Major Cleanup of Alabama’s Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Underway
Contacts: Jim Rothschild, 404/679-7299
Cleanup of more than 174 acres of wildlife habitat has begun on the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores, Alabama following last September’s Hurricane Ivan.
The contract of more than 2.5 million dollars was awarded to Three Dueces, Inc., a contractor from Pearl River, Louisiana.
“We’re excited that the cleanup is progressing, said Robert Cail, refuge manager. Our contractor started removing debris on July 25, and hopefully some of the refuge trails will be open to the public in time for bird migration in the fall.”
All refuge property is currently closed except for the beach and its
access points at Mobile Street and Fort Morgan. Visitors may use the
beach area less than 100 feet from active surf for sun bathing and viewing
wildlife. It is particularly important to remain within the beach area
because of the increase of dump trucks and other heavy equipment at the
refuge. Restricting the available beach area also reduces foot traffic
in dunes which are recovering naturally.
A public reopening ceremony will be scheduled when the refuge is cleared of debris.
According to Cail, as part of the contract Three Dueces, Inc., will recycle more than 75 percent of the construction debris, thus reducing the environmental impacts.
The work at Bon Secour is part of a comprehensive $35 million cleanup of hurricane damage to National Wildlife Refuges in several southeastern states and Puerto Rico. The Southeast was particularly hard hit by an unprecedented series of four major hurricanes that tore through the region in the summer of 2004. The funds were appropriated by an emergency spending bill supported by all members of the Alabama congressional delegation.
Established in 1980, the 6,816-acre Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge hosts more than 100,000 visitors annually. The endangered Alabama beach mouse is found there, along with nesting green and loggerhead sea turtles. The refuge is also an important stop for many species of neotropical migratory birds. Visitors enjoy fresh and salt water fishing and bird and wildlife observation.
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, 64 fishery resources 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 and Native American tribal 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.
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