                                  3.2.
2.3 What are the authorities that directly affect wilderness stewardship on        3.3.
 Service lands?
2.4 What is the Service's general policy for wilderness administration and the     3.4.
 stewardship of natural and cultural resources in wilderness?
2.5 Can the Service allow structures and installations in wilderness?              3.5A., 4.13.
2.6 Can the Service allow roads and trails in wilderness?                          3.5B. and C., 4.13H.
2.7 Can the Service allow use of motorized vehicles, motorized equipment, and      3.5D.
 mechanical transport in wilderness?
2.8 Can the Service manage aircraft use in and over wilderness?                    3.6A., 4.6E.
2.9 How does wilderness designation affect existing private rights?                New.
2.10 Can the Service authorize access through wilderness to non-Federal land       3.5E.
 where rights to access do not exist?
2.11 Can the Service authorize rights-of-way in wilderness?                        3.5G.
2.12 Can the Service authorize commercial enterprises and services in wilderness?  3.5F.
2.13 How does the Service manage permits for commercial services?                  3.5F.
2.14 Can the Service authorize mineral exploration and development activities in   3.5H.
 wilderness areas?
2.15 Will the Service propose names for geographic features in wilderness?         3.51.
2.16 How does the Service conserve wildlife and habitat in 2.12, wilderness?       3.6C.
2.17 Can the Service introduce, transplant, or stock fish, wildlife, and plants    3.6C.(3).
 in wilderness?
2.18 Can the Service use livestock grazing as a refuge management economic         3.6C.(2).
2.19 Can the Service control invasive species, pests, and diseases in wilderness?  3.6C.(4).
2.20 Can the Service control predation in wilderness?                              3.6C.(6).
2.21 What is the Service's general policy for managing wilderness fires?           5.4.
2.22 Can the Service manage wildland fire in wilderness?                           5.5.
2.23 Can the Service use prescribed fire in wilderness?                            5.6.
2.24 How does the Service accomplish emergency stabilization and rehabilitation    New.
 in wilderness following a wildfire?
2.25 How does the Service protect air resources in wilderness?                     3.6.D
2.26 How does the Service protect natural night skies and natural soundscapes in   New.
2.27 How does the Service conduct research in wilderness?                          3.6.A.
2.28 How does the Service conduct inventory and monitoring 3.6.B, activities in    4.12.
2.29 How does the Service protect cultural resources in wilderness?                3.7.
2.30 What are the Service's general public use guidelines 4.4, for wilderness?     4.5.
2.31 What types of public uses does the Service prohibit in wilderness?            4.6.
2.32 Can the Service allow use and grazing of recreational pack and saddle stock   4.6.C.
 in wilderness?
2.33 How does the Service address visitor safety in wilderness?                    4.9.
2.34 How does the Service enhance solitude or opportunities for primitive and      4.8.
 unconfined recreation in wilderness?
2.35 How can the Service best preserve a quality wilderness experience as well as  4.7.
 the wilderness itself?
2.36 How does the Service inform and educate the public about wilderness?          4.10.
2.37 What is the Leave No Trace (LNT) program?                                     2.17, 4.11.

