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

October 23, 2012

Contact:

Bernardo Garza (303) 236-4377                      


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Releases Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Lake Andes Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex

 

Ringneck duck at Lake Andes NWR. Credit: USFWS
Ringnecked duck at Lake Andes NWR. Credit: USFWS

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is making available the Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Lake Andes Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex and opening a 30-day public review and comment period. The Service will hold a public meeting on October 30, 2012 in the town of Lake Andes to solicit input on the draft plan for the Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

The Lake Andes NWR Complex encompasses three distinct units: Lake Andes NWR, Lake Andes Wetland Management District (WMD), and Karl E. Mundt NWR. The Complex lies within the Plains and Prairie Potholes Region (Region) in South Dakota, which is an ecological treasure of biological importance for wildlife, particularly waterfowl and other migratory birds. This Region alone produces approximately 50 percent of the continent’s waterfowl population. Hunting and wildlife observation are the two most prevalent public uses on the Complex, followed by fishing and wildlife photography.

Lake Andes NWR was authorized by Executive Order in 1936 and formally established in 1939 to preserve an important piece of shallow water and prairie habitats for waterfowl and other water birds. This 5,639-acre refuge includes Lake Andes, a 4,700-acre lake created by the last ice age.

The Lake Andes WMD was established in 1958 to protect wetland and grassland habitat that is critical to our nation’s duck population. The District manages 18,782 acres of grassland and wetland habitats in WPAs distributed within Aurora, Bon Homme, Brule, Charles Mix, Clay, Davison, Douglas, Hanson, Hutchinson, Lincoln, Turner, Union and Yankton Counties in southeastern South Dakota. All of these WPAs are open to hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, trapping, and other forms of compatible wildlife-dependent recreation. Additionally, the District protects nearly 80,000 acres of grassland and wetland habitats through easements that prevent habitat degradation or loss on private lands.

Karl E. Mundt NWR was established in 1974, under the legislative authority of the Endangered Species Act to protect an area along the eastern bank of the Missouri River supporting nearly 300 endangered bald eagles each winter. This refuge’s riparian forests, prairie, and upland habitats provide important resting, feeding, breeding, and nesting sites for a wide array of neotropical migratory birds, indigenous turkey, and white-tailed deer.

The draft CCP and EA identifies the purpose and need for a management plan, outlines the legal foundation for management of the refuge complex, and describes and evaluates alternatives for managing wildlife, habitat, and wildlife-dependent public use for all units of the complex. The draft CCP identifies three draft alternatives. These alternatives for managing the Refuge Complex include a No Action Alternative (A), the Proposed Action (Alternative B), and the Intensive Management Alternative (C). Under the Proposed Action, the staff would use a science-based prioritization system to manage all the lands administered by the Refuge Complex to attain long-term productivity. Management efforts would be directed to maintaining and restoring native grasslands and wetland complexes according to their priority ranking. All Refuge Complex lands would be managed, but emphasis would be given first to lands ranked higher by the science-based priority system.

The Service will conduct a public meeting to give a brief overview of the key issues and answer questions. The public will also have an opportunity to offer comments.

The meeting date, time, and location is:

  • Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 7-9 p.m., Lake Andes Community Center, 207 West Main Street, Lake Andes, SD 57356

There are many ways for the public to provide comments on the Draft CCP and EA including written letters, emails, facsimile, or by attending the public meeting. The Service encourages the public to provide feedback on the contents of the plan.

Written comments should be submitted by November 30, 2012 to Bernardo Garza, Planning Team Leader, P.O. Box 25486, Denver, CO 80225-0486. Facsimiles can be sent to: (303) 236-4792. Emails can be submitted to bernardo_garza@fws.gov. For more information about the plan, call: (303) 236-4377 or (605) 487-7603.

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 -