Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

Audubon National Wildlife Refuge

3275 11th St. NW

Coleharbor, ND  58531

 

December 1, 2010

Nick Kaczor (303) 236-4387  

Lloyd Jones (701) 442-5474, ext. 111           

 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Host Public Meetings Regarding the Proposed Dakota Grassland Conservation Area in the Dakotas and Montana

 

 Public Scoping Comments Regarding This Landscape Conservation Effort Will Be Accepted Until December 31, 2010

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is proposing to accelerate the conservation of wetland and grassland habitats within the Prairie Pothole Region in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana through the use of conservation easements. The easements will be used to create the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area (Dakota Grassland).  The proposed Dakota Grassland will be part of a landscape-scale, strategic habitat conservation effort to conserve populations of migratory birds by protecting the unique, highly diverse, and endangered ecosystem known as the Prairie Pothole Region.

Establishment of the Dakota Grassland would allow the Service to further the protection of wetland and grassland habitats by working with private landowners to develop conservation easement agreements. Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements between landowners and the Service. The easements protect wetlands and grasslands from being converted to other uses, but allow for the continuation of traditional activities such as farming wetlands when dry from natural conditions and livestock grazing and haying in grasslands.  

The Service wants to hear from the community and will hold several meetings about the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area proposal from December 14-16, 2010 at various locations (see meeting schedule below). At the meetings, you will be able to meet with Service personnel, learn about the proposal, and provide input. These meetings will be forums for sharing ideas and issues about proposed land conservation efforts. The Service also encourages the public to comment through letters, emails, and phone calls to the local or regional contact listed below.  Comments and information received will help determine the appropriate level of environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act to develop the land protection plan for the proposed Dakota Grassland Conservation Area.

The Service encourages individuals or group representatives to call, write, or request information on upcoming meetings with Service staff to discuss this proposal and their perspectives on the future of the Dakota Grasslands.  The Service will accept public scoping comments until December 31, 2010.  However, there will be another opportunity to comment on the Land Protection Plan in the winter of 2011.

You can also visit the project website for more information – http://www.fws.gov/audubon/DakotaGrassland.html

All meetings will begin at 7:00pm local time at the following dates and locations:

December 14, 2010

Sleep Inn – Inn and Suites

2400 10th St. SW

Minot, ND 58701

 

December 15, 2010

Gladstone Inn & Suites

111 2nd St. NE

Jamestown, ND 58401

 

December 16, 2010

Crossroads Hotel

100 4th St. SW

Huron, SD 57350

 

For more information or to provide comments, contact:

Lloyd Jones, Wildlife Refuge Manager

Audubon National Wildlife Refuge

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

3275 11th Street NW

Coleharbor, ND 58531

DGCA_comments@fws.gov

701- 442-5474 x111

 

Nick Kaczor, Planning Team Leader

Division of Refuge Planning

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

P.O. Box 25486, DFC

Denver, Colorado 80225

DGCA_comments@fws.gov

303- 236-4387

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.  We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation—known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

-FWS-