The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today opened public comment on a draft plan developed to ensure
long-term conservation of fish, wildlife and plants, and to sustain outdoor recreational opportunities and
environmental education and interpretation in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
The draft plan, called a Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement,
outlines a 15-year management plan for the refuge. Conservation plans are revised periodically for every
refuge around the country, as a matter of course. The draft plan contains six alternatives for long-term
management, ranging from the continuation of current practices to the designation of three geographic
areas (including the Arctic Refuge coastal plain) for potential inclusion within the National Wilderness
Preservation System, and the potential designation of four additional Wild and Scenic Rivers on the
The draft plan does not identify a preferred alternative among the six presented today; all of the options
remain under active consideration and the Service is conducting a series of public meetings and
reviewing public comments before finalizing the plan, which will ultimately identify a preferred
alternative. Public comments will be accepted through November 15, 2011. None of the alternatives
would change existing protocols for subsistence harvest.
In conducting a wilderness review for each geographic area under consideration, the Service evaluated
whether a recommendation to designate wilderness would assist in achieving the purposes for which the
refuge was established, and to determine the suitability for inclusion into the National Wilderness
Preservation System. As part of the analysis, the Service assessed the areas’ ecological, recreational,
cultural, and symbolic values; their wildlife, water, vegetation, mineral, and soil resources; and their
public uses and refuge management activities. The Service also addressed whether the refuge could
effectively manage each area to preserve its wilderness character – meaning the benefits and impacts of
managing each area as wilderness were compared to the benefits and impacts of managing the area
under an alternate set of goals, objectives, and strategies not involving a wilderness designation.
In addition to the public comment period, the Service announced it will hold a series of public meetings
in Alaska at the following locations (a full list of dates and meeting facilities is available at:
Fairbanks: Open House – August 24
Public Hearing – October 19
Anchorage: Open House – September 20
Public Hearing – September 21
Arctic Village: August 30
Fort Yukon: to be announced
Kaktovik: to be announced
Venetie: September 1
The involvement of the public is a critical part of the multi-year Comprehensive Conservation Plan
development process, and we look forward to receiving substantive public input on the draft plan,” said
Sharon Seim, Natural Resource Planner in the Alaska Region Division of Conservation Planning and
Policy, "We want to know what people like, what they don't like, and why. We want to know what
we've missed and how we can make the plan better."
Comments on the draft must be submitted no later than November 15, 2011. A copy of the draft plan,
and additional materials, is available on the Arctic Refuge website at http://arctic.fws.gov/ccp.htm.
Public comments may be submitted by e-mail to: ArcticRefugeCCP@fws.gov or by postal service mail
to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arctic NWR – Sharon Seim, 101 12th Ave, Rm 236, Fairbanks, AK
99701. Comments may also be faxed to: (907) 456-0428.
If the final plan recommends additional Wilderness and/or Wild and Scenic River designations, the
recommendation (s) would require approval by the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the
Secretary of the Interior, and the President. The President would then submit the recommendation to
Congress, which alone has the authority to make final decisions on any proposed Wilderness or Wild
and Scenic River designations.
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
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Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is located only 26 miles west of New York City’s Times Square. It is a 12-square-mile natural oasis in an area that is mostly suburban, making the refuge an outstanding area for migrating waterfowl to stop, rest and feed on their migration.