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How thick should a management plan be?  To be sure, there are some thick plans out there heavy enough for use as a door stop.  Seriously, a management plan is as thick as it needs to be based upon near term (10-15 years) management needs, legal and regulatory complexity, the environmental setting of the protected area, social and economic issues, resources at the disposal of the team developing the plan, and other factors.  In wealthy nations such as the USA, there are abundant resources to develop detailed management plans, a Cadillac version if you will.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and other land management agencies in the USA have hundreds of management plans online and they continue to develop new management plans.  A perusal of such plans should benefit anyone in the Pacific contemplating a management plan for a protected area.

Below is a glimpse at the contents of management plans for two Pacific U.S. national wildlife refuges, one very large (Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument;362,000 km2) and one very small (Keālia National Wildlife Refuge; 283 ha), in the Hawaiian Islands.  These examples display the lengths to which a management plan can go and should plant some ideas in other Pacific Islander staff developing plans for protected areas in other areas of the Pacific.  The general themes are likely to be similar with additional chapters related to human use of resources and traditional cultures.

 Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands is over 1,900 km long and 362,000 km2 in area.  The management plan for Papahānaumokuākea, authored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, is over 900 pages plus 350 pages of appendices and supporting documents and 600 pages of responses to comments on the draft management plan.  Management plans for National Forests in the USA are often thicker as they attempt to address a parade of multiple uses (timber harvest, non-timber forest products, mining, oil & gas, livestock grazing, biodiversity, archaeology, watersheds, recreation, and more).  

The Papahānaumokuākea Monument was established in 2006 and the plan was finalized in 2008 demonstrating that even a complex plan in the intricate, environmental, regulatory process of the USA and covering a large geographic area (one of the largest protected areas in the world) can be written in a short time. Here is what the Papahānaumokuākea management plan covers as stated in the plan’s executive summary:

The management framework for the Monument includes key elements to move toward an ecosystem approach to management. An ecosystem approach to management requires the implementation and coordination of multiple steps in a comprehensive and coordinated way.  These key management framework elements include:

The legal and policy basis for establishment of the Monument;
The vision, mission, and guiding principles that provide the overarching policy direction for the Monument;
Institutional arrangements between Co-Trustees and other stakeholders;
Regulations and zoning to manage human activities and threats;
Goals to guide the implementation of action plans and priority management needs; and
Concepts and direction for moving toward a coordinated ecosystem approach to management.

The third section of the plan consists of 22 action plans that address six priority management needs and provide an organizational structure for implementing management strategies. These priority management needs are to understand and interpret Monument resources, conserve wildlife and their habitats, reduce threats to Monument resources, manage human activities, facilitate coordination, and achieve effective operations. Together, the priority management needs, action plans, and strategies are aimed at achieving long-term ecosystem protection for the Monument.

The action plans contain strategies and activities that are aimed at achieving a desired outcome. Each action plan describes the issue or management need, the context and history of the action plan’s particular issue or management need, and the strategies and activities planned for the Monument over the next 15 years. Ongoing evaluation and monitoring of these management actions will be conducted to provide informed decision-making and to provide feedback to management on the success of meeting the stated desired outcomes of each action plan.

The six priority management needs, action plans, and corresponding desired outcomes are as follows:

Understanding and Interpreting the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Marine Conservation Science Action Plan

Protect the ecological integrity of natural resources by increasing the understanding of the distributions, abundances, and functional linkages of marine organisms and their habitats in space and time to improve ecosystem-based management decisions in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Native Hawaiian Culture and History Action Plan

Increase understanding and appreciation of Native Hawaiian histories and cultural practices related to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and effectively manage cultural resources for their cultural, educational, and scientific values.

Historic Resources Action Plan

Identify, document, preserve, protect, stabilize, and where appropriate, reuse, recover, and interpret historic resources associated with Midway Atoll and other historic resources within the Monument.

