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 Release on June 27, 2012

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Public Comments on Wall Lake Game Production Area Disposal Hand County, South Dakota

 

 

Contacts: Eddie N. Bennett, 303-236-8165
                David McGillivary, 303-236-4411
                Leith Edgar 303-236-4588; Leith_Edgar@fws.gov                           

 

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking public comment on a draft environmental assessment (draft EA) for the State of South Dakota’s proposed Wall Lake Game Production Area Disposal in Hand County. The Wall Lake Game Production Area was acquired in-part with Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act funds.  Public comments are welcome for a 30-day period, which ends July 27, 2012.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) is proposing to dispose of a property purchased in 1963.  This property was purchased in-part with Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration program funds which provided 75% of the cost of the land that became part of the Wall Lake Game Production Area (GPA).  The property is owned by GFP and was purchased with the intent to provide game production habitat, wildlife refuge, and public hunting opportunities.  The property is an isolated, nearly inaccessible tract, separated from other GPAs in the area.

The need for this action is that Wall Lake GPA provides little to no wildlife habitat management opportunities, and present public access and use challenges for GFP.  Attempts to address particularly the public access and use problem have been unsuccessful.   Therefore, it has been determined that the Wall Lake GPA no longer serves the purposes for which it was originally acquired.  Upon examining the effects of this proposed property disposal, GFP has determined that the affected wildlife resources and public interests would be unaffected by the proposed property disposal and loss of Federal interest.

The proposed removal of the federal interest in the 80-acre parcel constitutes a federal action subject to the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended.  The Service is therefore required to prepare a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to analyze the effects on the human environment and document the findings.  The Service will use this draft EA to determine if the proposed action is likely to result in significant impacts to the human environment.  If it is determined that there are no significant adverse impacts, the Service will issue a Final EA and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).  If it is determined, conversely, that significant impacts might occur, the Service would be required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The GFP previously provided notices regarding this proposed action to more than 20 local landowners and numerous individuals, through meetings at Wall Lake and Miller.  GFP also has published the notice and supporting documentation on their website: http://gfp.sd.gov/.

The draft EA, prepared by the Service and GFP, analyzes the environmental effect of the proposed Disposal of Property.  The GFP concluded that the proposed disposal will have no impacts on floodplains or wetlands, will not affect historical and cultural resources, nor will it have any effect on threatened, endangered or candidate species.

GFP has determined that the land no longer serves the purpose for which it was acquired and is requesting approval from the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program to dispose of the property through a market auction.  The federal funds are administered by the Service and come from an excise tax on pistols, revolvers, firearms, rifles and shotguns, shells and archery equipment.

Copies of the draft EA are available online by clicking on the title of the document at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/federalassistance.  Those without internet access may request copies by calling the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program at 303-236-8165.  Comments should be sent to:

Chief, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 25486
Denver, Colorado 80225.

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 at http://www.facebook.com/USFWSMountainPrairie, follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/USFWSMtnPrairie, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/

 - FWS -