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Final Conservation Plan Released to Manage Louisiana's Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2004

Contacts:
Nicholas Throckmorton,
404/679-7291

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its final Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the 13,168-acre Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge, located in Concordia Parish in east-central Louisiana.

The refuge protects some of the last remaining and least disturbed bottomland hardwoods in the Mississippi River delta. It supports more than 150 bird species, including waterfowl, shorebirds, and neotropical songbirds, and the Louisiana black bear which is federally-listed as threatened.

Public comments on the Draft Plan are addressed in the final CCP. The plan is consistent with the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, which states that wildlife must have first priority in refuge management. Recreation and other uses can be provided as long as these uses are appropriate and compatible with wildlife conservation.

“Bayou Cocodrie will continue on its ‘wildlife first’ mission with neotropical migrant songbirds, thethreatened Louisiana black bear, and environmental education remaining high management priorities,” said Mike Esters, Refuge Manager. “We will also be working with private landowners to develop partnerships to enhance wildlife habitat outside of the refuge boundaries.”

Bayou Cocodrie‘s CCP provides a clear statement regarding the future management of the refuge over the next 15 years and ensures that the Refuge’s management actions are consistent with refuge purposes and the mandates of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge will be transformed into one of the finest examples of bottomland hardwood forest complexes, striving to protect the habitats of fish and wildlife, and creating new opportunities for visitors to enjoy its unique biological resources. Refuge management will:

  • Conduct comprehensive assessments of existing fish and wildlife resources;
  • Recruit and train staff and improve existing facilities;
  • Contribute to maintaining biological diversity within the Lower Mississippi Valley;
  • Manage habitats to reduce threats and problems (i.e., forest fragmentation, loss of old growth forests) associated with species of concern;
  • Assist in Louisiana black bear recovery efforts;
  • Define research within the old growth area and involve partners to accomplish the research;
  • Expand appropriate and compatible wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities.

According to John Simpson, Refuge Forester, forest management on Bayou Cocodriewill focus on maintaining and developing plant species diversity, developing a multi-layered forest canopy, improving forest health, and increasing mast production for both hard and soft mast species.

The Plan also provides increased opportunities for public use that are appropriate and compatible with the ‘wildlife first’ mandate. In the future, visitor services at the headquarters area will include an exhibit area, an auditorium for interpretive and educational programming, a classroom space for school field trips, and an observation platform. A boardwalk will be constructed leading to the edge of the old growth/research natural area and a canoe trail will be developed which will also offer two or three designated stops along its route for visitors to walk a short distance into the forest. Hunting and fishing accessibility and opportunity will also be increased. The environmental education program will be developed to focus on the Lower Mississippi Valley ecosystem.

For a free copy of the plan, please contact Mike Esters, Refuge Manager, Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 1772, Ferriday, Louisiana, 71334, or telephone 318/336-7119.These documents can also be viewed or downloaded from the following website address: http://southeast.fws.gov/planning/index.htm.

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 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and wildlife management offices and 81 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 Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.

 


For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://southeast.fws.gov/ or http://www.fws.gov/.



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