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Proposed Rule

Subsistence Management Regulations for Public Lands in Alaska; Rural Determination Process

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:

The Secretaries propose to revise the regulations governing the rural determination process for the Federal Subsistence Program in Alaska. Under current regulations, the Federal Subsistence Board (Board) defines which community or area of Alaska is rural using guidelines and characteristics defined by the Secretaries. This new process will enable the Board to be more flexible in making decisions and take into account the regional differences found throughout the State.

DATES:

Public comments: Comments and proposals to change this proposed rule must be received or postmarked by April 1, 2015.

Public meetings: The Secretaries, through the Board, will hold public meetings in conjunction with the Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils (Councils) to receive comments on this proposed rule on several dates between February 10 and March 19, 2015. In addition, the Councils will discuss and make their recommendations to the Board. The Board will discuss and evaluate proposed regulatory changes during a public meeting in Anchorage, AK, on or before April 2016 and make recommendations on the proposed rule to the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for specific information on dates and locations of the public meetings and for requesting reasonable accommodations.

ADDRESSES:

Public comments: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

  • Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov and search for FWS-R7-SM-2014-0063, which is the docket number for this rulemaking.
  • By hard copy: U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: USFWS, Office of Subsistence Management, 1011 East Tudor Road, MS 121, Attn: Theo Matuskowitz, Anchorage, AK 99503-6199, or hand delivery to the Designated Federal Official attending any of the Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Council public meetings. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for additional information on locations of the public meetings.

We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public Review Process section below for more information).

Public meetings: The Federal Subsistence Board and the Councils' public meetings will be held at various locations in Alaska. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for specific information on dates and locations of the public meetings.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Chair, Federal Subsistence Board, c/o U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attention: Eugene R. Peltola, Jr., Office of Subsistence Management; (907) 786-3888 or subsistence@fws.gov. For questions specific to National Forest System lands, contact Thomas Whitford, Regional Subsistence Program Leader, USDA, Forest Service, Alaska Region; (907) 743-9461 or twhitford@fs.fed.us.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

Under Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) (16 U.S.C. 3111-3126), the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretaries) jointly implement the Federal Subsistence Management Program (Program). The Program provides a preference to rural Alaskan residents for taking fish and wildlife resources for subsistence uses on Federal public lands and waters in Alaska. Because the Program is a joint effort between Interior and Agriculture, these regulations are located in two titles of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR): Title 36, “Parks, Forests, and Public Property,” and Title 50, “Wildlife and Fisheries,” at 36 CFR 242.1-242.28 and 50 CFR 100.1-100.28, respectively. The regulations contain subparts as follows: Subpart A, General Provisions; Subpart B, Program Structure; Subpart C, Board Determinations; and Subpart D, Subsistence Taking of Fish and Wildlife.

Consistent with subpart B of these regulations, the Secretaries established a Federal Subsistence Board to administer the Program. The Board comprises:Start Printed Page 4522

  • 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;
  • The Alaska Regional Forester, U.S. Forest Service; and
  • Two public members appointed by the Secretary of the Interior with concurrence of the Secretary of Agriculture.

Through the Board, these agencies and public members participate in the development of regulations for subparts C and D, which, among other things, set forth program eligibility and specific harvest seasons and limits. The Board determines which areas of Alaska are rural and which areas are nonrural. Alaska residents living in areas determined to be nonrural are not eligible to participate in the Program.

In administering the Program, the Secretaries divided Alaska into 10 subsistence resource regions, each of which is represented by a Regional Advisory Council. The Regional Advisory 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 Federal public lands in Alaska. The Regional Advisory Council members represent varied geographical, cultural, and user interests within each region.

Prior Rulemaking

On November 23, 1990 (55 FR 48877), the Board published a notice in the Federal Register explaining the proposed Federal process for making rural determinations, the criteria to be used, and the application of those criteria in preliminary determinations. On December 17, 1990, the Board adopted final rural and nonrural determinations, which were published on January 3, 1991 (56 FR 236). Final programmatic regulations were published on May 29, 1992, with only slight variations in the rural determination process (57 FR 22940). As a result of this rulemaking, Federal subsistence regulations at 36 CFR 242.15 and 50 CFR 100.15 require that the rural or nonrural status of communities or areas be reviewed every 10 years, beginning with the availability of the 2000 census data.

Because some data from the 2000 census were not compiled and available until 2005, the Board published a proposed rule in 2006 to revise the list of nonrural areas recognized by the Board (71 FR 46416, August 14, 2006). The final rule published in the Federal Register on May 7, 2007 (72 FR 25688).

