Where in the Plan Are We?
These are the steps that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service follows in comprehensive conservation planning; the step that Rice Lake 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
Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan
The Refuge completed its Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) in December 2007. Copies of both the plan and a plan summary were available in January 2008. Both are available in portable document format (pdf) on the Rice Lake NWR planning page.
The CCP establishes management policies for both Mille Lacs NWR and Rice Lake NWR, which manages Mille Lacs NWR, and ensures that they fulfill their established purpose and mission.
The CCP establishes goals and objectives for Refuge management, and it specifies strategies for achieving those objectives. We believe that the CCP outlines an ambitous but achievable future for Rice Lake NWR and Mille Lacs NWR.
However, it is important to note that plans are just that, plans. The CCP was developed to guide management and will be used in strategic planning and prioritizing programs. The CCP does not constitute a commitment for staffing increases or operational and maintenance increases that may be detailed in the plan.
Highlights of the CCP include:
- On Mille Lacs NWR, management will continue to emphasize Common Tern production and deterring gulls from nesting.
- Water levels on Rice Lake will be manipulated by the existing control structure or by re-establishing the natural outlet to Rice Lake. By allowing the lake to function more as a natural system, we expect the wild rice production to increase in the long-term. In the short-term, this could mean that low water levels in some years may result in poor access for wild rice harvest by American Indian tribe members.
- Rice Lake NWR will enhance its forested area while maintaining some grassland for bird species as well as for public viewing.
- At Rice Lake NWR, more than 5,000 acres of bog will be restored with more dedicated use of prescribed fire to inhibit brush invasion.
- All of the buildings will be removed from Headquarters Ridge on Rice Lake NWR. The buidings are below Service standards and need considerable work, which could result in further degradation of cultural resources. Headquarters Ridge has some of the most significant cultural values that are known on the Refuge, and the American Indian community has requested the removal of the buildings. A relocation site is not yet identified.
- Public use on Rice Lake NWR will consist of wildlife-dependent recreation, with more infrastructure added to support interpretation, wildlife observation, and nature photography. The hunting program will be managed to accommodate more hunters while maintaining quality opportunities.
Mille Lacs NWR is comprised of two small islands in Mille Lacs Lake: Spirit Island and Hennepin Island. The islands are located about 30 air miles southwest of Rice Lake NWR. Spirit Island is 0.24-acre in size and Hennepin Island is 0.33-acre, making Mille Lacs NWR the smallest refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Mille Lacs NWR holds one of only four Common Tern breeding colonies in Minnesota. The Common Tern is listed as a threatened species in the state and is considered a species of management concern with national significance. Refuge management focuses on Common Tern production. There is no public access to either Spirit Island or Hennepin Island.
For more information on Mille Lacs NWR or to request a copy of the CCP, please send us an e-mail, call or write to the Refuge Manager at Rice Lake NWR:
TTY: 1-800-877-8339 (Federal Relay)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge
36289 State Highway 65
McGregor, MN 55760