Categorized | Environment

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge expanding

MEDIA RELEASE

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to adopt and implement the full protection alternative as described in the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Land Protection Plan/Environmental Assessment.

The decision is documented in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The selected Full Protection Alternative expands the approved Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge boundary by 29,973 acres. The decision concludes the planning process for the Refuge expansion.

The Service can now begin to protect habitat within the expansion area by working with landowners who are interested in selling land, interest in land, or other forms of conservation. Depending on the availability of funding, the Service will work with willing sellers on priority habitats needing protection.

Consistent with the purposes of the Refuge at the time it was established in 1985, any acquired land would be managed to conserve endangered or threatened species.

The Service initiated this land protection study in a planning update and news release in August 2011. An open house was hosted by Service staff Aug. 17, 2011, at the Refuge Headquarters in Hilo, Hawaii.

At this open house, Refuge staff share information about the study, answered questions, and took public comments about the proposed land acquisition project.

The Service has also worked with the State of Hawaii, conservation organizations, landowners, other agencies, and interested individuals to collect additional information about wildlife and wildlife habitat, and the potential impacts of our proposal.

A draft Environmental Assessment (EA), Land Protection Plan (LPP), and Conceptual Management Plan (CMP) were released for a 30-day public review and comment period Feb. 15, 2012.

The Service’s Director approved the boundary expansion on July 20, 2012. The FONSI, which was signed by our Regional Director on Aug. 9, 2012, is accompanied by a final LPP and CMP for the boundary expansion. Issues and concerns raised by the public are addressed and the potential impacts of the boundary expansion are assessed in the EA.

The EA also includes the Service’s responses to comments on the draft planning documents that were received during the public comment period.

Specific tracts of land now included within the expanded refuge boundary are identified in the LPP and priorities for acquisition are assigned. Land within the approved expanded boundary would be acquired only from willing sellers pending the availability of funds and would be managed as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Interim management direction for any acquired lands is provided in the CMP.

The FONSI and final planning documents are available for download at: www.fws.gov/hakalauforest/plan…

For a compact disk containing the documents, write Refuge Headquarters at 60 Nowelo Street, Hilo, HI, or call 808-443-2300.

— Find out more:
www.fws.gov

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