Division of Conservation Planning
Midwest Region

Where Are We in the Plan?

These are the steps that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service follows in comprehensive conservation planning; the step that Big Muddy NWR has reached is highlighted:

  1. Preplanning: Plan the Plan
  2. Initiate Public Involvement and Scoping
  3. Review Vision Statement and Goals and Determine Significant Issues
  4. Develop and Analyze Alternatives, Including the Proposed Action
  5. Prepare a Draft CCP and NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) Document
  6. Prepare and Adopt Final CCP
  7. Implement Plan, Monitor and Evaluate
  8. Review and Revise the Plan

Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation PlanPhotograph shows vista of Iowa WMD

Draft Plan Available for Public Comment; Open Houses to be Held
Activity So Far
The Refuge
Next Steps

For More Information

Draft Plan Available for Public Comment; Open Houses to be Held

The Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge (NFWR, refuge) Environmental Assessment and Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (EA/Draft CCP; pdf, 22.8 MB) is ready for public review.  This review and comment period will start October 2, 2013 and end November 20, 2013. 

You can read the plan (pdf, 22.8 MB) on this website; CDs and paper copies of the plan are available upon request by submitting an e-mail to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) regional office at: r3planning@fws.gov

The Service will be hosting public open houses to discuss the plan and solicit comments. Paper copies of the EA/Draft CCP and comment forms will be available at the open houses:

See the section below titled “For More Information” on how to submit comments about the plan if you cannot attend the open houses.

Paper copies can also be viewed at several area libraries. Click here for a list of libraries and their location.

Activity so Far

Initial conversations about comprehensive planning for Big Muddy NFWR began mid-year of 2007 to review policy, discuss the core team, tour the refuge, and gather background information. The initial phase of the planning process—scoping—officially began on May 16, 2007 when a Notice of Intent to prepare a CCP appeared in the Federal Register (pdf, 51KB). Scoping, according to the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for implementing NEPA, is “an early and open process for determining the scope of issues to be addressed and for identifying the significant issues related to the proposed action.” Scoping allows the Service to solicit input from partners, stakeholders, and others interested in the future of refuge management.

In October 2007 Regional Office planners and refuge staff met to discuss likely planning issues, data needs, and to develop a draft version of the refuge vision and goals for public review. A planning team formed, made up of refuge staff, Regional Office planning staff, representatives from other programs within the Service, and representatives from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Formal public scoping began in December 2007 with a series of public open houses held in seven communities along the Missouri River across the state. We announced the meetings via letters to those on the refuge mailing list, the Big Muddy NFWR planning web page, local media outlets, and e-mail distribution lists. Collectively, more than 100 people attended the open house meetings and submitted dozens of comments. Comments gathered during public scoping as well as comments from Service staff form the basis of a number of planning issues.

The planning team also met with invited representatives from the Service, Missouri Department of Conservation, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss refuge management concerns and opportunities and develop a range of alternatives in response to the planning issues.

We grouped comments that were similar into 15 separate issues and sorted the issues according to specific criteria. First, we evaluated each issue to see if it fit within the scope of the planning process and found three of the 15 were outside the scope. We identify those issues below along with an explanation of their exclusion. Next, we reviewed the remaining issues and sorted them into two categories: 1) driving issues: those that suggested a range of possible changes in management, and 2) non-driving issues: those that did not suggest a range of possible changes in management. This produced eight driving issues, which we consolidated into three groups: Land and Water Conservation, Visitor Services and Refuge Administration, and Conservation Footprint. These final three issue groupings are the basis for the planning alternatives. We considered the non-driving issues throughout the planning process, but addressed them the same way under each alternative.

Information from the planning workshops and meetings was used to develop management alternatives as well as objectives and strategies for the Draft CCP. An internal review of the EA and Draft CCP was completed on May 13, 2013.  Now, the plan is ready for public review and comment.

The Refuge

Established in 1994, Big Muddy NFWR today includes more than 17,000 acres of floodplain habitat along the Missouri River and is authorized to grow to 60,000 acres. All land acquisition for the refuge is from willing sellers.  Working closely with state and federal land management agencies and its many neighbors, the refuge finds innovative ways to return historic floodplain habitat benefiting fish, wildlife, and people. This can be as simple as allowing the native vegetation to return on its own and as complex as constructing side channels to the river. Refuge visitors enjoy hunting, fishing, and viewing within eleven separate units distributed along 300 river miles.

Next Steps

All the public comments received on the draft plan will be considered during the development of the Final CCP.  A Final CCP will be prepared, posted to this website, distributed internally, and available to the public upon request.  The final plan will be the management guidance of the district over the next 15 years.

For More Information

For more information on the Big Muddy NFWR planning process, please send a note either via e-mail or through the mail, or call Refuge Manager Tom Bell at:

Toll-free: 800-611-1826
TTY: 1-800-877-8339 (Federal Relay)

Big Muddy NFWR
Attention: CCP Comment
4200 New Haven Road
Columbia, MO 65201

Last updated: November 5, 2013
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