Migratory Bird Permits; Management of Double-Crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) Throughout the United States, 3601-3603 [2020-00616]

Download as PDF khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules removal for conservation purposes means any action with the primary or secondary purpose of mechanically removing nonnative fishes that compete with, predate, or degrade the habitat of humpback chub. (1) Methods of allowable take under this paragraph (cc)(2)(iv)(D) include, but are not limited to: (i) Mechanical removal of nonnative fish within occupied humpback chub habitats, including, but not limited to, electrofishing, seining, netting, and angling; and (ii) The use of other ecosystem modifications, such as altered flow regimes or habitat modifications. (2) The Service and all applicable landowners must approve, in advance and in writing, any nonnative fish removal activities under this paragraph. (E) Catch-and-release angling of humpback chub. States and tribes may enact Federal, State, and tribal fishing regulations that address catch-andrelease angling. (1) In the six core populations, angling activities may include nontargeted (incidental) catch and release of humpback chub when targeting other species in accordance with Federal, State, and tribal fishing regulations. (2) In areas outside of the six core populations, angling activities may include targeted catch and release of humpback chub in accordance with Federal, State, and tribal fishing regulations. (3) Angling activities may cause take via: (i) Handling of humpback chub caught via angling; (ii) Injury to humpback chub caught via angling; and (iii) Unintentional death to humpback chub caught via angling. (4) Reasonable consideration by the Federal, State, and tribal agencies for incidental catch and release of humpback chub in the six core populations include: (i) Regulating tactics to minimize potential injury and death to humpback chub if caught; (ii) Communicating the potential for catching humpback chub in these areas; and (iii) Promoting the importance of the six core populations. (5) Reasonable consideration for establishing new recreational angling locations for humpback chub include, but are not limited to: (i) Evaluating each water body’s ability to support humpback chub and sustain angling; (ii) Ensuring the recreational fishing population does not detrimentally impact the six core populations of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 humpback chub through such factors as disease or genetic drift; and (iii) Monitoring to ensure there are no detrimental effects to the humpback chub population from angling. (6) The Service and all applicable State, Federal, and tribal landowners must approve, in advance and in writing, any new recreational fishery for humpback chub. (F) Chemical treatments to support humpback chub. A qualified person may take humpback chub by performing a chemical treatment in accordance with Federal, State, and tribal regulations that would support the conservation and recovery of humpback chub, provided that reasonable care is practiced to minimize the effects of such taking. (1) For treatments upstream of occupied humpback chub habitat: (i) Service approval is not required; and (ii) Care should be taken to limit the potential for fish toxicants and piscicides travelling beyond treatment boundaries and impacting humpback chub. (2) For treatments in known or potentially occupied humpback chub habitat: (i) The Service must approve, in advance and in writing, any treatment; and (ii) Care should be taken to perform robust salvage efforts to remove any humpback chub that may occur in the treatment area before the treatment is conducted. (3) Whenever possible, humpback chub that are salvaged should be moved to a location that supports recovery of the species. (G) Reporting and disposal requirements. Any mortality of humpback chub associated with the actions authorized under this special rule must be reported to the Service within 72 hours, and specimens may be disposed of only in accordance with directions from the Service. Reports in the upper basin (upstream of Glen Canyon Dam) must be made to the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region Law Enforcement Office, or the Service’s Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Office. Reports in the lower basin (downstream Glen Canyon Dam) must be made to the Service’s Southwest Region Law Enforcement Office, or the Service’s Arizona Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office. Contact information for the Service’s regional offices is set forth at 50 CFR 2.2. The Service may allow additional reasonable time for reporting if access to these offices is limited due to office closure or if the activity was conducted in area PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 3601 without sufficient communication access. * * * * * Dated: December 10, 2019. Margaret E. Everson, Principle Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Exercising the Authority of the Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2020–00512 Filed 1–21–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 21 [Docket No. FWS–HQ–MB–2019–0103; FF09M29000–190–FXMB1232090000] RIN 1018–BE67 Migratory Bird Permits; Management of Double-Crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) Throughout the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking; intent to prepare a National Environmental Policy Act document. AGENCY: This document advises the public that we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, intends to gather information necessary to develop a proposed rule to expand management of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) throughout the United States, and prepare a draft environmental review pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended. We are furnishing this advance notice of proposed rulemaking to advise other agencies and the public of our intentions; obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to include in the environmental review; and announce public scoping webinars to occur in 2020. DATES: Comment submission: Public scoping will begin with the publication of this document in the Federal Register and will continue through March 9, 2020. We will consider all comments on the scope of the draft environmental review that are received or postmarked by that date. Comments received or postmarked after that date will be considered to the extent practicable. Scoping meetings: We will hold public scoping meetings in the form of multiple webinars that will occur in February 2020. We will announce exact webinar dates, times, and registration SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 3602 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS details on the internet at https:// www.fws.gov/birds/management/ managed-species/double-crestedcormorants.php. ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by one of the following methods. Please do not submit comments by both. (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS–HQ–MB–2019–0103. (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–HQ–MB–2019– 0103; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: JAO/1N, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041– 3803. We do not accept email or faxes. We will post all comments on http:// www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerome Ford, Assistant Director, Migratory Birds, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at 202–208–1050. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is the Federal agency delegated with the primary responsibility for managing migratory birds. Our authority derives from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, as amended (MBTA), which implements conventions with Great Britain (for Canada), Mexico, Japan, and the Russia Federation. The MBTA protects certain migratory birds from take, except as permitted under the MBTA. We implement the provisions of the MBTA through regulations in parts 10, 13, 20, 21, and 22 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Regulations pertaining to migratory bird permits are at 50 CFR part 21. The double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus, [cormorants]) is a fish-eating migratory bird that is distributed across a large portion of North America. There are five different breeding populations of cormorants, variously described by different authors as the Alaska, Pacific Coast, Interior, Atlantic, and Southern populations. Cormorant populations have exhibited increasing abundance over the last few decades. In response to ongoing damage at aquaculture facilities and other damage and conflicts associated with increasing cormorant populations, the Service administered regulations that included an Aquaculture Depredation Order (which was located at 50 CFR 21.47) and a Public Resource Depredation Order (which was located VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 at 50 CFR 21.48) from October 2003 until May of 2016. The Aquaculture Depredation Order eliminated individual permit requirements in 13 States for private individuals, corporations, State agencies, and Federal agencies taking cormorants at aquaculture facilities. The Public Resource Depredation Order enabled States, Tribes, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in 24 States, without individual depredation permits, to take cormorants found committing or about to commit, and to prevent, depredations on the public resources of fish (including hatchery stock at Federal, State, and Tribal facilities), wildlife, plants, and their habitats. In May of 2016, the depredation orders were vacated by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The Court concluded that the Service did not sufficiently consider the effects of the depredation orders on cormorant populations and other affected resources and failed to consider a reasonable range of alternatives in the review within the environmental assessment issued under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), in 2014. The authority for authorizing lethal take of depredating cormorants reverted back to the issuance of individual depredation permits pursuant to 50 CFR 21.41. Conflicts in aquatic systems continue to exist between cormorants and fish stocks managed by Federal, State, and Tribal agencies as recreational and/or commercial fisheries, or for speciesconservation purposes. Cormorant predation of fish also occurs at aquaculture facilities and private recreational lakes and ponds. Birders and other interested parties value cormorants for their aesthetic and existential values. The Service is responsible for determining the maximum amount of lethal take of cormorants to allow in order to minimize conflicts in aquatic systems, while maintaining sustainable populations of cormorants and minimizing the regulatory burden on Federal and State agencies and individual citizens. In the process of making this decision, the Service wants to use an effective and transparent decision-making process that ensures collaboration among migratory bird and fisheries management programs, fulfills Tribal trust and subsistence responsibilities, adheres to legal and regulatory requirements under NEPA, and addresses key biological uncertainties. When determining total allowable take, the Service must consider uncertainty related to PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 cormorant population dynamics, estimated maximum sustainable harvest, and risk of over-exploitation. Furthermore, the Service and stakeholders must identify appropriate monitoring requirements that ensure progress toward stated objectives and inform future decisions regarding total allowable take. Public Scoping A primary purpose of the NEPA scoping process is to receive suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives to consider when drafting the environmental documents and to identify significant issues and reasonable alternatives related to the Service’s proposed action. In order to ensure that we identify a range of issues and alternatives related to the proposed action, we invite comments and suggestions from all interested parties. We will conduct a review of this proposed action according to the requirements of NEPA and its regulations, other relevant Federal laws, regulations, policies, and guidance, and our procedures for compliance with applicable regulations. Once the environmental documents are completed, we will offer further opportunities for public comment. Proposed Action and Possible Alternatives The Service has collaborated with State fish and wildlife agencies, Tribes, and Federal partners in further addressing cormorant conflicts including aquaculture and wild and stocked fisheries. In this rulemaking action, we propose these long-term solutions to cormorant conflicts: (1) Establish a new permit for State wildlife agencies for authorizing certain cormorant management and control activities that are normally prohibited and are intended to relieve or prevent impacts