Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge to Open December 20th
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Fort McClellan, AL will open about one-third of its acreage to the public beginning December 20, 2004. Those 3,300 acres will be open for hunting, wildlife observation and other compatible public uses. The refuge will be open daylight hours only. Hunting on the refuge will occur in conjunction with the Choccolocco Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The only permit required to hunt on the refuge is the WMA permit. Additional information on hunting at the WMA can be found at http://www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/land/wildlife-areas/ .
The opening, which was previously scheduled for October 1, 2004, was delayed due to an investigation regarding improper disposal of unexploded ordnance by a U.S. Army contractor in areas outside of the public use area. In July, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (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. An investigation was initiated and subsequently documented irregularities in the disposal of recovered UXO items. Further surveys were conducted to ensure that this was an isolated incident.
“Based upon the results of the investigation, conducted jointly
by the U.S. Army, ADEM and the contractor, we believe that it is
now safe to open this portion of the refuge to the public,” said
Steve Miller, Mountain Longleaf NWR Manager. “We will continue
negotiations with the U.S. Army for clean-up of contaminated areas
of the refuge to provide additional areas for the public to safely
enjoy compatible activities in the future.”
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 545 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.