Secretarial Review

On October 23, 2009, Secretary of the Interior Salazar announced the initiation of a Departmental review of the Federal Subsistence Management Program in Alaska; Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack later concurred with this course of action. The review focused on how the Program is meeting the purposes and subsistence provisions of Title VIII of ANILCA, and how the Program is serving rural subsistence users as envisioned when it began in the early 1990s.

On August 31, 2010, the Secretaries announced the findings of the review, which included several proposed administrative and regulatory reviews and/or revisions to strengthen the Program and make it more responsive to those who rely on it for their subsistence uses. One proposal called for a review, with Council input, of the rural and nonrural determination process and, if needed, recommendations for regulatory changes.

The Board met on January 20, 2012, to consider the Secretarial directive, consider the Councils' recommendations, and review all public, Tribal, and Native Corporation comments on the initial review of the rural determination process. After discussion and careful review, the Board voted unanimously to initiate a review of the rural determination process and the 2010 decennial review. Consequently, based on that action, the Board found that it was in the public's best interest to extend the compliance date of its 2007 final rule (72 FR 25688; May 7, 2007) on rural and nonrural determinations until after the review of the rural determination process and the decennial review are complete or in 5 years, whichever comes first. The Board published a final rule (77 FR 12477; March 1, 2012) extending the compliance date.

The Board followed this action with a request for comments and announcement of public meetings(77 FR 77005; December 31, 2012) to receive public, Tribal, and Alaska Native Corporations input on the rural determination process.

Due to a lapse in appropriations on October 1, 2013, and the subsequent closure of the Federal Government, some of the preannounced public meetings and Tribal consultations to receive comments on the rural determination process during the closure were cancelled. The Board decided that an extension to the comment period was needed to allow for the complete participation from the Councils, public and Tribes to address this issue (78 FR 66885; November 7, 2013).

The Councils were briefed on the Board's Federal Register notice during their winter 2013 meetings. At their fall 2013 meetings, the Councils provided a public forum to hear from residents of their regions, deliberate on the rural determination process, and provide recommendations for changes to the Board.

The Secretaries, through the Board, also held hearings in Barrow, Ketchikan, Sitka, Kodiak, Bethel, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kotzebue, Nome, and Dillingham to solicit comments on the rural determination process. Public testimony was recorded during these hearings. Government-to-government consultations on the rural determination process were held between members of the Board and Federally recognized Tribes of Alaska, and additional consultations were held between members of the Board and Alaska Native Corporations.

Altogether, the Board received 475 substantive comments from various sources, including individuals, members of the Councils, and other entities or organizations, such as Alaska Native Corporations and borough governments. In general, this information indicated a broad dissatisfaction with the current rural determination process. The aggregation criteria were perceived as arbitrary. The current population thresholds were seen as inadequate to capture the reality of rural Alaska. Additionally, the decennial review was widely viewed to be unnecessary.

Based on this information, the Board at their public meeting held on April 17, 2014, elected to recommend a simplification of the process by determining which areas or communities are nonrural in Alaska; all other communities or areas would, therefore, be rural. The Board would make nonrural determinations using a comprehensive approach that takes into consideration population size and density, economic indicators, military presence, industrial facilities, use of fish and wildlife, degree of remoteness and isolation, any other relevant material, and information provided by the public. The Board would rely heavily on the recommendations of the Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils.Start Printed Page 4523

In summary, based on Council and public comments, Tribal and Alaska Native Corporation consultations, and briefing materials from the Office of Subsistence Management, the Board developed a proposal that simplifies the process of rural and nonrural determinations and submitted its recommendation to the Secretaries on August 15, 2014.

On November 24, 2014, the Secretaries requested that the Board initiate rulemaking to pursue the regulatory changes recommended by the Board. The Secretaries also requested that the Board obtain Council recommendations and public input, and conduct Tribal and Alaska Native Corporation consultation on the proposed changes. If adopted through the rulemaking process, the current regulations would be revised to remove specific guidelines, including requirements regarding population data, the aggregation of communities, and the decennial review, for making rural determinations.

Public Review Process—Comments, Proposals, and Public Meetings

The Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils will have a substantial role in reviewing this proposed rule and making recommendations for the final rule. The Federal Subsistence Board, through the Councils, will hold public meetings on this proposed rule at the following locations in Alaska, on the following dates:

Region 1—Southeast Regional CouncilYakutatMarch 17, 2015.
Region 2—Southcentral Regional CouncilAnchorageFebruary 18, 2015.
Region 3—Kodiak/Aleutians Regional CouncilKodiakFebruary 10, 2015.
Region 4—Bristol Bay Regional CouncilNaknekFebruary 24, 2015.
Region 5—Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional CouncilBethelFebruary 25, 2015.
Region 6—Western Interior Regional CouncilFairbanksMarch 3, 2015.
Region 7—Seward Peninsula Regional CouncilNomeFebruary 18, 2015.
Region 8—Northwest Arctic Regional CouncilKotzebueMarch 9, 2015.
Region 9—Eastern Interior Regional CouncilFairbanksMarch 4, 2015.
Region 10—North Slope Regional CouncilBarrowMarch 17, 2015.

