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Proposed Rule

Subsistence Management Regulations for Public Lands in Alaska

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCIES:

Forest Service, Agriculture; Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

This proposed rule would clarify the membership qualifications for Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils established under Subsistence Management Regulations. The rulemaking is necessary because of a judgment by the U.S. District Court for Alaska. The proposed rule would also remove the definition of “regulatory year” from Subpart A and place it in Subpart D of the regulations.

DATES:

The Federal Subsistence Board must receive your written public comments on this proposed rule no later than June 1, 2004. Because the U.S. District Court is requiring prompt action on the membership qualifications for Regional Advisory Councils, no extension of this review deadline will be granted.

The Federal Subsistence Board will hold a public meeting on May 19, 2004, to receive comments on this proposed rule. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for additional information on the public meeting.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit electronic comments to Subsistence@fws.gov. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for file formats and other information about electronic filing. You may submit written comments and proposals to the Office of Subsistence Management, 3601 C Street, Suite 1030, Anchorage, Alaska 99503.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Chair, Federal Subsistence Board, c/o Start Printed Page 19965U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attention: Thomas H. Boyd, Office of Subsistence Management; (907) 786-3888. For questions specific to National Forest System lands, contact Steve Kessler, Regional Subsistence Program Leader, USDA, Forest Service, Alaska Region, (907) 786-3592.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Public Review Process—Regulation Comments and Public Meeting

Electronic filing of comments: You may submit electronic comments to Subsistence@fws.gov. Please submit your comments as either an MS Word or WordPerfect file, avoiding the use of any special characters and any form of encryption.

The Federal Subsistence Board (Board) will receive comments on this proposed rule during a public meeting to be held at the Millennium Alaska Hotel in Anchorage on May 19, 2004, at 1:30 p.m. You may provide oral testimony before the Board at that time. The Board will then review all comments received and forward its recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretaries) for final action.

Background

Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) (16 U.S.C. 3111-3126) requires that the Secretaries implement a program to grant a preference for subsistence uses of fish and wildlife resources on public lands, unless the State of Alaska enacts and implements laws of general applicability that are consistent with ANILCA and that provide for the subsistence definition, preference, and participation specified in Sections 803, 804, and 805 of ANILCA. The State implemented a program that the Department of the Interior previously found to be consistent with ANILCA. However, in December 1989, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled in McDowell v. State of Alaska that the rural preference in the State subsistence statute violated the Alaska Constitution. The Court's ruling in McDowell required the State to delete the rural preference from the subsistence statute and, therefore, negated State compliance with ANILCA. The Court stayed the effect of the decision until July 1, 1990.

As a result of the McDowell decision, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture (Departments) assumed, on July 1, 1990, responsibility for implementation of Title VIII of ANILCA on public lands. On June 29, 1990, the Temporary Subsistence Management Regulations for Public Lands in Alaska were published in the Federal Register (55 FR 27114). With the State unable to create a program in compliance with Title VIII by May 29, 1992, the Departments published a final rule in the Federal Register (57 FR 22940). On January 8, 1999 (64 FR 1276), the Departments published a final rule to extend jurisdiction to include waters in which there exists a Federal reserved water right. This amended rule became effective October 1, 1999, and conformed the Federal Subsistence Management Program to the Ninth Circuit's ruling in Alaska v. Babbitt. Consistent with Subparts A, B, and C of these regulations, as revised January 8, 1999 (64 FR 1276), the Departments established a Federal Subsistence Board (Board) to administer the Federal Subsistence Management Program. The Board's composition includes a Chair appointed by the Secretary of the Interior with concurrence of the Secretary of Agriculture; the Alaska Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the Alaska Regional Director, U.S. National Park Service; the Alaska State Director, U.S. Bureau of Land Management; the Alaska Regional Director, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs; and the Alaska Regional Forester, USDA Forest Service. Through the Board, these agencies participate in the development of Federal Subsistence Management Regulations (Subparts A, B, C, and D).

The Board has reviewed this proposed rule. Because this rule relates to public lands managed by an agency or agencies in both the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior, identical text will be incorporated into 36 CFR part 242 and 50 CFR part 100.

