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

January 10, 2013

Contacts:

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

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Public Comments on the Marcotte Game Production Area Disposal of the Marcotte Tract, Meade County, South Dakota

 

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 Marcotte Game Production Area Disposal of the Marcotte Tract in Meade County. The Marcotte Game Production Area was acquired in-part with Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act funds.  Public comments are welcome for a 15-day period, which ends January 25, 2013.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) is proposing to dispose of a property purchased in 1954.  This property was purchased in-part with Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act program funds which provided 75% of the cost of the land that became the Marcotte Game Production Area (GPA).  The property is owned by GFP and was purchased with the intent to provide big game production habitat in an effort to reduce depredation on surrounding private agricultural lands.  The Marcotte Tract consists of the remaining cropland originally acquired under Federal Assistance Grant W-27-L-1 (W-5). Several other tracts of cropland area on the Marcotte GPA were previously disposed of due to development of the Interstate Highway System.

The need for this action is the direct result of residential and municipal development adjacent to the Marcotte Tract, resulting in significant management challenges to SDGFP. Specifically, these needs and challenges are threefold: (1) Residential and municipal development has encroached on the Marcotte Tract rendering it of little value as wildlife habitat or for public hunting; (2) Residential and municipal development on the surrounding landscape has replaced traditional agricultural land use, thereby eliminating the need to address area agricultural depredation concerns; and (3) adjacent residential and municipal development has resulted in public uses that have been determined to conflict with purposes for which the property was acquired and managed.  Therefore, it has been determined that the Marcotte Tract within the Marcotte 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 60.81-acre Marcotte Tract 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).

Disposal of real property by the SDGFP is normally conducted according to SDCL 41-2-29.1, which includes a requirement to issue a public notice. However, the Marcotte Tract is being sold to the City of Sturgis authorized by specific legislation (HB1020) enacted by the 87th Session of the South Dakota Legislature (SL 2012, Ch 204, § 1). As such, public input opportunities were deemed sufficient by the SDGFP through the legislative process, including committee hearings and public testimony, as well as citizen participation in the law making process.

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.

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 - FWS -