For Immediate Release
May 20, 1999

Contact: Tom MacKenzie
404/679-7291

EXPANSION PROPOSED FOR CATAHOULA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a proposal to acquire up to 20,600 acres of converted wetlands, bottomland hardwoods, and wooded/shrub swamps for the expansion of Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge in east central Louisiana. "The proposed expansion would protect additional habitat for the benefit of many species of fish and wildlife," said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "It will also provide ideal opportunities for the public to enjoy a significantly expanded refuge."

The Service is seeking public comments on a draft environmental assessment and land protection plan for the proposed expansion that would increase the size of the refuge to approximately 27,145 acres. The assessment considers the biological, environmental, and socioeconomic effects of expanding the refuge. It also evaluates three alternatives for the protection of the project area and the potential environmental impacts.

The project lands are located in the Bushley Bayou area in Catahoula and LaSalle parishes, Louisiana, about two miles northeast of Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge. The lands will be purchased from willing sellers, as is the policy for all such expansions. One such willing seller has offered to sell about 18,000 acres to support this expansion effort. This area provides excellent habitat for many species of waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds, as well as white-tailed deer and other mammals. Hunting is expected to be allowed on the expansion lands. The fishery is also excellent, with Dempsey Lake, Sandy Lake, and Bushley Bayou providing good opportunities to fish for largemouth bass, crappie, bream, and catfish.

Copies of the draft environmental assessment and land protection plan are being made available for public review and comment through June 7, 1999. Requests for copies of the proposal and for further information on the project should be addressed to Mr. Charles Danner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 420, Atlanta, Georgia 30345 (telephone 1-800-419-9582) or to Mr. Eric Sipco, Refuge Manager, Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Drawer Z, Rhinehart, Louisiana 71363-0201.

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 manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

X X X

Release #:R99-46


1999 News Releases

Go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region Home Page