from cormorants on wild and stocked fisheries, aquaculture facilities, human health and safety, property, and threatened and endangered species (as listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.)). States would have the delegated authority to determine whether, when, where, and for what purposes to control cormorants within limits set by the Service. (2) Establish an aquaculture depredation order, which would allow take of cormorants under prescribed conditions at aquaculture facilities without the need to acquire an individual permit. (3) Both (1) and (2) in combination. The proposed action presented in the environmental analysis will be E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 14 / Wednesday, January 22, 2020 / Proposed Rules compared to the no-action alternative. The no-action alternative will compare estimated future conditions without implementation of the alternatives listed here to the estimated future conditions with those alternative actions in place (i.e., issuance of individual depredation permits pursuant to 50 CFR 21.41). g. Disproportionately high and adverse impacts on minority and lowincome populations; h. Any other potential or socioeconomic effects; and i. Any potential conflicts with other Federal, State, local, or Tribal environmental laws or requirements. Information Requested Public Availability of Comments Issues Related to the Scope of the NEPA Review Written comments we receive become part of the public record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that the entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we use in preparing the environmental analysis, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters (see ADDRESSES, above). We seek comments or suggestions from the public, governmental agencies, Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties. To promulgate a proposed rule and prepare a draft environmental review pursuant to NEPA, we will take into consideration all comments and any additional information received. To ensure that any proposed rulemaking effectively evaluates all potential issues and impacts, we are seeking comments and suggestions on the following for consideration in preparation of additional management for doublecrested cormorants: a. Assessment of interest in use of a new special permit by States and Tribes; b. Appropriate limitations to cormorant management and control activities, such as season, scope, and magnitude of expected lethal take; and c. Potential reporting and monitoring strategies of cormorants by States and participating Tribes. The Service will act as the lead Federal agency responsible for completion of the environmental review. Therefore, we are seeking comments on the identification of direct, indirect, beneficial, and adverse effects that might be caused by additional management for doublecrested cormorants. You may wish to consider the following issues when providing comments: a. Impacts on floodplains, wetlands, wild and scenic rivers, or ecologically sensitive areas; b. Impacts on park lands and cultural or historic resources; c. Impacts on human health and safety; d. Impacts on air, soil, and water; e. Impacts on prime agricultural lands; f. Impacts to other species of wildlife, including endangered or threatened species; VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jan 21, 2020 Jkt 250001 Scoping Meetings See DATES for information about upcoming scoping webinars. The purpose of scoping webinars is to provide the public with a general understanding of the background of the proposed rule, alternatives and activities it would cover, alternative proposals under consideration, and the Service’s role and steps to be taken to develop the draft environmental analysis for the proposed action. Additionally, the purpose of these meetings and public comment period is to solicit suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives for the Service to consider when preparing the draft environmental documents. Oral comments will be accepted at the webinars. Comments can also be submitted by methods listed in ADDRESSES. Once the draft environmental documents and proposed rule are complete and made available for review, there will be additional opportunity for public comment on the content of these documents through an additional comment period. PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 3603 Scoping Webinar Accommodations Please note that the Service will ensure that the public scoping webinars will be accessible to members of the public with disabilities. Public Comments To promulgate a proposed rule and prepare a draft environmental review pursuant to NEPA, we will take into consideration all comments and any additional information received. Please note that submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the proposed action and alternatives under consideration, without providing supporting information, will be noted but not considered by the Service in making a determination. Please consider the following when preparing your comments: a. Be as succinct as possible. b. Be specific. Comments supported by logic, rationale, and citations are more useful than opinions. c. State suggestions and recommendations clearly with an expectation of what you would like the Service to do. d. If you propose an additional alternative for consideration, please provide supporting rationale and why you believe it to be a reasonable alternative that would meet the purpose and need for our proposed action. e. If you provide alternate interpretations of science, please support your analysis with appropriate citations. The alternatives we develop will be analyzed in our draft environmental review pursuant to NEPA. We will give separate notice of the availability of the draft environmental review for public comment when it is completed. We may hold public hearings and informational sessions so that interested and affected people may comment and provide input into the final decision. Authority The authority for this action is the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). Dated: December 6, 2019. Rob Wallace, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 2020–00616 Filed 1–21–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P E:\FR\FM\22JAP1.SGM 22JAP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 14 (Wednesday, January 22, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 3601-3603]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-00616]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 21

[Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2019-0103; FF09M29000-190-FXMB1232090000]
RIN 1018-BE67


Migratory Bird Permits; Management of Double-Crested Cormorants 
(Phalacrocorax auritus) Throughout the United States

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking; intent to prepare a 
National Environmental Policy Act document.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This document advises the public that we, the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, intends to gather information necessary to develop a 
proposed rule to expand management of double-crested cormorants 
(Phalacrocorax auritus) throughout the United States, and prepare a 
draft environmental review pursuant to the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, as amended. We are furnishing this advance notice 
of proposed rulemaking to advise other agencies and the public of our 
intentions; obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues 
to include in the environmental review; and announce public scoping 
webinars to occur in 2020.

DATES: 
    Comment submission: Public scoping will begin with the publication 
of this document in the Federal Register and will continue through 
March 9, 2020. We will consider all comments on the scope of the draft 
environmental review that are received or postmarked by that date. 
Comments received or postmarked after that date will be considered to 
the extent practicable.
    Scoping meetings: We will hold public scoping meetings in the form 
of multiple webinars that will occur in February 2020. We will announce 
exact webinar dates, times, and registration

[[Page 3602]]

details on the internet at https://www.fws.gov/birds/management/managed-species/double-crested-cormorants.php.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by one of the following 
methods. Please do not submit comments by both.
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to 
Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2019-0103.
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-HQ-MB-2019-0103; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service Headquarters, MS: JAO/1N, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 
22041-3803.
    We do not accept email or faxes. We will post all comments on 
http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you 
provide.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerome Ford, Assistant Director, 
Migratory Birds, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at 202-208-1050.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is the Federal agency 
delegated with the primary responsibility for managing migratory birds. 
Our authority derives from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, as 
amended (MBTA), which implements conventions with Great Britain (for 
Canada), Mexico, Japan, and the Russia Federation. The MBTA protects 
certain migratory birds from take, except as permitted under the MBTA. 
We implement the provisions of the MBTA through regulations in parts 
10, 13, 20, 21, and 22 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations 
(CFR). Regulations pertaining to migratory bird permits are at 50 CFR 
part 21.
    The double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus, [cormorants]) 
is a fish-eating migratory bird that is distributed across a large 
portion of North America. There are five different breeding populations 
of cormorants, variously described by different authors as the Alaska, 
Pacific Coast, Interior, Atlantic, and Southern populations. Cormorant 
populations have exhibited increasing abundance over the last few 
decades. In response to ongoing damage at aquaculture facilities and 
other damage and conflicts associated with increasing cormorant 
populations, the Service administered regulations that included an 
Aquaculture Depredation Order (which was located at 50 CFR 21.47) and a 
Public Resource Depredation Order (which was located at 50 CFR 21.48) 
from October 2003 until May of 2016.
    The Aquaculture Depredation Order eliminated individual permit 
requirements in 13 States for private individuals, corporations, State 
agencies, and Federal agencies taking cormorants at aquaculture 
facilities. The Public Resource Depredation Order enabled States, 
Tribes, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services in 
24 States, without individual depredation permits, to take cormorants 
found committing or about to commit, and to prevent, depredations on 
the public resources of fish (including hatchery stock at Federal, 