Applicability of Subparts A, B, and C

Subparts A, B, and C (unless otherwise amended) of the Subsistence Management Regulations for Public Lands in Alaska, 50 CFR 100.1 to 100.24 and 36 CFR 242.1 to 242.24, remain effective and apply to this rule. Therefore, all definitions located at 50 CFR 100.4 and 36 CFR 242.4 will apply to regulations found in this subpart.

Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils

Pursuant to the Record of Decision, Subsistence Management Regulations for Federal Public Lands in Alaska, April 6, 1992, and the Subsistence Management Regulations for Federal Public Lands in Alaska, 36 CFR 242.11 (1999) and 50 CFR 100.11 (1999), and for the purposes identified therein, Alaska is divided into 10 subsistence resource regions, each of which is represented by a Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Council (RAC). The Regional Councils provide a forum for rural residents with personal knowledge of local conditions and resource requirements to have a meaningful role in the subsistence management of fish and wildlife on Alaska public lands. The Regional Council members represent varied geographical areas, cultures, interests, and resource users within each region. A Regional Council member must be a resident of the region in which he or she is appointed and be knowledgeable about the region and subsistence uses of the public lands therein.

In 1998, Safari Club International and others filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska challenging the Board's customary and traditional use determination process, specific customary and traditional use determinations, and the balance of membership on the Regional Councils required by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) of 1972, Public Law 92-463, 86 Stat. 770, (Safari Club v. Demientieff, No. A98-0414-CV). In the meantime, the Secretary of the Interior, as part of a national review of advisory councils and in response to inquiries related to the Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils in Alaska, requested the Board to examine its process for selecting nominees, and “see that” groups such as “residents of non-rural areas, commercial users of fish and wildlife resources and sportsmen are represented on the RACs.” Based on Board recommendations coming from that in-depth examination, the Secretary of the Interior with concurrence of the Secretary of Agriculture in 2002 increased the size of nine of the Regional Councils; established the goal of making appointments to the Regional Council so as to achieve, where possible, a representation goal of 70% subsistence users and 30% sport/commercial users; revised the application/evaluation/selection process and forms; and approved a 3-year implementation period.

The Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government et al. were permitted to intervene in the Safari Club case and to challenge the 70/30 ratio representational goals established by the Secretaries. In January 2004, the U.S. District Court for Alaska entered an order dismissing the first two of Safari Club's claims and staying proceeding on the balance of Regional Council membership. The court did note in part with respect to the Regional Councils “that a council comprised of only subsistence users is not fairly balanced. Subsistence users are not the only Start Printed Page 19966persons directly affected by regional advisory council recommendations and subsistence users are not the only persons who might be interested in the management of fish and wildlife on federal lands * * * Non-subsistence users of fish and wildlife are directly affected by management of fish and wildlife for subsistence uses and have a legitimate interest in the proper scientific management of same * * * While all points of view and all persons directly affected are not entitled to representation on a FACA committee, in this instance, a cross-section of those affected by fish and wildlife management on federal public lands must be, in a reasonable and fair manner, afforded representation on regional advisory councils.”

In ruling on a cross-claim of the Native Village of Venetie, the Court invalidated the Secretaries' policy of a goal of a 70/30 (subsistence users/sport and commercial users) membership ratio for failure to procedurally comply with the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act found at 5 U.S.C. 553, and found that the policy should have been put before the public for comment in a rulemaking process. The District Court also ordered that the Secretaries promptly initiate and conclude a rulemaking to promulgate an appropriate Regional Council regulation consistent with FACA after compliance with 5 U.S.C. 553. This rulemaking will provide a clear mechanism and focus for public comments either directly in writing, or orally at the May 2004 public hearing.

The underlying purpose of the proposed change to § __.11(b), while complying with the District Court's order, is to ensure continued compliance with both the fairly balanced representational requirements of FACA and the requirements and purposes of Title VIII of ANILCA in the appointments to the Regional Councils. In the proposed change, the Secretaries recognize that some persons with interests other than subsistence uses are entitled under FACA to be represented on the Regional Councils, while recognizing that Congress intended in Title VIII for rural Alaska residents “who have personal knowledge of local conditions and requirements * * * to have a meaningful role in the management of fish and wildlife and of subsistence uses on public lands in Alaska,” and that Congress also intended that “large urban population centers” not be allowed to dominate the Regional Council system. The 70/30 representational goals of the proposed change to § __.11(b) would assure the appropriate representation and meaningful majority role for rural Alaska residents, while providing an appropriate representation for the interests of nonrural residents and nonsubsistence users.