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2.38 How does the Service address special needs for people with disabilities in    4.14.
                                    Chapter 3 Wilderness Stewardship Planning
3.1 What is the purpose of this chapter?                                           6.1.
3.2 What does this chapter cover?                                                  6.2.
3.3 What are the authorities that directly affect wilderness stewardship on        6.3.
 Service lands?
3.4 What is a wilderness stewardship plan (WSP)?                                   6.4, 6.5.
3.5 Does every wilderness area need a WSP?                                         6.6.
3.6 Can refuge managers prepare a WSP for wilderness study areas (WSA)             New.
 recommended for wilderness designation in a finalCCP, recommended wilderness
 areas, or proposed wilderness areas?
3.7 Can refuge managers combine other step-down management plans with the WSP?     New.
3.8 What should a WSP contain?                                                     6.7.
3.9 How does the Service coordinate with States, other Federal agencies, and       New.
 tribes in wilderness stewardship planning?
3.10 How does the Service involve the public in wilderness stewardship planning?   6.8.
3.11 How does the Service administer wilderness areas that do not have an          6.9.
 approved WSP?
3.12 May the Service decide to implement a WSP that was completed before           6.10.
 development of the refuge CCP?
3.13 How frequently should the Service revise WSPs?                                6.11.
3.14 How does wilderness stewardship planning work whenService wilderness adjoins  6.12.
 wilderness of another Federal agency?
                                   Chapter 4 Wilderness Review and Evaluation
4.1 What is the purpose of this chapter?                                           7.1.
4.2 What does this chapter cover?                                                  7.2.
4.3 What are the authorities that directly affect wilderness reviews and           7.3.
 management of WSAs, recommended wilderness, and proposed wilderness on Service
4.4 What is a wilderness review?                                                   7.4.
4.5 When should the Service conduct a wilderness review?                           7.5, 7.7.
4.6 How do wilderness reviews relate to acquisition planning?                      7.6.
4.7 How does the Service identify WSAs in the wilderness inventory?                7.8.
4.8 How does the Service evaluate the size criteria to identify a WSA during       7.9.
4.9 How does the Service evaluate the naturalness criteria to identify a WSA       7.10.
 during inventory?
4.10 How does the Service evaluate outstanding opportunities for solitude or a     7.11.
 primitive and unconfined type of recreation during inventory?
4.11 Must an area contain ecological, geological, or other features of             7.12.
 scientific, educational, scenic, or historic value to qualify as a WSA?
4.12 What factors does the Service consider when conducting a wilderness study?    7.13.
4.13 In the wilderness study, how does the Service evaluate whether a WSA can be   New.
 effectively managed as wilderness?
4.14 What is the relationship between the wilderness study conclusions and the     New.
 final CCP decisions?
4.15 What level of NEPA documentation does the Service require for wilderness      New.
4.16 How does the Service involve stakeholders in wilderness reviews?              New.
4.17 What is the process for the Director's review and approval of wilderness      7.14.
 recommendations in CCPs?
4.18 What is included in the wilderness study report?                              7.15.
4.19 What additional documents does the Service need to prepare for Secretarial    7.16.
 approval of the wilderness recommendation?
4.20 What are the steps for forwarding or reporting the Service's wilderness       7.14.
4.21 What is the Service's general policy for managing WSAs?                       7.17.
4.22 What is the Service's general policy for managing recommended wilderness?     New.
4.23 What is the Service's general policy for managing proposed wilderness?        7.18.
                               Chapter 5 Special Provisions for Alaska Wilderness
5.1 What is the purpose of this chapter?                                           New.
5.2 What does this chapter cover?                                                  New.
5.3 How do the other chapters in the Service's wilderness policy (610 FW 1-4)      1.2, 2.2, 3.2, 4.2, 5.2, 6.2,
 apply to Alaska wilderness?                                                        7.2.
5.4 How do the special provisions of ANILCA affect the need for a minimum          2.llA., 3.5A.(3), 3.5D.
 requirement analysis (MRA) for proposed refuge management activities and
 facilities in Alaska wilderness?
5.5 What special provisions apply to public access for traditional activities and  3.5E.(2).
 travel to and from villages and homesites?
5.6 What special provisions apply to access to inholdings in Alaska wilderness     3.5E.(1).
5.7 What special provisions apply to public access to subsistence resources?       2.18.
5.8 What special provisions apply to authorization of temporary access to non-     New.
 Federal lands?
5.9 What special provisions apply to helicopter access in Alaska wilderness        New.
5.10 What special provisions apply to rights-of-way for transportation and         3.5G.
 utility systems in and across Alaska wilderness areas?
5.11 What special provisions apply to assessment, exploration, and development of  3.5H.(1).
 mineral resources on Alaska wilderness areas?
5.12 Does the Service allow the use of motorized equipment in Alaska wilderness    3.5D.
5.13 What provisions apply to commercial enterprises and services in Alaska        3.5F.
 wilderness areas?
5.14 What special provisions apply to management of structures and installations   3.5A.
 in Alaska wilderness areas?

[[Page 67880]]

5.15 What temporary facilities and equipment related to the taking of fish and     1.6W., 3.5F.(l).
 wildlife does the Service authorize in Alaska wilderness areas?
5.16 What special provisions apply to management of fish populations on Alaska     New.
 wilderness areas?
5.17 Does the Service conduct wilderness reviews of refuge lands in Alaska?        New.
5.18 What is the Service's general policy for managing wilderness study areas      New.
 (WSAs), recommended wilderness, and proposed wilderness in Alaska?