State, and Tribal facilities), wildlife, plants, and their habitats. In 
May of 2016, the depredation orders were vacated by the United States 
District Court for the District of Columbia. The Court concluded that 
the Service did not sufficiently consider the effects of the 
depredation orders on cormorant populations and other affected 
resources and failed to consider a reasonable range of alternatives in 
the review within the environmental assessment issued under the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), in 2014. 
The authority for authorizing lethal take of depredating cormorants 
reverted back to the issuance of individual depredation permits 
pursuant to 50 CFR 21.41.
    Conflicts in aquatic systems continue to exist between cormorants 
and fish stocks managed by Federal, State, and Tribal agencies as 
recreational and/or commercial fisheries, or for species-conservation 
purposes. Cormorant predation of fish also occurs at aquaculture 
facilities and private recreational lakes and ponds. Birders and other 
interested parties value cormorants for their aesthetic and existential 
values.
    The Service is responsible for determining the maximum amount of 
lethal take of cormorants to allow in order to minimize conflicts in 
aquatic systems, while maintaining sustainable populations of 
cormorants and minimizing the regulatory burden on Federal and State 
agencies and individual citizens. In the process of making this 
decision, the Service wants to use an effective and transparent 
decision-making process that ensures collaboration among migratory bird 
and fisheries management programs, fulfills Tribal trust and 
subsistence responsibilities, adheres to legal and regulatory 
requirements under NEPA, and addresses key biological uncertainties. 
When determining total allowable take, the Service must consider 
uncertainty related to cormorant population dynamics, estimated maximum 
sustainable harvest, and risk of over-exploitation. Furthermore, the 
Service and stakeholders must identify appropriate monitoring 
requirements that ensure progress toward stated objectives and inform 
future decisions regarding total allowable take.

Public Scoping

    A primary purpose of the NEPA scoping process is to receive 
suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives to 
consider when drafting the environmental documents and to identify 
significant issues and reasonable alternatives related to the Service's 
proposed action. In order to ensure that we identify a range of issues 
and alternatives related to the proposed action, we invite comments and 
suggestions from all interested parties. We will conduct a review of 
this proposed action according to the requirements of NEPA and its 
regulations, other relevant Federal laws, regulations, policies, and 
guidance, and our procedures for compliance with applicable 
regulations. Once the environmental documents are completed, we will 
offer further opportunities for public comment.

Proposed Action and Possible Alternatives

    The Service has collaborated with State fish and wildlife agencies, 
Tribes, and Federal partners in further addressing cormorant conflicts 
including aquaculture and wild and stocked fisheries. In this 
rulemaking action, we propose these long-term solutions to cormorant 
conflicts:
    (1) Establish a new permit for State wildlife agencies for 
authorizing certain cormorant management and control activities that 
are normally prohibited and are intended to relieve or prevent impacts 
from cormorants on wild and stocked fisheries, aquaculture facilities, 
human health and safety, property, and threatened and endangered 
species (as listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.)). States would have the delegated authority to 
determine whether, when, where, and for what purposes to control 
cormorants within limits set by the Service.
    (2) Establish an aquaculture depredation order, which would allow 
take of cormorants under prescribed conditions at aquaculture 
facilities without the need to acquire an individual permit.
    (3) Both (1) and (2) in combination.
    The proposed action presented in the environmental analysis will be

[[Page 3603]]

compared to the no-action alternative. The no-action alternative will 
compare estimated future conditions without implementation of the 
alternatives listed here to the estimated future conditions with those 
alternative actions in place (i.e., issuance of individual depredation 
permits pursuant to 50 CFR 21.41).