A notice will be published of specific dates, times, and meeting locations in local and statewide newspapers prior to the meetings. Locations and dates may change based on weather or local circumstances. The amount of work on each Council's agenda determines the length of each Council meeting.

The Board will conduct tribal and Alaska Native Corporations consultations and discuss and evaluate proposed changes to the rural determination regulations during a public meeting scheduled to be held in Anchorage, Alaska, on or before April 2016. The Council Chairs, or their designated representatives, will present their respective Council's recommendations at the Board meeting. Additional public testimony to the Board will be allowed during the meeting. At that public meeting, the Board will deliberate and make final recommendations to the Secretaries on this proposed rule.

You may submit written comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. If you submit a comment via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire comment, including any personal identifying information, will be posted on the Web site. If you submit a hardcopy comment that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy comments on http://www.regulations.gov.

Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, at: USFWS, Office of Subsistence Management, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503.

Reasonable Accommodations

The Federal Subsistence Board is committed to providing access to these meetings for all participants. Please direct all requests for sign language interpreting services, closed captioning, or other accommodation needs to Deborah Coble, 907-786-3880, subsistence@fws.gov, or 800-877-8339 (TTY), seven business days prior to the meeting in which you would like to participate.

Tribal Consultation and Comment

As expressed in Executive Order 13175, “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments,” the Federal officials that have been delegated authority by the Secretaries are committed to honoring the unique government-to-government political relationship that exists between the Federal Government and Federally Recognized Indian Tribes (Tribes) as listed in 79 FR 4748 (January 29, 2014). Consultation with Alaska Native Corporations is based on Public Law 108-199, div. H, Sec. 161, Jan. 23, 2004, 118 Stat. 452, as amended by Public Law 108-447, div. H, title V, Sec. 518, Dec. 8, 2004, 118 Stat. 3267, which provides that: “The Director of the Office of Management and Budget and all Federal agencies shall hereafter consult with Alaska Native corporations on the same basis as Indian tribes under Executive Order No. 13175.”

ANILCA does not provide specific rights to Tribes for the subsistence taking of wildlife, fish, and shellfish. However, because Tribal members are affected by subsistence regulations, the Secretaries, through the Board, will provide Federally recognized Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations an opportunity to consult on this proposed rule.

The Board will engage in outreach efforts for this proposed rule, including a notification letter, to ensure that Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations are advised of the mechanisms by which they can participate. The Board provides a variety of opportunities for consultation: Commenting on proposed changes to the existing rule; engaging in dialogue at the Regional Council meetings; engaging in dialogue at the Board's meetings; and providing input in person, by mail, email, or phone at any time during the rulemaking process. The Board commits to efficiently and adequately providing an opportunity to Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations for consultation in regard to subsistence rulemaking.

The Board will consider Tribes' and Alaska Native Corporations' information, input, and recommendations, and address their concerns as much as practicable.Start Printed Page 4524

Compliance With Statutory and Regulatory Authorities

National Environmental Policy Act

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement that described four alternatives for developing a Federal Subsistence Management Program was distributed for public comment on October 7, 1991. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was published on February 28, 1992. The Record of Decision (ROD) on Subsistence Management for Federal Public Lands in Alaska was signed April 6, 1992. The selected alternative in the FEIS (Alternative IV) defined the administrative framework of an annual regulatory cycle for subsistence regulations.

A 1997 environmental assessment dealt with the expansion of Federal jurisdiction over fisheries and is available at the office listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. The Secretary of the Interior, with concurrence of the Secretary of Agriculture, determined that expansion of Federal jurisdiction does not constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the human environment and, therefore, signed a Finding of No Significant Impact.

Section 810 of ANILCA

An ANILCA section 810 analysis was completed as part of the FEIS process on the Federal Subsistence Management Program. 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. The final section 810 analysis determination appeared in the April 6, 1992, ROD and concluded that the Federal Subsistence Management Program, under Alternative IV with an annual process for setting subsistence regulations, may have some local impacts on subsistence uses, but will not likely restrict subsistence uses significantly.

