Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

December 20, 2010                                                                

Contacts: 
Steve Kallin, (307) 733-9212
Toni Griffin, (303) 236-4378
                                                                                         
           

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to hold public meeting for comprehensive conservation plan and environmental assessment for National Elk Refuge 

On January 11, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will hold a public scoping meeting for development of a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental Assessment (EA) for the National Elk Refuge.

The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 requires the Service to develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose of the CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year plan for achieving individual refuge purposes and contributing toward the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System, consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife management, conservation, legal mandates, and Service policies. In addition to outlining broad management direction on conserving wildlife and their habitats, CCPs identify wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, including opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation. 

Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System was established for a specific purpose. The Service uses these purposes as the foundation for developing and prioritizing the management goals, objectives, and public use guidelines for each refuge within the National Wildlife Refuge System. The planning process is a way for us and the public to evaluate management goals and objectives that will ensure the best possible approach to wildlife, plant, and habitat conservation, while providing wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities that are compatible with each refuge’s establishing purposes, as well as with the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

A number of diverse habitats are found on the National Elk Refuge, including grassy meadows, marshes, timbered areas, sagebrush, and rocky outcroppings. A variety of waterfowl, including trumpeter swans, can be seen on nearly 1,600 acres of open water and marshlands. At least 47 mammal species and nearly 175 species of birds have also been observed on the refuge. Some notable species include moose, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, gray wolves, mountain lions, bald eagles, and peregrine falcons.

The refuge's nearly 25,000 acres provide a rich habitat for the world’s largest wintering concentration of elk. In addition to the large elk herd, a free-roaming bison herd also winters at the refuge. The Bison and Elk Management Plan, completed in 2007, provides goals, objectives, and strategies for managing bison and elk on the National Elk Refuge and in Grand Teton National Park for the next 15 years. As such, the CCP will not address bison and elk management on the refuge, but will address all other aspects of refuge management, including migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, visitor use, and cultural resources. 

The public scoping meeting is scheduled for January 11, 2011. During public scoping, we request input as to which issues affecting refuge management or public use should be addressed during the planning process. This meeting is essential to developing a list of issues that the CCP will address.

The meeting will follow an informal “open house” format, and the public is encouraged to attend anytime between the hours of 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on the day of the event. During that time, attendees will have the opportunity to meet with Service personnel, learn more about the CCP process, and provide input. The meeting date, time, and location are as follows:

January 11, 2011
Snow King
400 East Snow King Avenue
Grand Teton Room
Jackson, Wyoming
4:00 - 7:00 pm

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-