Hurricane Rita Slams U.S. Fish and Wildlife Facilities in Southwest Louisiana
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A 30-person Fish and Wildlife Service response team is providing immediate recovery for the affected refuges, employees and the surrounding communities with storm recovery efforts from tarping roofs to opening up roads and driveways for emergency and personal access to homes and facilities in Cameron Parish, La., and the City of Hackberry, La.
Impact on wildlife is widespread along the coastal areas with significant fish loss due to salt water storm surge and loss of land-based wildlife due to flooding and wind-related impacts.
Facilities damage summary:
Additional stations (listed below) experienced Rita’s high winds, power outages, downed timber, and localized flooding due to intense rainfall.
Atchafalya NWR, La.; Bayou Cocodrie NWR, Ferriday, La.; Catahoula NWR, Rhinehart, La.; Cat Island NWR, Marksville, La.; Dahomey NWR, Boyle, Miss.; D’Arbonne NWR, Farmerville, La.; Felsenthal NWR, Crossett, Ark.; Grand Cote, NWR, Marksville, La.; Lafayette Ecological Services Field Office, La.; Lake Charles Office of Law Enforcement Office, La.; Lake Ophelia NWR, Marksville, La.; Overflow NWR, Parkdale, Ark.; Pond Creek NWR, Lockesburg, Ark.; Red River NWR, Farmerville, La.; Shell Keys NWR, Lacombe, La.; St. Catherine Creek NWR, Sibley, Miss; Tensas River NWR, Tallulah, La.; Upper Oachita NWR, Farmerville, La: and White River NWR, St. Charles, Ark. These refuges are all open to public use.
One month after Hurricane Katrina, four national wildlife refuges remain closed to public use in southeast Louisiana including Big Branch Marsh NWR in Lacomb; Bayou Sauvage NWR in New Orleans; Breton NWR in the Gulf of Mexico; and Delta NWR in Venice. Bon Secour NWR in Gulf Shores, Alabama, has been closed to public access since Hurricane Ivan last fall.
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 fishery resource 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 Aid program that 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://www.fws.gov/southeast or http://www.fws.gov/.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://www.fws.gov/southeast. Our national home page is at: http://www.fws.gov/news/newsreleases/, Atlanta, GA 30345, phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286