Opening of Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge Delayed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge is delaying its planned opening to the public due to ongoing unexploded ordnance investigations. The refuge had planned to open about one-third of its acreage to the public October 1, 2004 for hunting and wildlife observation and other compatible public uses (3,300 acres of the 9,016 acre refuge).
Based upon information received regarding irregularities in unexploded ordnance disposal by a U.S. Army contractor, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management's (ADEM) issued an administrative order halting all investigations and recovery activities of unexploded ordnance and other munitions and explosives of concern on the portion of the former Fort McClellan now under ownership of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Investigations conducted to date documented these irregularities, and further investigations will be conducted to determine if this was an isolated incident.
"We will open the refuge the public as soon as it is safe to do so," said Steve Miller, Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge Manager. "Over the course of the next few days and weeks we will monitor the outcome of the additional investigations to ensure that further irregularities in ordnance disposal did not occur, and also review the U.S. Army the Land Use Controls currently in place that prevent inadvertent access to contaminated areas."
Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge was established May 29, 2003 on what was formerly U.S. Army owned property at Fort McClellan. A large percentage of the 9,016 acre refuge was used as a firing range and has been closed to public access for a number of years. The U.S. Army remains responsible for all contamination and environmental remediation on refuge lands. For more information about Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge, please visit: http://southeast.fws.gov/mountainlongleaf
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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses nearly 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 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.
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Atlanta, GA 30345