Maritime Heritage Action Plan

Identify, interpret, and protect maritime heritage resources in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Conserving Wildlife and Habitats

Threatened and Endangered Species Action Plan

Safeguard and recover threatened and endangered plants and animals and other protected species within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Migratory Birds Action Plan

Conserve migratory bird populations and habitats within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Habitat Management and Conservation Action Plan

Protect, maintain, and where appropriate, restore the native ecosystems and biological diversity of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Reducing Threats to Monument Resources

Marine Debris Action Plan

Reduce the adverse effects of marine debris to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument resources and reduce the amount of debris entering the North Pacific Ocean.

Alien Species Action Plan

Detect, control, eradicate where possible, and prevent the introduction of alien species into Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Maritime Transportation and Aviation Action Plan

Investigate, identify, and reduce potential threats to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument from maritime and aviation traffic.

Emergency Response and Natural Resource Damage Assessment Action Plan

Minimize damage to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument resources through coordinated emergency response and assessment.

Managing Human Uses

Permitting Action Plan

Implement an effective and integrated permit program for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument that manages, minimizes, and prevents negative human impacts by limiting access only for those activities consistent with Presidential Proclamation 8031 and other applicable laws, regulations and executive orders.

Enforcement Action Plan

Achieve compliance with all regulations within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Midway Atoll Visitor Services Action Plan

Offer visitors opportunities to discover, enjoy, appreciate, protect, and honor the unique natural, cultural, and historic resources of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Coordinating Conservation and Management Activities

Agency Coordination Action Plan

Successfully collaborate with government partners to achieve publicly supported, coordinated management in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Constituency Building and Outreach Action Plan

Cultivate an informed, involved constituency that supports and enhances conservation of the natural, cultural, and historic resources of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Native Hawaiian Community Involvement Action Plan

Engage the Native Hawaiian community in active and meaningful involvement in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument management.

Ocean Ecosystems Literacy Action Plan

Cultivate an ocean ecosystems stewardship ethic, contribute to the nation’s science and cultural literacy, and create a new generation of conservation leaders through formal environmental education.

Achieving Effective Monument Operations

Central Operations Action Plan

Conduct effective and well-planned operations with appropriate human resources and adequate physical infrastructure in the main Hawaiian Islands to support management of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Information Management Action Plan

Consolidate and make accessible relevant information to meet educational, management, and research needs for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Coordinated Field Operations Action Plan

Coordinate field activities and provide adequate infrastructure to ensure safe and efficient operations while avoiding impacts to the ecosystems in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Evaluation Action Plan

Determine the degree to which management actions are achieving the vision, mission, and goals of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Keālia National Wildlife Refuge Management Plan

Even small protected areas in the USA can have substantial management plans.  The Keālia National Wildlife Refuge, Hawai‘i is a mere 283 ha in size and boasts a 388-page management plan or comprehensive conservation plan as they are called, and is authored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Table of Contents for the Keālia National Wildlife Refuge Management Plan

Readers’ Guide
Chapter 1. Introduction

1.1 Purpose and Need for the CCP
1.2 Planning and Management Guidance

1.2.1 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mission
1.2.2 National Wildlife Refuge System
1.2.3 National Wildlife Refuge System Mission and Goals
1.2.4 National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966

1.3 Relationship to Previous and Future Refuge Plans

1.3.1 Future Planning

1.4 Refuge Establishment and Purposes

1.4.1 Refuge Establishment
1.4.2 Refuge Purpose

1.5 Refuge Goals
1.6 Relationship to Ecosystem Planning Efforts
1.7 Planning and Issue Identification

1.7.1 Public Scoping Sessions
1.7.2 Issues Addressed in the CCP

Chapter 2: Alternatives, Goals, Objectives, and Strategies

2.1 Considerations in CCP Design
2.2 General Guidelines

2.2.1 Implementation Subject to Funding Availability
2.2.2 Interagency Coordination and Collaboration
2.2.3 Threatened and Endangered Species Protection and Recovery
2.2.4 Historic and Cultural Resource Protection
2.2.5 Fire Management
2.2.6 Participation in Planning and Review of Regional Development Activities
2.2.7 Adaptive Management
2.2.8 Integrated Pest Management
2.2.9 National Environmental Policy Act Compliance
2.2.10 Law Enforcement