    Required Determinations.
    Regulatory Planning and Review. The Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) has determined that this policy is significant and has reviewed 
this policy under Executive Order 12866 (E.O. 12866). OMB bases its 
determination upon the following four criteria:
    (a) Whether the policy will have an annual effect of $100 million 
or more on the economy or adversely affect an economic sector, 
productivity, jobs, the environment, or other units of the government.
    (b) Whether the policy will create inconsistencies with other 
Federal agencies' actions.
    (c) Whether the policy will materially affect entitlements, grants, 
user fees, loan programs, or the rights and obligations of their 
    (d) Whether the policy raises novel legal or policy issues.
    Regulatory Flexibility Act. Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act 
(as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
{SBREFA{time}  of 1996) (5 U.S.C. 601, et seq.), whenever a Federal 
agency is required to publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed 
or final policy, it must prepare and make available for public comment 
a regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the effect of the 
policy on small entities (i.e., small businesses, small organizations, 
and small government jurisdictions). However, no regulatory flexibility 
analysis is required if the head of an agency certifies that the policy 
would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. Thus, for a regulatory flexibility analysis to be 
required, impacts must exceed a threshold for ``significant impact'' 
and a threshold for a ``substantial number of small entities.'' See 5 
U.S.C. 605(b). SBREFA amended the Regulatory Flexibility Act to require 
Federal agencies to provide a statement of the factual basis for 
certifying that a policy would not have a significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities.
    This policy is administrative, legal, technical, and procedural in 
nature and provides updated instructions for the maintenance of 
wilderness areas on the National Wildlife Refuge System. This policy 
does not increase the types of recreation allowed on the System but 
establishes an emphasis on the characteristics desired for a wilderness 
experience. As a result, there may be opportunities for an increase in 
wilderness experiences on national wildlife refuges with designated 
wilderness areas. The changes in the wilderness areas are likely to 
increase visitor activity on these national wildlife refuges.
    From 1999 to 2003, the number of wilderness visitors averaged 
501,147 visitors annually, comprising about 1.3 percent of all refuge 
visitors. There are insufficient data to provide more than broad 
estimates about the effects of this updated policy on public use of 
wilderness areas on national wildlife refuges. The Service expects that 
refuges that improve the quality of their wilderness areas, and thereby 
increase the opportunities for high-quality wilderness experiences, 
will see an increase in public use. With this policy, the Service 
estimates that on balance there will be up to a 10 percent increase in 
the public's use of wilderness areas on refuges. Thus, we expect an 
increase of approximately 50,115 wilderness visitors annually.
    New recreational user days generate expenditures associated with 
recreational activities on refuges' wilderness areas. 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 trip-related expenditures for fishing, hunting, and wildlife 
watching activities with the maximum expected additional participation 
on the Refuge System yields approximately $1.8 million in wilderness-
related expenditures (50,115 days x $35.35 per day).
    By having ripple effects throughout the economy, these direct 
expenditures are only part of the economic impact of wilderness 
recreation. Using an average national impact multiplier for hunting and 
fishing activities (2.72) derived from the reports ``Economic 
Importance of Hunting in America'' and ``Sportfishing in America'' for 
the estimated increase in direct expenditures yields a total economic 
impact of approximately $4.8 million (2007 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 $4.8 million, 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. Furthermore, the probability of all 
refuges with wilderness programs being upgraded to true wilderness 
characteristics, as defined by Congress, is very low. Resource 
constraints have kept these refuges from upgrading wilderness 
experiences and it is unlikely that this updated policy will cause all 
refuges with wilderness designation to upgrade their programs 
immediately. As a result, the real impact would be on the order of 
$964,000 annually.
    Many small businesses within the retail trade industry (such as 
hotels, gas stations, taxidermy shops, bait and tackle shops, etc.) may 
benefit from increased refuge visitation. A large percentage of these 
retail trade establishments near the refuges most likely qualify as 
small businesses. We expect that the incremental recreational 
opportunities will be scattered across the refuges that offer 
wilderness recreational opportunities, and so we do not expect that the 
policy will have a significant economic effect (benefit) on a 
substantial number of small entities in any region or nationally.
    With the small increase in overall spending anticipated from this 
policy, it

[[Page 67881]]

