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News Release

Sierrita Natural Gas Pipeline Project – Request for Use of Refuge Access Roads

30-day Public Comment Period for Draft Compatibility Determination

Contact: Sally Gall, Refuge Manager at (520) 823-4251 x 102

Sierrita Gas Pipeline L.L.C. has proposed construction and operation of a 60-mile long natural gas pipeline that would pass approximately 100 feet west of the boundary of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. The pipeline would stretch from Tucson AZ to Sasabe AZ at the international boundary with Mexico. Sierrita has proposed initiating construction of the pipeline in May 2014, with the intention of delivering natural gas to customers in Mexico beginning in fall 2014.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating a proposal by Sierrita to use some Refuge roads on Buenos Aires NWR to construct and maintain the proposed pipeline. The proposed route for the Sierrita pipeline will not cross the Refuge. However, because of the close proximity of the proposed route to the Refuge’s western boundary, Sierrita has requested access to the pipeline through the Refuge.

Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge is located in southern Pima County in the Altar Valley. It is bordered on the south by Mexico and extends northward along state highway 286. The north refuge boundary is 50 miles southwest of Tucson. Primary objectives of refuge management are to establish a breeding population of endangered masked bobwhite quail, conserve other endangered or threatened animals or plants, manage the natural abundance and diversity of refuge wildlife and habitats, and provide wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities for the public.

Prior to allowing use of refuge roads by Sierrita for construction and maintenance of the pipeline, federal law requires that the Service first determine it is a compatible use. A compatible use is any use of a national wildlife refuge that, based on the professional judgment of the Refuge Manager, will not interfere with fulfillment of the National Wildlife Refuge System mission or the purposes for establishing the Refuge. The Service develops a compatibility determination to help evaluate proposed uses, including anticipated impacts and stipulations that will ensure compatibility. A draft compatibility determination has been prepared that addresses potential damage to roads and wildlife habitat and for disturbance to the visiting public. It also addresses stipulations by which Sierrita can mitigate these impacts.

The compatibility determination is currently available for public review and comment. The 30-day public review period begins March 31, 2014 and ends April 29, 2014. You can request a paper copy by phoning 520-823-4251 x 102, or email sally_gall@fws.gov. Written comments may be faxed to 520-823-4247, sent via email to sally_gall@fws.gov, or mailed to Refuge Manager, Buenos Aires NWR, P.O. Box 109, Sasabe AZ 85633.
Last Updated: Mar 31, 2014
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