The proposed change to § __.11(b) would establish goals only in recognition that the actual appointments are dependent on the submission of applications by and nominations of highly qualified individuals, and the actual appointment by the Secretaries of specific individuals. The change would also require the Board to identify to the Secretaries the interest(s) that the applicant would represent. The Secretaries will retain their role in making the appointments to the Regional Councils. Other alternatives to the proposed change could be considered or could be developed based on comments received. However, the final action resulting in a change to § __.11(b) must be consistent with FACA and ANILCA.

Additionally, we propose that the definition of “regulatory year” for fish and shellfish fisheries be modified to mean April 1 through March 31, and that the placement of this definition be shifted from § __.4 to § __.25. This change in dates will allow more opportunity for development of public booklets informing subsistence users of regulatory changes, and the shift in placement of the definition within the regulations will allow the Board more flexibility to make adjustments in the future.

Conformance With Statutory and Regulatory Authorities

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for developing a Federal Subsistence Management Program was distributed for public comment on October 7, 1991. That document described the major issues associated with Federal subsistence management as identified through public meetings, written comments, and staff analysis, and examined the environmental consequences of four alternatives. Proposed regulations (Subparts A, B, and C) that would implement the preferred alternative were included in the DEIS as an appendix. The DEIS and the proposed administrative regulations presented a framework for an annual regulatory cycle regarding subsistence hunting and fishing regulations (Subpart D). The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was published on February 28, 1992.

Based on the public comment received, the analysis contained in the FEIS, and the recommendations of the Federal Subsistence Board and the Department of the Interior's Subsistence Policy Group, the Secretary of the Interior, with the concurrence of the Secretary of Agriculture, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Forest Service, implemented Alternative IV as identified in the DEIS and FEIS (Record of Decision on Subsistence Management for Federal Public Lands in Alaska (ROD), signed April 6, 1992). The DEIS and the selected alternative in the FEIS defined the administrative framework of an annual regulatory cycle for subsistence hunting and fishing regulations. The final rule for Subsistence Management Regulations for Public Lands in Alaska, Subparts A, B, and C (57 FR 22940, published May 29, 1992, and amended January 8, 1999, 64 FR 1276; June 12, 2001, 66 FR 31533; May 7, 2002, 67 FR 30559; and February 18, 2003, 68 FR 7703) implemented the Federal Subsistence Management Program and included a framework for an annual cycle for subsistence hunting and fishing regulations.

Compliance With Section 810 of ANILCA

The intent of all Federal subsistence regulations is to accord subsistence uses of fish and wildlife on public lands a priority over the taking of fish and wildlife on such lands for other purposes, unless restriction is necessary to conserve healthy fish and wildlife populations. A Section 810 analysis was completed as part of the FEIS process. The final Section 810 analysis determination appeared in the April 6, 1992, ROD, which concluded that the Federal Subsistence Management Program may have some local impacts on subsistence uses, but the program is not likely to significantly restrict subsistence uses.

Paperwork Reduction Act

These proposed changes do not contain information collection requirements subject to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. We may not conduct or sponsor, and you are not required to respond to, an information collection request unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

Other Requirements

Economic Effects—This rule is not a significant rule subject to OMB review under Executive Order 12866. This rulemaking will impose no significant costs on small entities; this rule is Start Printed Page 19967administrative in nature only and does not restrict any existing sport or commercial fishery on the public lands, and subsistence fisheries will continue at essentially the same levels as they presently occur. The number of businesses and the amount of trade that will result from this Federal land related activity is unknown but expected to be insignificant.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) requires preparation of flexibility analyses for rules that will have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities, which include small businesses, organizations, or governmental jurisdictions. The Departments certify that this rulemaking will not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities within the meaning of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. Under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), this rule is not a major rule. It does not have an effect on the economy of $100 million or more, will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, and 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.