is unlikely that a substantial number of small entities will have more 
than a small benefit from the increased spending near the affected 
refuges. Therefore, we certify that this policy will 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 et seq.). 
An initial/final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required. 
Accordingly, a Small Entity Compliance Guide is not required.
    Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. The policy is 
not a major policy under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory 
Enforcement Fairness Act. This policy:
    a. Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or 
more. The addition of some wilderness experience opportunities at 
refuges would generate expenditures by wilderness participants with an 
economic impact estimated at $964,000 million per year. Consequently, 
the maximum benefit of this policy for businesses both small and large 
would not be sufficient to make this a major policy. The impact would 
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 policy will have a small effect 
on the expenditures of new participants for wilderness opportunities of 
Americans. Under the assumption that all wilderness opportunities would 
be of high quality, participants would be attracted to the refuge 
system. If the refuge were closer to the participant's residence than 
alternative sources of wilderness experiences then a reduction in 
travel costs would occur and benefit the participants. The Service does 
not have information to quantify this reduction in travel cost but has 
to assume that since most people travel less than 100 miles to hunt and 
fish, that the reduced travel cost would be small for the additional 
days of wilderness activities generated by this policy. This policy is 
not expected to significantly affect the supply or demand for 
wilderness opportunities in the U.S. and therefore should not affect 
prices for equipment and supplies, or the retailers that sell 
equipment. Refuge system wilderness opportunities account for a small 
portion of the wilderness opportunities available in the contiguous 
United States.
    c. Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of 
U.S. based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. 
Because this policy represents such a small proportion of wildlife 
related recreational spending, there will be no measurable economic 
effect on the wildlife-dependent industry which has annual sales of 
equipment and travel expenditures of $72 billion nationwide. Refuge 
visitors averaged 501,147 visits to refuges for wilderness activities 
from 1999 to 2003 compared to 37.1 million visitors for all activities 
on refuge system lands. This policy seeks to preserve wilderness 
characteristics for those participants who want this experience and is 
aimed at providing guidance to Federal managers in establishing quality 
programs where the opportunity exists for wilderness programs. Refuges 
that have or establish wilderness programs may hire additional staff 
from the local community to assist with the programs but this would not 
be a significant increase with a total of 66 refuges participating. 
Consequently, there is no significant employment or small business 
    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. In accordance with the Unfunded 
Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501, et seq.):
    a. This policy will not ``significantly or uniquely'' affect small 
governments. A Small Government Agency Plan is not required. See 
    b. This policy will not produce a Federal mandate of $100 million 
or greater in any year, i.e., it is not a ``significant regulatory 
action'' under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. V Takings. In 
accordance with Executive Order 12630, the policy does not have 
significant takings implications. A takings implication assessment is 
not required. This policy will not change the ability of inholders to 
access their property, although it may affect the way in which they may 
access it. Depending on the specifics of the easements of record, 
outstanding rights-of-way, enabling legislation, or other rights 
granted by law, inholders may be required to modify their modify their: 
routes of entry so that access will be through a non-wilderness area; 
method of access, and use non-motorized means; or time of entry, to 
disturb the fewest wilderness users.
    Federalism. As discussed in B(1)a, this policy does not have 
significant Federalism effects to warrant the preparation of a 
Federalism Assessment under Executive Order 12612. This policy will not 
have substantial direct effects on the States, in their relationship 
between the Federal Government and the States, or on the distribution 
of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.
    Civil Justice Reform. In accordance with Executive Order 12988, it 
has been determined that the policy does not unduly burden the judicial 
system and meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the 
Order. The policy will clarify established policy and result in better 
understanding of the policies by refuge wilderness visitors.
    Paperwork Reduction Act. This policy does not require any 
information collection from 10 or more parties and a submission under 
the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 is not required.
    National Environmental Policy Act. We have analyzed this policy in 
accordance with the criteria of the National Environmental Policy Act 
and 40 CFR 1508. This policy does not constitute a major Federal action 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. This 
policy is administrative, legal, technical, and procedural in nature 
and provides updated instructions for the stewardship of wilderness 
areas on the National Wildlife Refuge System. The environmental effects 
are too speculative or conjectural to lend themselves to meaningful 
analysis and will later be subjected to the NEPA process on a case-by-
case basis. Extraordinary circumstances may exist for individual 
actions that may occur in implementing this policy that would 
constitute an exception to the categorical exclusion of the policy as a 
whole. Again, those individual actions will be subject to future NEPA 
analysis. An environmental assessment is not required at this time. 
(See B(1)d.)
    Wilderness stewardship plans will need to be developed for all 
refuges with wilderness. These plans will either be incorporated 
directly into refuge comprehensive conservation plans or as step-down 
management plans, pursuant to our refuge planning guidance in 602 FW 1-
3. We prepare these 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 
    Government-to-Government Relationship with Tribes. In accordance 
with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, ``Government-to-
Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments'' (59 FR 
22951) and 512 DM 2 we have evaluated possible effects on Federally-

[[Page 67882]]

Indian tribes and have determined that there are no effects. We 
coordinate wilderness use on national wildlife refuges with Tribal 
governments having adjoining or overlapping jurisdiction.

    Dated: November 7, 2008.
Rowan W. Gould,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E8-27014 Filed 11-14-08; 8:45 am]