|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
October 4, 2005
Contacts: Linda Kelly, (303) 236-8132
Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Availability of
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today published a draft Comprehensive Conservation
Plan Environmental Assessment for 39 “limited-interest” National Wildlife Refuges in North Dakota. The Service is seeking public comment on the draft CCP, which once finalized, will guide management of these refuges for the next 15 years. The 1997 National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act requires the Service to develop a CCP for every refuge in the system, including these 39 refuges in North Dakota.
The 39 limited-interest refuges addressed in the draft CCP are:
Appert Lake; Ardoch; Bone Hill; Brumba; Buffalo Lake; Camp Lake; Canfield Lake; Cottonwood Lake; Dakota Lake; Half Way Lake; Hiddenwood; Hobart Lake; Hutchinson Lake; Johnson Lake; Lake George; Lake Otis; Lake Patricia; Lambs Lake; Lords Lake; Lost Lake; Maple River; Little Goose; Pleasant Lake; Pretty Rock; Rabb Lake; Rose Lake; Rock Lake; School Section Lake; Sheyenne Lake; Sibley Lake; Silver Lake; Snyder Lake; Springwater; Stoney Slough; Sunburst Lake; Tomahawk; Willow Lake; Wintering River; and, Wood Lake.
To request a full copy of the draft CCP and environmental assessment please contact:
The Service will accept written comments from the public on the draft CCP until November 18, 2005. Send written comments to:
Laura King, Planning Team Leader
Comments may be sent via e-mail to: Laura_King@fws.gov
The Service will also hold open houses where the public can personally comment on the draft between October 12 and November 11, 2005 (specific dates, times, and locations for the open houses will be announced in local newspapers).
These refuges, the primary purpose of which is migratory bird conservation, were initially established in the 1930s and 1940s as flowage and refuge easements signed by the State of North Dakota or private landowners. Approved acquisition boundaries around adjacent easement lands were later established through executive orders or legislation. Most easement agreements were perpetual and currently, 47, 296 easement acres remain inside a total approved acquisition boundary of 54, 140 acres. After 70 years, 99% of the acres within these approved boundaries remain in private ownership.
As part of the CCP process, the Service examined these easement agreements and related historical records. The Service concluded that the original intent of the easement program was to regulate hunting and trapping, manage water levels in impoundments, and control activities on impoundments or other main water bodies to minimize or eliminate impacts on migratory birds and other wetland-dependent wildlife. The Service further concluded that the original intent of the easement program was not to regulate development or other activities (other than hunting) occurring on upland areas, manage naturally occurring wetlands (unless these wetlands were encumbered by other Service easements) or control public access.
After determining the limited-interest nature of these refuges, the Service also concluded that, based on a suite of criteria developed by managers, planners, and biologists, 6 of the 39 refuges do not have the potential to function as national wildlife refuges as prescribed by the 1997 Act. These criteria include the ability of the refuge to achieve one or more of the goals of the National Wildlife Refuge System as stated in the 1997 Act; the ability to achieve the purpose of the specific refuge; biodiversity status; other associated conservation lands; and, current state or federal management these areas. Accordingly, the Service has proposed divestiture of the following 6 refuges:
Bone Hill; Camp Lake; Cottonwood Lake; Lake Patricia; School Section Lake; and, Sheyenne Lake.
If the Service does divest of these 6 refuges, the Service will work closely with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and others to ensure that these lands are reverted to the proper management entity. No proposed actions, outside the federal government’s rights, will be conducted without the willing participation of affected refuge landowners.
The Service would continue to manage the remaining 33 limited-interest refuges, and would work with willing landowners to find opportunities for added habitat conservation and visitor services programs for these refuges. The Service would also rehabilitate structures and manage refuge impoundments to support migratory birds, particularly waterfowl, and undertake a variety of other management actions intended to enhance the conservation value of these lands.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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