2.3 Summary of CCP Actions 
2.4 Goals, Objectives, Strategies, and Rationale

2.4.1 Goal 1
2.4.2 Goal 2
2.4.3 Goal 3
2.4.4 Goal 4
2.4.5 Goal 5
2.4.6 Goal 6
2.4.7 Goal 7

Chapter 3. Physical Environment

3.1 Refuge Introduction

3.2 Climate

3.2.1 Global Climate Changes and Projections
3.2.2 Climate Change in Hawai‘i
3.2.3 Sea Level Rise
3.2.4 Ecological Responses to Climate Change
3.2.5 Climate Change at Keālia Pond NWR

3.3 Geology and Soils

3.3.1 Keālia Pond
3.3.2 Molokini

3.4 Hydrology

3.4.1 Annual Hydrologic Cycle
3.4.2 Water Quality of the Pond

3.5 Topography/Bathymetry
3.6 Environmental Contaminants

3.6.1 Molokini Contaminants

3.7 Land Use

3.7.1 Previous Land Uses
3.7.2 Molokini Land Use

Chapter 4: Refuge Biology and Habitat

4.1 Biological Integrity Analysis
4.2 Conservation Targets

4.2.1 Conservation Target Selection

4.3 Endangered Hawaiian Waterbirds

4.3.1 Ae‘o (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni) or Hawaiian Stilt
4.3.2 ‘Alae ke‘oke‘o (Fulica alai) or Hawaiian Coot
4.3.3 Koloa maoli (Anas wyvilliana) or Hawaiian Duck
4.3.4 Nēnē (Branta sandvicensis) or Hawaiian Goose

4.4 Other Hawaiian Waterbirds
4.5 Migratory Waterfowl
4.6 Migratory Shorebirds

4.7 Raptors

4.7.1 Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
4.7.2 Pueo (Asio flammens sandwichensis)

4.8 Seabirds

4.8.1 ‘Ua‘u kani (Puffinus pacificus) or Wedge-tailed Shearwater
4.8.2 ‘Ou (Bulweris bulwerii) or Bulwer’s Petrel
4.8.3 Noio kōhā (Anous stolidus) or Brown Noddy
4.8.4 Noio (Anous minutus) or Black Noddy
4.8.5 ‘Iwa (Fregata minor) or Great Frigatebird

4.9 Endangered Mammals
4.10 Terrestrial Invertebrates
4.11 Acquatic Invertebrates
4.12 Marine Reptiles

4.12.1 Honu ‘ea (Chelonia mydas) or Hawksbill Turtle
4.12.2 Honu (Eretmochelys imbricate) or Hawaiian Green Turtle

4.13 Native Plants
4.14 Pest Species

4.14.1 Mammals
4.14.2 Birds
4.14.3 Amphibians
4.14.4 Invertebrates
4.14.5 Plants
4.14.6 Diseases

4.15 Habitats

4.15.1 Coastal Dune/Beach Strand
4.15.2 Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats
4.15.3 Coastal Dry Forests
4.15.4 Offshore Islet (Molokini)

4.16 Ecological and Biological Research

Chapter 5. Refuge Facilities and Public Use Programs

5.1 Refuge Infrastructure and Administrative Facilities

5.1.1 Headquarters and Visitor Center
5.1.2 Maintenance Facilities
5.1.3 Trails
5.1.4 Roads and Parking Areas
5.1.5 Fences and Gates
5.1.6 Wells, Pumps, Water Distribution Lines, and Water Control Structure
5.1.7 Visitor and Environmental Education Shelter