Information Requested

Issues Related to the Scope of the NEPA Review

    We seek comments or suggestions from the public, governmental 
agencies, Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other 
interested parties. To promulgate a proposed rule and prepare a draft 
environmental review pursuant to NEPA, we will take into consideration 
all comments and any additional information received. To ensure that 
any proposed rulemaking effectively evaluates all potential issues and 
impacts, we are seeking comments and suggestions on the following for 
consideration in preparation of additional management for double-
crested cormorants:
    a. Assessment of interest in use of a new special permit by States 
and Tribes;
    b. Appropriate limitations to cormorant management and control 
activities, such as season, scope, and magnitude of expected lethal 
take; and
    c. Potential reporting and monitoring strategies of cormorants by 
States and participating Tribes.
    The Service will act as the lead Federal agency responsible for 
completion of the environmental review. Therefore, we are seeking 
comments on the identification of direct, indirect, beneficial, and 
adverse effects that might be caused by additional management for 
double-crested cormorants. You may wish to consider the following 
issues when providing comments:
    a. Impacts on floodplains, wetlands, wild and scenic rivers, or 
ecologically sensitive areas;
    b. Impacts on park lands and cultural or historic resources;
    c. Impacts on human health and safety;
    d. Impacts on air, soil, and water;
    e. Impacts on prime agricultural lands;
    f. Impacts to other species of wildlife, including endangered or 
threatened species;
    g. Disproportionately high and adverse impacts on minority and low-
income populations;
    h. Any other potential or socioeconomic effects; and
    i. Any potential conflicts with other Federal, State, local, or 
Tribal environmental laws or requirements.

Public Availability of Comments

    Written comments we receive become part of the public record 
associated with this action. Before including your address, phone 
number, email address, or other personal identifying information in 
your comment, you should be aware that the entire comment--including 
your personal identifying information--may be made publicly available 
at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your 
personal identifying information from public review, we cannot 
guarantee that we will be able to do so. Comments and materials we 
receive, as well as supporting documentation we use in preparing the 
environmental analysis, will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service Headquarters (see ADDRESSES, above).

Scoping Meetings

    See DATES for information about upcoming scoping webinars. The 
purpose of scoping webinars is to provide the public with a general 
understanding of the background of the proposed rule, alternatives and 
activities it would cover, alternative proposals under consideration, 
and the Service's role and steps to be taken to develop the draft 
environmental analysis for the proposed action. Additionally, the 
purpose of these meetings and public comment period is to solicit 
suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives for 
the Service to consider when preparing the draft environmental 
documents. Oral comments will be accepted at the webinars.
    Comments can also be submitted by methods listed in ADDRESSES. Once 
the draft environmental documents and proposed rule are complete and 
made available for review, there will be additional opportunity for 
public comment on the content of these documents through an additional 
comment period.

Scoping Webinar Accommodations

    Please note that the Service will ensure that the public scoping 
webinars will be accessible to members of the public with disabilities.

Public Comments

    To promulgate a proposed rule and prepare a draft environmental 
review pursuant to NEPA, we will take into consideration all comments 
and any additional information received. Please note that submissions 
merely stating support for or opposition to the proposed action and 
alternatives under consideration, without providing supporting 
information, will be noted but not considered by the Service in making 
a determination. Please consider the following when preparing your 
comments:
    a. Be as succinct as possible.
    b. Be specific. Comments supported by logic, rationale, and 
citations are more useful than opinions.
    c. State suggestions and recommendations clearly with an 
expectation of what you would like the Service to do.
    d. If you propose an additional alternative for consideration, 
please provide supporting rationale and why you believe it to be a 
reasonable alternative that would meet the purpose and need for our 
proposed action.
    e. If you provide alternate interpretations of science, please 
support your analysis with appropriate citations.
    The alternatives we develop will be analyzed in our draft 
environmental review pursuant to NEPA. We will give separate notice of 
the availability of the draft environmental review for public comment 
when it is completed. We may hold public hearings and informational 
sessions so that interested and affected people may comment and provide 
input into the final decision.

Authority

    The authority for this action is the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 
1918 (16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.) and the National Environmental Policy Act 
of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).

    Dated: December 6, 2019.
Rob Wallace,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2020-00616 Filed 1-21-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P