FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 23, 2000
Tom MacKenzie, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (404) 679-7291
The future management of the Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge and the Sunk Lake Public Use Natural Area will be the topic of public discussion at a meeting scheduled to be held October 26, 2000, at 7 p.m. in the Community Conference Room of the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Covington, Tennessee. Baptist Memorial Hospital is located at 1995 Highway
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to discuss their ideas and opinions about a proposed comprehensive conservation plan for the refuge and the natural area," said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. "The proposed plan is designed to guide the management of these facilities over the next 15 years."
Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge is located adjacent to the confluence of the Hatchie and Mississippi Rivers in west Tennessee, and encompasses the bulk of the remaining bottomland hardwood forests along the banks of the lower 17 miles of the Hatchie River. The Refuge's 7,727 acres includes lakes, croplands, grasslands, moist soils, upland forests, and bottomland hardwood forests. Nearby, Sunk Lake Public Use Natural Area contains 1,933 acres of open water, cypress swamps, and bottomland hardwoods and was established to protect what remains of these diminishing habitats. Both areas are home to hundreds of wildlife species, including bald and golden eagles, Mississippi kites, wild turkey, neotropical songbirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds, as well as numerous species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, birds, and insects.
The refuge and the natural area are open year-round from sunrise to sunset for wildlife-related activities such as wildlife observation, biking, nature photography, and hiking, except for certain areas which are closed during the winter months as waterfowl sanctuaries. Public use facilities include trails and boat ramps. Hunting and fishing opportunities are permitted on portions of the refuge and natural area, according to specific refuge and natural area seasons and regulations. As required by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, wildlife resources must be given first priority with recreational uses available to the public as long as these activities are compatible with the mission of the Service and the purpose for which the refuge was established.
The doors to the Community Conference Room will open at 6:45 p.m. At 7 p.m., the Service will begin the meeting with a 45-minute open house during which refuge staff will be on hand to discuss the Refuge and the planning process. Following the open house, a 20-minute presentation will be given to describe the comprehensive planning process designed to guide the management of the refuge for the next 15 years. Following the presentation , the Service will invite the public to ask questions and provide comments about issues they believe should be addressed in the plan.
Members of the public who are unable to attend the meeting can mail comments or request to be placed on the mailing list by writing to Rob Martin, Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 309 North Church Street, Room 201, Dyersburg, Tennessee 38024, by phone at (901) 287-0650, or by fax at (901) 286-0468. (Federal government mailing lists must be released to the public upon request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act of 1974).
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, 64 fish and wildlife management offices, 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.
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Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286