Conduct scoping and public meetings
Prepare draft environmental assessment (EA) and plan
Release draft EA and plan for public review
Complete environmental review and final plan
We are proposing to establish a conservation area along the Laramie and Little Laramie Rivers near the Hutton Lake and Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuges in southeastern Wyoming.
We would work with private landowners to conserve Wyoming toad habitat and the working landscape of the area. Land protection, with primarily conservation easements, would help maintain important wildlife habitat.
The project area is part of the high plains basin ecosystem known as the Laramie Basin. Shallow depressions in the flat landscape support marshes and lakes unique to the area. Radiating out from the wetlands are alkali flats, shrublands, native shortgrass prairies, manipulated meadows, and scattered trees.
The only wild population of the endangered Wyoming toad is at Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Most of the remaining toads, about 500, are in captivity. Recovery requires reintroduction of the toad on Federal lands within its historical range, which the proposed expansion includes. More quality habitat protected for the Wyoming toad would significantly help the recovery of this species.
Large expanses of grassland and shrubland are necessary for other species needing conservation such as burrowing owl, loggerhead shrike, and swift fox. In this semiarid environment, the basin’s wetlands provide a wildlife oasis. Migrating waterfowl and shorebirds head for these areas to rest and refuel. Sandhill cranes, black terns, and other birds nest there.
The proposed project would be part of the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Two comprehensive conservation plans describe management of Arapaho Refuge and Hutton Lake and Mortenson Lake Refuges.
As a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and the Service, a conservation easement is a perpetual agreement that we would buy from a willing landowner. Easement prices offered to willing sellers would be determined by an appraisal completed by a Service-contracted appraiser familiar with the local market.
Conservation easement contracts would specify perpetual protection of habitat for trust species. There would be limits on residential, industrial, or commercial development. Contracts would prohibit altering the natural topography, converting native grassland to cropland, and draining or filling wetlands.
Easement land would stay in private ownership. Property taxes and invasive plant control would be the responsibility of landowners, who would continue to control public access to their lands. Contracts would not restrict grazing on easement lands.
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You can contact us by comment form, email, postal mail, telephone, or fax (refer to "Contacts" below).
Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information, you should be aware that your comments- including your personal identifying information -may be made available to the public at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold such information, we cannot guarantee that we can do so in accordance to the Freedom of Information Act.
December 4, 2014 5:30-7:30
Albany County Fairgrounds
3520 U.S. Highway 287
Laramie, WY 82051
The Public Comment Period is open from November 20, 2014 through January 5, 2015.
Planning team leader
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Refuge Planning
134 Union Boulevard, Suite 300
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
303 / 236 4345 telephone
303 / 236 4792 fax
Project email: email@example.com
Refuge complex email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Land protection plan (LPP)
Draft Environmental Assessment and Land Protection Plan (24 MB PDF)