U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
December 14, 2011
David Lucas 303-236-4366
Steve Berendzen 303-289-0350
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Completes Land Protection Plan for the Expansion and Proposed Land Exchange at the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that it has completed planning for an expansion of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) as well as the exchange of a 300 foot right of way (approximately 100 acres) on the refuge’s eastern border. The refuge is located west of Denver along the Front Range between Highway 93 and Indiana Street, bordering Boulder and Jefferson counties.
Pursuant to the Rocky Flats NWR Act of 2001, the Service was directed to make available a parcel of land up to 300 feet wide from the existing Indiana Street right of way on the eastern border of the NWR for the sole purpose of transportation improvements.
“The exchange of the 300 foot right of way for this additional wildlife habitat and open space is a good outcome for the citizens of Colorado,” said Steve Guertin, Regional Director. “Accepting this exchange proposal will significantly expand the Rocky Flats NWR not only for the benefit of wildlife but it will also anchor a network of green space for the people of the Denver metro area to enjoy for years to come,” he said.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision-making processes by considering the effects of their proposed actions on the quality of the natural or human environment. The Service has conducted a NEPA review of the alternatives related to the expansion of the refuge boundary and the possible real estate transactions associated with the transfer of the right of way.
In the Rocky Flats Environmental Assessment (EA), the Service proposed to expand the administrative boundary of Rocky Flats NWR and exchange the transportation corridor (approximately 100 acres) for 617 acres of land adjacent to the southwest corner of the refuge that will provide an important habitat for wildlife.
“Expanding the refuge boundary will facilitate the acquisition of this environmentally significant land,” said Guertin. “This portion of land provides quality habitat for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.”
The land within the expanded boundary also includes xeric tallgrass prairie, a globally rare vegetation type, and it would provide an important corridor between the Refuge and existing regional open space to the west. Additional habitat may be conserved as a part of the land exchange through the donation of unexercised mineral estates on Department of Energy land adjacent to the Refuge, allowing those lands to become part of Rocky Flats NWR as well.
The Service completed a careful analysis of the proposed federal actions and a “Finding of No Significant Impact” was signed by the Regional Director on December 2, 2011. The Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Dan Ashe, approved the Land Protection Plan expanding the refuge boundary and describing the specifics of the proposed land exchange on December 8, 2011.
The Service determined that the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority’s (JPPHA) proposal meets the requirements set forth in the Rocky Flats Act and that the Service will proceed with the exchange proposal received from JPPHA. Although the Service will immediately begin taking steps to complete the exchange, it will not complete the final exchange action prior to January 10, 2012.
For more information regarding Rocky Flats NWR, visit our website at: www.fws.gov/rockyflats
For more information, please contact:
Division of Refuge Planning
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 25486, DFC
Denver, CO 80225
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
6550 Gateway Road
Commerce City, CO 80022
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 http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our Twitter feed, watch our YouTube channel and view our Flickr photo stream.