5.2 Visitor Services

5.2.1 Accessibility of Recreation Sites and Programs
5.2.2 Special Use Permits

5.3 Wildlife Observation and Photography

5.3.1 Desired Future Conditions for Wildlife Observation and Photography

5.4 Interpretation

5.4.1 Desired Future Conditions for the Interpretation Program

5.5 Environmental Education

5.5.1 Desired Future Conditions for the Environmental Education Program

5.6 Volunteers

5.6.1 Desired Future Conditions for the Volunteer Program

5.7 Partnerships

5.8 Law Enforcement

5.8.1 Desired Future Conditions for Law Enforcement

5.9 Outdoor Recreation Opportunities and Trends on Maui

5.9.1 Federal, State, and County Recreational Parks

Chapter 6. Cultural Resources, Social, and Economic Environment

6.1 Refuge Cultural Resources

6.1.1 Mythological and Traditional Accounts
6.1.2 Pre-Contact History
6.1.3 Euro-American Cultural History
6.1.3 The Mahele, 1848-1851
6.1.4 Post-1850s History
6.1.5 Refuge Archaeological/Cultural Surveys
6.1.6 Archaeological Resources
6.1.7 Paleontological Resources

6.2 Social and Economic Setting

6.2.1 Population
6.2.2 Housing
6.2.3 Education
6.2.4 Economics


Table 1.1 Refuge Acquisition History for Keālia Pond NWR
Table 2.1 Keālia Pond NWR Management Summary
Table 3.1 Rates of Water Level Decline for Periods with No Significant Inflow to Pond
Table 4.1 Biological Integrity, Diversity, and Environmental Health Characteristics
Table 4.2 Priority Resources of Concern
Table 4.3 Conservation targets for the CCP
Table 4.4 Waterfowl Ecological Attributes, Indicators, and Condition Parameters
Table 4.5 Shorebird Ecological Attributes, Indicators, and Condition Parameters
Table 4.6 Shorebirds of Primary Conservation Importance in the Pacific Region
Table 6.1 Population figures for selected areas
Table 6.2 Census Bureau estimated median and per capita income figures, 2009


Figure 1.1 Map of Main Hawaiian Islands
Figure 1.2 Map of Refuge Land Status & Boundary
Figure 1.3 Map of Molokini Islet Unit
Figure 2.1 Map of Habitat Management
Figure 3.1 Average monthly wind speeds at Keālia Pond NWR, 2002-2006
Figure 3.2 Annual cycle of average monthly precipitation (top) and total annual precipitation with 5-year moving average (bottom) at Kīhei, HI, 1950-2008
Figure 3.3 Annual cycle of average monthly temperature (top) and mean annual temperature with 5-year moving average (bottom) at Kahului airport, HI, 1955-2008
Figure 3.4 Water level depths and monthly precipitation at Keālia Pond NWR, 1996-1999
Figure 3.5 Water level depths and monthly precipitation at Keālia Pond NWR, 2000-2003
Figure 3.6 Water level depths and monthly precipitation at Keālia Pond NWR, 2004-2007
Figure 3.7 Water Temperature and Salinity, 2002-2007
Figure 3.8 Predicted and observed salinity concentration
Figure 3.9 Hourly pH, turbidity, and water level data at Keālia Pond, 2002-2006
Figure 3.10 Algal group biovolume as a percent of total biovolume at Keālia Pond, 2002-2005
Figure 3.11 Map of Elevation & Contours
Figure 3.12 Pond volume and area as a function of water level elevation, USFWS 2000
Figure 4.1 Peak counts of ae‘o at Keālia Pond, 1995-2006
Figure 4.2 Peak counts of ‘alae ke‘oke‘o at Keālia Pond, 1995-2006
Figure 4.3 ‘Alae ke‘oke‘o Nesting Areas Map
Figure 4.2 Ae‘o Nesting Areas Map
Figure 4.5 Peak counts of kōlea at Keālia Pond, 1994-2010
Figure 4.6 Peak counts of ‘ūlili at Keālia Pond, 1994-2006
Figure 5.1 Administrative & Public Use Facilities


Appendix A: Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge Species Lists
Appendix B: Compatibility Determinations and Appropriate Uses Findings
Appendix C: Plan Implementation and Costs
Appendix D: Wilderness Review for Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
Appendix E: Integrated Pest Management Program
Appendix F: ESA Section 7 Consultation
Appendix G: Fire Management Plan 2004
Appendix H: Statement of Compliance
Appendix I: Literature Cited
Appendix J: Common Acronyms and Abbreviations
Appendix K: Public Comments and Service Responses
Appendix L: Planning Team Members