For Immediate Release
July 15,1998

Contact: Diana M. Hawkins
404-679-7287
or Tom MacKenzie
404-679-7291

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE MOVES TO EXPAND
SAVANNAH NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced plans to move ahead on its proposal to expand Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Georgia and South Carolina.

The Service has completed a final environmental assessment and land protection plan that recommends the acquisition of up to 14,800 acres of wetland and upland forests in Chatham and Effingham Counties, Georgia, and Jasper County, South Carolina. The plan to expand the refuge was approved on

June 5, 1998, by Regional Director Sam D. Hamilton, of the Service=s Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta, Georgia.

"The project lands offer an outstanding diversity of wetland and upland habitats for the benefit of wintering waterfowl, neotropical migratory birds, wading birds, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and many other species of resident wildlife," said Hamilton. "If acquired, these lands would be protected and managed as part of Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and would increase the total size of the refuge to approximately 40,110 acres."

The expansion areas are being proposed for acquisition through a combination of fee title purchases from willing sellers and cooperative agreements or conservation easements from willing landowners. About 11,870 acres or 80 percent of the proposed refuge additions are located west of the Savannah River along the refuge's current western boundary in Chatham and Effingham counties, Georgia. The remaining proposed expansion lands lie adjacent to the refuge's eastern and southern boundaries in Jasper County, South Carolina.

Copies of the final environmental assessment and land protection plan are now available to the public and can be obtained by writing to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Realty, 1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, Georgia 30345; or to Mr. Sam Drake, Refuge Manager, Savannah Coastal Refuges, 1000 Business Center Drive, Parkway Business Center - Suite 10, Savannah, Georgia 31405.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service's 94 million acres include 514 national wildlife refuges, 78 ecological services field stations, 65 national fish hatcheries, 50 wildlife coordination areas, and 38 wetland management districts with waterfowl production areas.

The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, administers the Endangered Species Act, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes Federal excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies. This program is a cornerstone of the Nation's wildlife management efforts, funding fish and wildlife restoration, boating access, hunter education, shooting ranges, and related projects across America.

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Release #: R98-059


1998 News Releases

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