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Comprehensive Conservation Planning

The purpose of a CCP is to specify a management direction for the Refuge for the next 15 years. The goals, objectives, and strategies for improving Refuge conditions—including the types of habitat we will provide, partnership opportunities, and management actions needed to achieve desired conditions – are described in the CCP. The Service’s preferred alternative for managing the Refuge and its effects on the human environment are described in the CCP as well.

The Refuge System is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Service is the primary Federal entity responsible for conserving and enhancing the Nation’s fish and wildlife populations and their habitats. Although the Service shares this responsibility with other Federal, State, tribal, local, and private entities, the Service has specific trust resource responsibilities for migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, certain anadromous fish, certain marine mammals, coral reef ecosystems, wetlands, and other special aquatic habitats. The Service also has similar trust responsibilities for the lands and waters it administers to support the conservation and enhancement of all fish and wildlife and their associated habitats.

The Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (CCP/EIS) for Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge was released in late August 2004 and is now available to read online. This plan, required by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, outlines a vision and evaluates four alternatives for future management of Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). In the Preferred Alternative D, the Service identified Refuge expansion, habitat restoration projects, and visitor services improvements as a means to enhance the role of Nisqually NWR in protecting and restoring the lower Nisqually watershed and delta and in helping to fulfill the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System. A Record of Decision was signed by the Regional Director on November 1, 2004 adopting Alternative D. Signing of the ROD means that implementation of the adopted alternative may begin. 

Community participation in the CCP planning process has been integral to the development of a high quality CCP for Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Changes made to the CCP/EIS from draft to final were based largely on public comments, and are summarized in the Summary document. Appendix M (Comments and Responses), found in both the Final CCP/EIS and Summary, includes a summary of all comments received as well as detailed responses to these comments. 

The full and summary documents are available at the Nisqually NWR office and visitor center, and the following public libraries: Olympia Timberland Library, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington-Suzallo Library, William G. Reed Library in Shelton, and The Evergreen State College Library. An electronic copy of the documents and Planning Update #8 can be obtained at

The Next Steps 

Implementation of the CCP will occur over the next 15 years. Ongoing habitat restoration programs will continue. Restoration efforts will be expanded as suitable properties are acquired from willing sellers within the new approved Refuge boundary. Estuarine restoration is in progress and will take several years. 

Increased monitoring efforts have begun, including a new fish monitoring study. Several step-down plans will be developed as needed. Refuge specific regulations will be published in the Federal Register and implemented on the ground. 

Refuge Expansion 

Refuge expansion provides a unique and timely opportunity to more effectively protect the Nisqually delta and lower watershed. Expanding the potential acquisition boundary of the Refuge by 3,479 acres makes long-term protection possible for key portions of the Nisqually River corridor, riparian and bluff habitat, and freshwater wetlands. Increased land protection would result from land acquisition, easement, or cooperative agreement with willing landowners. Land tracts within the expansion area are prioritized by their biological significance, existing or potential threats to wildlife habitat, significance of the area to refuge management and administration, and/or existing commitments to purchase or protect the land. Landowners within the approved boundary have begun to approach the Refuge about land protection options. The Refuge will continue to make contact with landowners whose properties are of the highest priority for protection. Refuge expansion will provide habitat for many fish and wildlife, sustain wildlife corridors and increase connectivity, and help to protect and maintain water and habitat quality. 

Waterfowl Hunting 

Hunting is one of six priority public uses identified by Congress in the Refuge Improvement Act (1997) for National Wildlife Refuges. As part of a national heritage of hunting, Nisqually NWR will be managed to provide a quality waterfowl hunt program. The program will be consistent with waterfowl hunting regulations on adjacent State lands, with a clear boundary created and enforced to eliminate confusion for visitors. During the hunting season, almost 200 acres of the Refuge will be open to a 7-day/week, 25-shell limit hunt. Including the State-managed lands, over 800 acres will be available for waterfowl hunting. Improved sanctuary areas will also result from these changes. See the Waterfowl Hunting page for more information.



Last Updated: May 02, 2014
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