During the subsequent environmental assessment process for extending fisheries jurisdiction, an evaluation of the effects of this rule was conducted in accordance with section 810. That evaluation also supported the Secretaries' determination that the rule will not reach the “may significantly restrict” threshold that would require notice and hearings under ANILCA section 810(a).

Paperwork Reduction Act

An agency may not conduct or sponsor and you are not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. This proposed rule does not contain any new collections of information that require OMB approval. OMB has reviewed and approved the collections of information associated with the subsistence regulations at 36 CFR part 242 and 50 CFR part 100, and assigned OMB Control Number 1018-0075, which expires February 29, 2016.

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget will review all significant rules. OIRA has reviewed this rule and has determined that this rule is not significant.

Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

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 effect on a substantial number of small entities, which include small businesses, organizations, or governmental jurisdictions. In general, the resources to be harvested under this rule are already being harvested and consumed by the local harvester and do not result in an additional dollar benefit to the economy. However, we estimate that two million pounds of meat are harvested by subsistence users annually and, if given an estimated dollar value of $3.00 per pound, this amount would equate to about $6 million in food value statewide. Based upon the amounts and values cited above, 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.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness 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.

Executive Order 12630

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.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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 would be by Federal agencies, and no cost would be imposed on any State or local entities or tribal governments.

Executive Order 12988

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.

Executive Order 13132

In accordance with Executive Order 13132, the proposed 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 it meets certain requirements.

Executive Order 13175

Title VIII of ANILCA does not provide specific rights to tribes for the subsistence taking of wildlife, fish, and Start Printed Page 4525shellfish. However, the Board will provide Federally recognized Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations an opportunity to consult on this proposed rule. Consultation with Alaska Native Corporations are based on Public Law 108-199, div. H, Sec. 161, Jan. 23, 2004, 118 Stat. 452, as amended by Public Law 108-447, div. H, title V, Sec. 518, Dec. 8, 2004, 118 Stat. 3267, which provides that: “The Director of the Office of Management and Budget and all Federal agencies shall hereafter consult with Alaska Native corporations on the same basis as Indian tribes under Executive Order No. 13175.”

The Secretaries, through the Board, will provide a variety of opportunities for consultation: Engaging in dialogue at the Regional Council meetings; engaging in dialogue at the Board's meetings; and providing input in person, by mail, email, or phone at any time during the rulemaking process.

Executive Order 13211

This Executive Order requires agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. However, this proposed rule is not a significant regulatory action under E.O. 13211, affecting energy supply, distribution, or use, and no Statement of Energy Effects is required.

Clarity of the Rule

We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988, and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule we publish must:

(a) Be logically organized;

(b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;

(c) Use clear language rather than jargon;

(d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and

(e) Use lists and tables wherever possible.

If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. To better help us revise the proposed rule, your comments should be as specific as possible.

Drafting Information

Theo Matuskowitz drafted these regulations under the guidance of Eugene R. Peltola, Jr. of the Office of Subsistence Management, Alaska Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska. Additional assistance was provided by:

  • Daniel Sharp, Alaska State Office, Bureau of Land Management;
  • Mary McBurney, Alaska Regional Office, National Park Service;
  • Dr. Glenn Chen, Alaska Regional Office, Bureau of Indian Affairs;
  • Trevor Fox, Alaska Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and
  • Steve Kessler and Thomas Whitford, Alaska Regional Office, U.S. Forest Service.
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List of Subjects

36 CFR Part 242

  • Administrative practice and procedure
  • Alaska
  • Fish
  • National forests
  • Public lands
  • Reporting and recordkeeping requirements
  • Wildlife

50 CFR Part 100

  • Administrative practice and procedure
  • Alaska
  • Fish
  • National forests
  • Public lands
  • Reporting and recordkeeping requirements
  • Wildlife
End List of Subjects

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

For the reasons set out in the preamble, the Secretaries propose to amend 36 CFR part 242 and 50 CFR part 100 as set forth below.

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PART—SUBSISTENCE MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS FOR PUBLIC LANDS IN ALASKA

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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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Subpart B—Program Structure

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2. In subpart B of 36 CFR part 242 and 50 CFR part 100, § __.15 is revised to read as follows:

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Rural determination process.

(a) The Board determines which areas or communities in Alaska are nonrural. Current determinations are listed at § ___.23.

(b) All other communities and areas are, therefore, rural.

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Sally Jewell,

Secretary of the Interior.

Dated: December 12, 2014.

Beth G. Pendleton,

Regional Forester, USDA-Forest Service.

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[FR Doc. 2015-01621 Filed 1-26-15; 11:15 am]

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