Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

For Immediate Release

Date:  June 20, 2011
11-46

Contact:
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 North Dakota and South Dakota

 Public Comments on the Environmental Assessment and Draft Land Protection Plan Will Be Accepted Until July 25, 2011.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today issued the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and accompanying Land Protection Plan (LPP) for the proposed Dakota Grassland Conservation Area.  The EA and LPP outline the actions necessary to establish the area, and analyze the potential impacts of a conservation easement program in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota and South Dakota. The outcome of the assessment will be to determine whether the Service should proceed with the establishment of the proposed Dakota Grassland Conservation Area.

The purpose of the proposal is to work with willing landowners to accelerate the conservation of wetland and grassland habitats within the Prairie Pothole Region in eastern North Dakota and South Dakota, through the use of conservation easements. The easements will be used to create the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area. 

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 will host two public meetings to provide information about and receive public comment on the Service’s draft EA and LPP. These meetings will give the public the opportunity to learn more about the draft EA and LPP developed for the project, and to provide input as part of the 30-day review period comment. 

Service staff will share information, answer questions and take public comments about the draft EA and LPP, and easement program at the following meetings:

June 28, from 7:00 – 9:00 PM:      Best Western – Doublewood Inn
1400 East Interchange Avenue
Bismarck, North Dakota

June 29, from 7:00 – 9:00 PM:      Miller High School Lunch Room
623 East 4th Street
Miller, South Dakota

The EA and LPP documents are available for review and comment on the regional planning website (http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/planning/lpp/nd/dkg/dkg.html).  Written comments concerning the EA/LPP are welcome and should be submitted to dgca_comments@fws.gov or to the mailing address indicated above by July 25, 2011.

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


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.