Joe McCauley, Joseph_McCauley@fws.gov, 804-514-5136
Tylar Greene, Tylar_Greene@fws.gov, 413-253-8329
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will release, for public review, the draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and environmental impact statement (EIS) for Chincoteague and Wallops Island national wildlife refuges (NWR) in Virginia. The draft document describes three alternatives that were evaluated for management of the refuge for the next 15 years. It also provides an analysis of the potential effects on the environment from implementing each alternative.
The draft document will be available for public review and comment through July 15, 2014. We will consider all comments before implementing any alternative and completing a final CCP for the refuge. Beginning May 15, 2014, the document can be viewed online at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/chincoteague/what_we_do/conservation.html.
The Service has identified alternative B as the preferred alternative for management of the refuge. This alternative balances habitat management with public use and access. Under alternative B, actions that would best meet refuge purposes, goals and a balanced management approach include:
Wildlife and habitat management: The refuge would continue to manage habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, song birds, and other migratory birds, including bald eagles and piping plovers.
Public use and access: The refuge proposes to build a new 8.5-acre parking lot protected by dunes at a new recreational beach. The National Park Service (NPS) would maintain the new one mile-long recreational beach that would be 1.5 miles north of the current recreational beach. The draft CCP also evaluates use of over-sand vehicles to facilitate priority public uses.
Chincoteague ponies: The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company would maintain the Chincoteague pony herd up to 150 ponies.
Comments can be submitted in writing or in person. There will be three open house events where individuals can come by and ask questions about the draft CCP/EIS. Open house dates and times are: June 23, 2014 from 5pm to 8pm at the refuge visitor center, 8321 Beach Road, Chincoteague, VA 23336, June 24, 2014 from 4pm to 7pm at the Delmarva Discovery Center, 2 Market Street, Pocomoke City, MD 21851, June 25, 2014 from 4pm to 7pm at the Eastern Shore Community College Great Hall, 29300 Lankford Highway, Melfa, VA 23410, and on June 26, 2014 from 1pm to 4pm at the refuge visitor center. We will also hold a formal public hearing where oral comments will be recorded on June 26, 2014 from 6pm to 9pm at the Chincoteague Community Center, 6155 Community Drive, Chincoteague, VA 23336.
Comments can also be submitted via e-mail, mail and fax. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Chincoteague NWR CCP” in the subject line of your e-mail. You can mail comments to Thomas Bonetti, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035. You can fax comments to 413-253-8468.
Joe McCauley, spokesman for the draft CCP/EIS, will also hold office hours from 10:30am to 7pm on Monday, May 19 through Thursday, May 22 at the refuge visitor center.
Chincoteague NWR was established in 1943 to provide habitat for migratory birds. Currently spanning more than 14,000 acres, the refuge provides habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, songbirds, and many other species of wildlife and plants. Refuge management programs restore threatened and endangered species such as the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel and the piping plover.
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