Title VIII of ANILCA requires the Secretaries to administer a subsistence priority on public lands. The scope of this program is limited by definition to certain public lands. Likewise, these regulations have no potential takings of private property implications as defined by Executive Order 12630.

The Secretaries have determined and certify pursuant to the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, 2 U.S.C. 1502 et seq., that this rulemaking will not impose a cost of $100 million or more in any given year on local or State governments or private entities. The implementation of this rule is by Federal agencies and there is no cost imposed on any State or local entities or tribal governments.

The Secretaries have determined that these regulations meet the applicable standards provided in Sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988 regarding civil justice reform.

In accordance with Executive Order 13132, the rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment. Title VIII of ANILCA precludes the State from exercising subsistence management authority over fish and wildlife resources on Federal lands unless their program meets certain requirements.

In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, “Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments” (59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175, and 512 DM 2, we have evaluated possible effects on Federally recognized Indian tribes and have determined that there are no effects. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is a participating agency in this rulemaking.

On May 18, 2001, the President issued Executive Order 13211 on regulations that significantly affect energy supply, distribution, or use. This Executive Order requires agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. As this rule is not a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 13211, affecting energy supply, distribution, or use, this action is not a significant action and no Statement of Energy Effects is required.

Drafting Information

William Knauer drafted these regulations under the guidance of Thomas H. Boyd of the Office of Subsistence Management, Alaska Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska. Taylor Brelsford, Alaska State Office, Bureau of Land Management; Greg Bos, Carl Jack, and Rod Simmons, Alaska Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Sandy Rabinowitch and Bob Gerhard, Alaska Regional Office, National Park Service; Warren Eastland and Dr. Glenn Chen, Alaska Regional Office, Bureau of Indian Affairs; and Steve Kessler, USDA-Forest Service, provided additional guidance.

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List of Subjects

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For the reasons presented in the preamble, the Federal Subsistence Board proposes to amend Title 36, part 242, and Title 50, part 100, of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below.

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PART__—SUBSISTENCE MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS FOR PUBLIC LANDS IN ALASKA [AMENDED]

1. The authority citation for both 36 CFR Part 242 and 50 CFR Part 100 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 16 U.S.C. 3, 472, 551, 668dd, 3101-3126; 18 U.S.C. 3551-3586; 43 U.S.C. 1733.

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2. In Subpart A of 36 CFR part 242 and 50 CFR part 100, § __.4, the definition of “Regulatory year” is removed.

3. In Subpart B of 36 CFR part 242 and 50 CFR part 100, § __.11(b) is revised to read as follows:

Regional advisory councils.

(a) * * *

(b) Establishment of Regional Councils; membership. (1) The Board will establish the number of members for each Regional Council. To ensure that each Council represents a diversity of interests, the Board will strive to ensure that 70 percent of the members represent subsistence interests within a region and 30 percent of the members represent commercial and sport interests within a region. A Regional Council member must be a resident of the region in which he or she is appointed and must be knowledgeable about the region and subsistence uses of the public lands therein. The Board will accept nominations and make recommendations to the Secretaries for membership on the Regional Councils. In making their recommendations, the Board will identify the interest(s) the applicants propose to represent on the respective Regional Councils. The Secretary of the Interior with the concurrence of the Secretary of Agriculture will make the appointments to the Regional Councils.

* * * * *

4. In Subpart D of 36 CFR part 242 and 50 CFR part 100, § _.25(a) is amended by adding the definition “Regulatory year” immediately before the definition “Ring net” to read as follows:

Subsistence taking of fish, wildlife, and shellfish: general regulations.

(a) * * *

Regulatory year means July 1 through June 30, except for fish and shellfish for which it means April 1 through March 31.

* * * * *
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Dated: April 9, 2004.

Gale A Norton,

Secretary of the Interior, Department of the Interior.

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Dated: February 23, 2004.

Steven A. Brink,

Regional Forester, Acting, USDA-Forest Service.

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[FR Doc. 04-8569 Filed 4-14-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-11-P; 4310-55-P