Branch of Conservation Planning
Midwest Region

Where Are We in the Plan?

These are the steps that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service follows in comprehensive conservation planning; the step that Big Oaks NWR has reached is highlighted:

  1. Preplanning: Plan the Plan
  2. Initiate Public Involvement and Scoping
  3. Review Vision Statement and Goals and Determine Significant Issues
  4. Develop and Analyze Alternatives, Including the Proposed Action
  5. Prepare a Draft CCP and NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) Document
  6. Prepare and Adopt Final CCP
  7. Implement Plan, Monitor and Evaluate
  8. Review and Revise the Plan

Big Oaks NWR Comprehensive Conservation PlanPhotograph shows big oak at Refuge. Photo credit: USFWS

Comprehsensive Conservation Planning Begins
Activity so Far
Next Steps
The Refuge
For More Information

Comprehensive Conservation Planning Begins

The staff at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR, refuge) have begun work on a comprehensive conservation plan, or CCP, for the refuge. The CCP establishes a management "blueprint" for the next 15 years. Goals, objectives, and strategies developed for the plan will ensure that the refuge fulfills its establishment purposes and that its management is consistent with the policies and mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

It typically takes two to three years to complete a CCP. The steps followed in comprehensive conservation planning are shown in the box on the right.  Public participation will be an essential part of this planning process.

The Notice of Intent (pdf, 199 KB) to prepare a CCP for Big Oaks NWR was published in the Federal Register on January 17, 2013. To view a pdf you need Acrobat Reader software, which is available as a free download from the Adobe website.

Activity so Far

Refuge and regional office staff have begun gathering information and resources for the planning process.  A preliminary, internal meeting was held at Big Oaks NWR to kick off the planning process during the last week of February.  The official public scoping period ran from March 25 through April 26, 2013, during which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) solicited input from partners, stakeholders, and others interested in the future of refuge management.  Twenty people attended the three open houses hosted by refuge staff on April 8th, 9th, and 10th, and eleven individual comment submissions were received expressing general support for the Refuge, a desire for additional recreation opportunities and more historical interpretation, recommendations for a new headquarters and visitor center, and renewed support for efforts to conserve vulnerable species and priority habitats.  Although the formal public scoping period has ended, the refuge welcomes comment submissions throughout the planning process.  See below for the Big Oaks CCP contact information.

An internal scoping meeting was held at the Midwest Regional Office on May 21st, 2013, during which all divisions of the Service and leadership within the Division of Refuges had the opportunity to express issues and provide comments for the future management of the refuge.

Next Steps

The planning team will continue gathering information and resources over the coming months and will engage Service partners in a planning workshop this summer.  The planning team will use all of the input gathered during scoping to develop a range of alternatives for the future management of the refuge. 

An environmental assessment will be developed to evaluate how well each alternative addresses management issues, and a preferred alternative will be identified by the Service.  The environmental assessment will be accompanied by a draft CCP based on the preferred alternative, and the combined document will be released and distributed for public review and comment.  Thereafter, a final CCP will be created, approved, and used to guide the future management of Big Oaks NWR.

The Refuge

Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, established in 2000 as an overlay refuge on the former Jefferson Proving Ground in southeastern Indiana, encompasses approximately 51,000 acres of forest, shrubland, grassland, and wetland habitats in a post-glacial landscape.  The Indiana Air National Guard operates the 1033-acre Jefferson Range, which is located near the center of former proving ground, not designated as part of the refuge.  The refuge contains a 4,000-acre public use area that provides opportunities for fishing, hunting, wildlife observation and photography, environmental education, and hiking.  More information can be found on the refuge website:

For More Information

More information on the Big Oaks NWR comprehensive conservation planning effort is available by emailing, calling, or writing the refuge or the Midwest Region Division of Conservation Planning.

Midwest Region Planning Office

Phone: 612-713-5429

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Division of Conservation Planning
Attention: Big Oaks NWR CCP
5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990
Bloomington, MN 55437-1458

Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge

Phone: 812-273-0783

Refuge Manager
Big Oaks NWR
Attention: CCP Comment
1661 West JPG Niblo Road
Madison, Indiana 47250

People with hearing impairments are invited to use the Federal Information Relay System: 1-800-877-8339

Last updated: June 3, 2016
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