REFER TO: DAN HUFF, U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, (303)236-7400, EXT. 238

STEVE IOBST, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

First Public Meeting for the Elk and Bison Planning Process on February 10, 2001

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Park Service (NPS) will soon begin preparing a management plan/environmental impact statement for elk and bison that inhabit the National Elk Refuge (NER) and Grand Teton National Park (GTNP). These animals are part of the AJackson Hole elk and bison herds,@ which comprise one of the largest concentrations of free-ranging elk and bison in North America, approximately 14,000 elk and 600 bison. The Jackson elk and bison herds migrate across several jurisdictional boundaries including the NER, GTNP, Yellowstone National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Bureau of Land Management resource areas, and state and private lands. Because of the wide range of authorities and interests, the USFWS and NPS are seeking to implement a cooperative approach to management planning involving all of the associated federal and state agencies and a broad range of organized and private interests. In the planning process, the agencies will evaluate a range of alternatives involving several major issues including (but not limited to) habitat management, winter feeding, disease management, hunting programs, visitor use impacts, and elk and bison population size targets relevant to NER and GTNP.

The agencies will initiate a pre-scoping phase of the planning process with a public meeting on February 10, 2001. One of the main objectives of the pre-scoping process is to begin a dialogue with stakeholders. This dialogue will be expanded to include the state of Wyoming and beyond once the formal planning process begins this coming spring. In this preliminary phase of planning, we will share information, discuss current conditions, explore people=s views on what they would like to see in the future for elk and bison conservation, examine obstacles in realizing these possibilities, define the project area, and design a public involvement program for the formal planning process.

The public meeting on February 10, 2001 will be held at the Snow King Resort, Grand Room, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The main topics of discussion will be an introduction to the planning process, the current conditions related to elk and bison, and what people would like to see in the future. The information gained through the pre-scoping phase of planning will be compiled and made available for public review.

The USFWS and NPS welcome all interested individuals and organizations to become involved in the planning process for the NER & GTNP elk and bison management plan/environmental impact statement. A mailing list is currently being compiled for that process. If you would like to be included, please send your name and address to: NER & GTNP Elk and Bison Planning Office, P.O. Box 510, Jackson, WY 83001-0510.

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