|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
FORT NIOBRARA/ VALENTINE
CONTACT: Bernie Petersen or Kathy McPeak 402-376-3789
FORT NIOBRARA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE COMPLETES RIVER RECREATION MANAGEMENT PLAN
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today announced completion of the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge River Recreation Management Plan for that portion of the National Wild and Scenic River that flows within Refuge boundaries near Valentine, Nebraska.
The need for a comprehensive river management plan was identified in the Fort Niobrara Comprehensive Management Plan of 1999. Since that time, the Service has worked with cooperating agencies and researchers to develop scientific data for use in the development of the plan. The River Recreation Management Plan provides for recreational use on the River; is compatible with the purposes for which the Refuge was established and with National Wildlife Refuge System goals and policies; and, complies with other federal laws including The Wilderness Act and The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. In addition, the river plan protects the natural resources of the Refuge and preserves the wilderness character of the Fort Niobrara Wilderness Area adjacent to the River. The plan also promotes public understanding of and appreciation for Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge’s wildlife and recreational values.
“We thank all those who participated in the planning process, assisted the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in identifying concerns, and presented options for management of river recreational use of the Niobrara River on the Refuge,” said Royce Huber, Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge Complex Manager. “Public participation made this a better plan and many of these recommendations were incorporated into the final plan.”
The River Recreation Management Plan is available to the public at the following locations: the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge Complex Office, Valentine, NE; on the internet at http://fortniobrara.fws.gov/riverea and at the Sawyer memorial Library in Valentine.
On Wednesday, February 16, 2005, the Refuge will be holding an informational meeting for all businesses and individuals interested in providing commercial outfitting services on the Refuge at the Fort Niobrara NWR Visitor Center from 7:00 - 9:00 P.M. (CST). Requirements for all commercial outfitters, who desire to provide river floating services to Refuge visitors in 2005, will be discussed at that time. Refuge staff will also be available to answer questions.
Applications for providing commercial outfitting on the Refuge and Launch Pass Bid forms can be obtained at the Fort Niobrara NWR Visitor Center. Parties desiring to provide commercial outfitting services on the Refuge must complete both forms and return them to Fort Niobrara NWR no later than 4:00 p.m. (CST) February 24, 2005. Sealed bids received by the deadline will be opened February 28, 2005 at 7:00 P.M. (CST) at a public meeting to be held at the Refuge Visitor Center. Refuge river launch passes will then be allocated based upon the high bid received as described in the River Recreation Management Plan.
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 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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