FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 12, 1997

Diana M. Hawkins or

Vicki M. Boatwright



National Wildlife Refuges in 4 Southeastern States

to Receive Approximately $250,000 to Fund Needed Improvements

National wildlife refuges in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and North Carolina will receive funds and other monetary and non-monetary contributions totaling approximately $250,000 to complete badly needed operational and maintenance projects on refuges in these states.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southeast Regional Director Noreen K. Clough, the funds are in the form of $63,500 in grants awarded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation coupled with additional contributions from conservation groups and corporate sponsors. On behalf of the Service, Clough thanked the Foundation and all contributors for their support for the refuges and said, "When the Service acts as the catalyst to bring together the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's grant opportunities with other conservation partners, the true benefactors are our children and those of future generations."

Clough noted that 1997 has been designated by the Service as the "Year of the National Wildlife Refuge System," and that in the year 2003, Americans will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first designated refuge -- Florida's Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. The Foundation, Clough said, has chosen to help the Service commemorate these two events by providing refuge managers with the opportunity to apply for challenge grants for conservation projects that will directly benefit the fish and wildlife resources on their refuges. The challenge required at least a one-to-one federal-nonfederal match for the grants thus providing the opportunity for non-federal partners to play a major role in helping these projects become reality, Clough said.

The refuges that will receive this funding include the Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama; Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge in Florida; Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana, and North Carolina's Pee Dee and Mattamuskeet National Wildlife refuges. Projects to be funded include:

At Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge, the $7,500 Foundation grant will complete essential habitat restoration and erosion control measures in the recharge area for Key Cave, a cave located in northwest Alabama. Key Cave supports the only known population of the endangered Alabama cavefish, one of the rarest of all freshwater fish. Approximately 100 acres immediately surrounding sink holes that lead directly into the caves' recharge areas will be planted with native grasses and hardwoods to help stabilize the area. Another cave, Collier Cave, is also a part of this aquifer system and will benefit from the project thus providing potential additional habitat for the species. Partnership in this project involves The Conservation Fund, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Service and the Foundation. Completion of this project is critical to help ensure the conservation of the Alabama cavefish.

Florida's Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge received a $7,000 grant for a project involving the removal of exotic vegetation, including Australian pine and Brazilian pepper from the refuge, a 400-acre island located at the mouth of Tampa Bay. Management and control of the exotic species will allow native plants to become reestablished on the refuge thus providing natural habitat for a diversity of wildlife species. Partners involved in this project include the U.S. Coast Guard, the Egmont Key Alliance, an active citizens support group with more than 200 volunteers, and the Florida Park Service.

A $24,000 grant will enable Louisiana's Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge to address a number of serious conservation needs on this new refuge. Specifically, it involves restoring approximately 40 acres of cropland to native wetland and creating a demonstration and educational arboretum on 10 acres of the site. It also includes the constructing and installing of nesting boxes for wood ducks and prothonotary warblers on a site where recent timbering activities eradicated nesting habitat on refuge lands, the removing of old duck blinds on the refuge that could cause public safety problems, and the conducting of various activities to enhance environmental educational activities on this new urban refuge such as the creation of an interpretive boardwalk and fishing pier. The outpouring of interest and support on behalf of local citizens and industries has been tremendous, Clough said, and the Service commends the City of Monroe, landowners Johnston, Kennedy & Woods, the International Paper Company and the State of Louisiana for their support in this project.

At Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina, the project involves a partnership between Ducks Unlimited, the Foundation and the Service to restore and rehabilitate 300 acres of refuge lands to improve habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds and those neotropical migratory birds that utilize this area of North Carolina during migration. Specifically the $10,000 grant along with partners' contributions will be used to undertake restoration efforts on wetland and moist-soils management sites, impoundable croplands, mudflat areas for shorebirds and bottomland hardwood forest regeneration.

North Carolina's Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge received a $15,000 grant to address a serious maintenance need that focuses on refurbishing two low-lift pumps with diesel power units to properly manage water levels on approximately 400 acres of agricultural habitat for migratory birds on the refuge. The project is considered critical to the accomplishment of refuge objectives to provide quality wintering habitat and quality food for wintering waterfowl especially before they begin their long migration north to their breeding grounds. Once the project is completed, the Service expects that more than 10,000 snow geese, 10,000 ducks, 1,000 Canada geese and at least 1,000 swans will continue to use the area. The Service, the Foundation and Ducks Unlimited have joined forces to complete this project.

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Release #R97-55


1997 News Releases

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