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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

July 9, 1999
Royce Huber 402-376-3789
Sharon Rose 303-236-7917, x415

PUBLIC HAS UNTIL AUGUST 19, 1999 TO COMMENT
ON FUTURE PLANS FOR FORT NIOBRARA AND
VALENTINE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES

Response and interest in the future planning for the Fort Niobrara and Valentine National Wildlife Refuges was so great that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is extending the comment period for the public until August 19, 1999.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently prepared draft comprehensive conservation plans and environmental assessments for Fort Niobrara and Valentine National Wildlife Refuges. These plans outline how the Service intends to manage such unique habitats of sandhill prairies, mixed prairies, rocky mountain coniferous forests, eastern deciduous forests and northern boreal forests for wildlife and the enjoyment of people in the coming years. Specifically, the plans for the Valentine NWR need to address how the Service can best conserve and manage one of the largest contiguous blocks of Nebraska sandhills in the Nation to preserve indigenous wildlife and provide enjoyment for visitors.

"With the amount of public interest in these refuges, we want to make sure we hear from as many in the local community as possible," said Ralph Morgenweck, director for the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region. "We’re hoping that anyone who may have been on vacation or just unable to look at these plans previously will take this opportunity to provide us with comments," Morgenweck added.

Copies of these draft comprehensive conservation plans and environmental assessments have been mailed to all agencies, organizations, and individuals who expressed interest in the management of Fort Niobrara and Valentine National Wildlife Refuges. For those who did not receive a copy and would like to review and comment, please contact:

Royce Huber, Refuge Manager
Fort Niobrara / Valentine NWR Complex
HC14, Box 67
Valentine, Nebraska 69201
402-376-3789

These plans are also available for review in the following local libraries:

Ainsworth Alder Public Library                                                       Valentine Public Library
5th and Main Street                                                                         324 N. Main Street
Ainsworth, Nebraska 69210                                                           Valentine, Nebraska 69201

These documents can be obtained electronically through the Service’s Region 6 land acquisition and refuge planning website. The address is Follow the link to "CCP Status in Region 6," click on Nebraska on the Region 6 map, and look under the "Status" column for links to both Fort Niobrara and Valentine draft plans.

Written comments should be mailed by August 19, 1999 to:

Bernardo Garza
Land Acquisition and Refuge Planning
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 25486
Denver, Colorado 80225

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.


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