FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2001
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is continuing its planning efforts to protect additional fish and wildlife habitat by expanding the boundaries of the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Southwest Florida. The Complex consists of five national wildlife refuges in Lee and Charlotte Counties, Florida: Pine Island, Matlacha Pass, Island Bay, Caloosahatchee, and J.N. "Ding" Darling.
The initial study areas for the proposed expansion were identified and discussed during the first round of public meetings held in May 2001. Public comments from these meetings helped lead to the development of both a revised study area and a draft environmental assessment. However, the exact boundaries for the proposed expansion have not yet been finalized. They will be determined during the preparation of the final environmental assessment. Public involvement remains an important element in this ongoing planning effort. To continue the process, the Service will release the draft environmental assessment, including maps, on its website on or about November 27. The website is http://planning.southeast.fws.gov.
(Click on "Public Involvement and Comments"). Hard copies of the draft environmental assessment will also be mailed to interested citizens and made available as handouts at three upcoming public meetings that the Service will host in Southwest Florida. Each meeting will include approximately 30 minutes of information, followed by two hours of public participation where citizens and the interested public will be encouraged to ask questions and offer comments.
The public is invited to attend any or all of these meetings, which will be held at the following times and locations:
December 5, 2001 - 7:00 p.m.
December 6, 2001 - 9:30 a.m.
December 6, 2001 - 7:00 p.m.Registration will begin approximately 30 minutes before the start of each meeting.
Questions regarding the public meetings should be referred to Ms. Susan Trokey, J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, at 941-472-1100 ext. 224. Those interested in receiving hard copies of the draft environmental assessment should write to Mr. Charles R. Danner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Refuges, 1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, Georgia 30345, or call 1-800-419-9582.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System that encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource 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.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.
Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286