Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge has been selected to receive $800,000 from a federal land conservation fund to acquire 80 acres of pasture land that is one of only two wintering sites used by the entire world population of the Semidi Islands Aleutian cackling goose, which numbers only about 140 birds. The parcel is located just north of Pacific City, Oregon.
"Acquiring this land for inclusion in the refuge is essential to the long-term protection of the Semidi birds, as it will permanently protect one of their most important wintering sites," said Roy Lowe, project leader of the Oregon Coastal National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which includes the Nestucca Bay Refuge. "Providing long-term secure wintering habitat for Aleutian cackling geese was one of the main reasons the refuge was established."
"This property was a top national priority for addition to a refuge because its habitat is so critical for the remaining Aleutian cackling geese," said Russell Hoeflich, Oregon director for The Nature Conservancy. "We congratulate the Fish and Wildlife Service for this refuge addition and thank them for doing an excellent job of protecting the incredible natural diversity of the Oregon coast for future generations." The Conservancy recently purchased the property from a private owner, and will not profit from sale of the property to the government, Hoeflich added.
Addition of the parcel to the refuge will also help secure high-value habitat for thousands of other migratory birds that spend time around Nestucca Bay, where as many as 4,000 geese have been observed using pasture land. As refuge land, the newly acquired tract will be grazed to maintain the short grass pasture habitat that is essential for the geese, thus contributing to the local dairy farming economy and at the same time helping to address depredation by the geese on nearby farm lands, Lowe said. The community of Pacific City is rapidly growing toward the site and a new housing development is being built just above it, increasing the need for protecting this important open space, he added.
Lowe credited The Nature Conservancy with being a critical partner in the acquisition of the property. The Conservancy was able to complete the initial purchase of the land in a timely manner while the Service worked to secure funding to purchase it from the Conservancy and add it to the refuge. "Theyâ€™ve been an invaluable partner," Lowe said.
The total purchase price of the property is $825,000 based on a recent appraisal, with the additional money coming from the agency's annual inholding/emergency funds. With the acquisition, Nestucca Bay NWR will grow to 893 acres. The refuge was established in 1991 with strong support from Senator Mark Hatfield, Congressman Les AuCoin and other legislators. It is one of six refuges managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service along the Oregon coast.
The acquisition grant is one of 12 purchases announced January 14 by Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer. The purchases will be made by four federal land management agencies in seven western states for a total of $4.7 million.
"The nearly $5 million to be used for these land purchases will bring into public ownership 1,587 acres that have extraordinary natural, scenic, recreational or historical value," Secretary Kempthorne said. "Acquiring these parcels promotes conservation while helping to ensure effective public lands management."
The special land conservation fund used to purchase these properties was established by Congress under the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act of 2000. The Act authorizes the purchase of private "inholdings" from willing sellers in western states whose acreage is surrounded by or located next to certain lands under the management of the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, or the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Other properties to be purchased by these three agencies with the new grants are located within or next to Bridger-Teton National Forest (Wyoming), City of Rocks National Reserve (Idaho), John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Oregon), Santa Fe National Forest (New Mexico), Shasta-Trinity National Forest (California), White River National Forest (Colorado), and Zion National Park (Utah).
The pending land purchases are funded from already completed federal land sales. Under the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, the Bureau of Land Management is authorized to sell fragmented or isolated parcels of public land that are difficult to manage, as well as lands that may have residential or commercial value, and then use the proceeds to support land-conservation purposes.
To date, a total of $52.2 million in funding under the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act has been approved for the acquisition of 25 parcels comprising 12,388 acres.
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 www.fws.gov
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