Three Public Scoping Meetings for Cache River National Wildlife Refuge Expansion
For Immediate Release -- April 18, 2012
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will host three public scoping meetings to gather input on a proposal to increase the size of the acquisition boundary for Cache River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Land purchases for a national wildlife refuge can only be made within an approved acquisition boundary. If approved, the acquisition boundary for Cache River NWR would increase by 94,803 acres and the new acquisition boundary would encompass 280,377 acres in Monroe, Prairie, Woodruff, Jackson, Cross, and Poinsett Counties. The Service would purchase land within this acquisition boundary from willing sellers only.
As part of the America’s Great Outdoors program, the Service seeks to conserve a large functional landscape for wildlife, ecosystem services, and historic and cultural resource protection and to provide the American public with outstanding recreational opportunities.
The Service is working with the state of Arkansas and a variety of public and private partners to propose expanding the acquisition boundary. Cache River NWR currently contains approximately 68,500 acres of fee title lands and is administered by the Central Arkansas NWR Complex, which also includes Bald Knob, Big Lake, and Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuges. Cache River NWR is managed primarily for wintering waterfowl, other migratory birds, and other native species of wildlife.
The meetings are scheduled for:
Monday, May 7
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Newport High School Cafeteria
406 Wilkerson Drive
Tuesday, May 8
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Augusta High School Cafeteria
1011 Main Street
Thursday, May 10
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Brinkley Convention Center
1501 Weatherby Drive
“We look forward to hearing from our neighbors about this exciting proposal,” said Keith Weaver, Project Leader for the Central Arkansas NWR Complex. “There are many willing sellers that are located outside the current acquisition boundary that are unable to sell their land to the Service. This proposal would provide them that opportunity.”
If approved, the Service will draw funding for this land acquisition primarily from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. These are not derived from traditional tax revenues, but are collected from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps, entrance fees from certain national wildlife refuges, and import duties on arms and ammunition (Migratory Bird Conservation Fund), and from the sale of offshore oil leases (Land and Water Conservation Fund). The money is intended for land conservation.
An acquisition boundary for a national wildlife refuge is entirely non-regulatory and non-restrictive and the Fish and Wildlife Service will acquire land from willing sellers only.
Weaver also commented that in addition to providing increased opportunities for willing sellers this proposal will enable greater conservation potential for the Cache River and Bayou DeView, which will enhance water quality, restore wildlife habitats for a diversity of migratory and resident species, provide additional public access and wildlife-dependent recreation such as hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography. “Additionally, increased visitation to new refuge lands will benefit local businesses from increased demands and sales of products and services,” Weaver remarked.
Public comments will be used to guide the Service through the next step in the planning process, which is development of a Draft Land Protection Plan and Environmental Assessment. From May through July 2012, the Service will develop and analyze alternatives for the expansion, including specific locations and management options. The public will have a chance to review and comment on those alternatives as early as August. The planning team expects to send the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a final plan for approval by the winter 2012.
The state and federal government have parallel wildlife and habitat conservation goals in this area. This proposal helps combine these goals and the efforts of other partners into one larger, combined project conservation area that includes non-governmental and local organizations.
This proposal supports the state of Arkansas Comprehensive Conservation Strategy and Action Plan and complements the state’s landscape conservation efforts, as well as national initiatives such as the Partners-In-Flight Initiative, and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
- Through June 10, 2012, comments on the proposal may be provided by:
- E-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mailing to Tina Chouinard, Natural Resource Planner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 49 Plainsbrook Place, Jackson, TN 38305 or Fax to 731/664-1566
- Attending a public scoping meeting and providing written or verbal comments.
- The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http:www.fws.gov and http://www.fws.gov/southeast.