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 Oaks NWR has reached is highlighted:
- Preplanning: Plan the Plan
- Initiate Public Involvement and Scoping
- Review Vision Statement and Goals and Determine Significant Issues
- Develop and Analyze Alternatives, Including the Proposed Action
- Prepare a Draft CCP and NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) Document
- Prepare and Adopt Final CCP
- Implement Plan, Monitor and Evaluate
- Review and Revise the Plan
Big Oaks NWR Comprehensive Conservation Plan
The staff at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR, refuge) have begun work on a comprehensive conservation plan, or CCP, for the refuge. The CCP establishes a management "blueprint" for the next 15 years. Goals, objectives, and strategies developed for the plan will ensure that the refuge fulfills its establishment purposes and that its management is consistent with the policies and mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
It typically takes two to three years to complete a CCP. The steps followed in comprehensive conservation planning are shown in the box on the right. Public participation will be an essential part of this planning process.
The Notice of Intent (pdf, 199 KB) to prepare a CCP for Big Oaks NWR was published in the Federal Register on January 17, 2013. To view a pdf you need Acrobat Reader software, which is available as a free download from the Adobe website.
Refuge and regional office staff have begun gathering information and resources for the planning process. A preliminary, internal meeting was held at Big Oaks NWR to kick off the planning process during the last week of February.
The first phase of the planning process includes a public scoping period. During this period the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) solicits input from partners, stakeholders, and others interested in the refuge to identify and clarify issues and concerns that can be addressed in the plan. To support communication and increase opportunities for public input, open houses are hosted by the refuge during this time period. Staff from the refuge and regional office are present at the open houses to answer questions and discuss the refuge. The open houses are an opportunity for everyone to be actively involved in the planning process, learn more about the refuge, and express thoughts and opinions about the management of the refuge.
Three Public Open Houses Scheduled
The official public scoping period for Big Oaks NWR will run from March 25 through April 26, 2013. We encourage you to participate by submitting your thoughts and ideas using the Big Oaks NWR CCP Comment Form (64 KB) and by joining us at one or more of the following open houses:
Monday, April 8, from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Jennings County Public Library
2375 North State Highway 3, North Vernon, Indiana 47265
Tuesday, April 9, from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Tyson Activity Center (former Tyson Auditorium)
100 North High Street, Versailles, Indiana 47042
Wednesday, April 10, from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Jefferson County Public Library
420 West Main Street, Madison, Indiana 47250
The planning team will continue gathering information and resources over the coming months, and will engage Service partners in a planning workshop this summer. Following the workshop, there will be an internal review of comments received during scoping by upper management in the Service. The planning team will then use all of the input gathered during scoping to develop a range of alternatives for the future management of the refuge.
An environmental assessment will be developed to evaluate how well each alternative addresses management issues, and a preferred alternative will be identified by the Service. The environmental assessment will be accompanied by a draft CCP based on the preferred alternative, and the combined document will be released and distributed for public review and comment. Thereafter, a final CCP will be created, approved, and used to guide the future management of Big Oaks NWR.
Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, established in 2000 as an overlay refuge on the former Jefferson Proving Ground in southeastern Indiana, encompasses approximately 51,000 acres of forest, shrubland, grassland, and wetland habitats in a post-glacial landscape. The Indiana Air National Guard operates the 1033-acre Jefferson Range, which is located near the center of former proving ground, not designated as part of the refuge. The refuge contains a 4,000-acre public use area that provides opportunities for fishing, hunting, wildlife observation and photography, environmental education, and hiking. More information can be found on the refuge website: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/big_oaks/
More information on the Big Oaks NWR comprehensive conservation planning effort is available by emailing, calling, or writing the refuge or the Midwest Region Division of Conservation Planning.
Midwest Region Planning Office
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Division of Conservation Planning
Attention: Big Oaks NWR CCP
5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990
Bloomington, MN 55437-1458
Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge
Big Oaks NWR
Attention: CCP Comment
1661 West JPG Niblo Road
Madison, Indiana 47250
People with hearing impairments are invited to use the Federal Information Relay System: 1-800-877-8339