U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
April 15, 2010
Contact: Vic Elam, (620) 392-5553, ext. 102
Amy Thornburg (303) 236-4345
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETINGS
FOR PROPOSED CONSERVATION EASEMENT PROGRAM IN FLINT HILLS
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today issued the draft Environmental Assessment and accompanying Land Protection Plan for the Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area. The EA and LPP outline the actions necessary to establish the area, and analyze the potential impacts of a conservation easement program in the Flint Hills. The outcome of the assessment will be to determine whether the Service should proceed with the establishment of the proposed Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area.
The purpose of the Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area project is to conserve important tallgrass habitat for fish and wildlife resources through the acquisition of conservation easements from willing sellers on up to 1.1 million acres in the Flint Hills region. The Service has been working with county commissioners, the State of Kansas, conservation organizations, landowners, and other individuals to collect additional information about the project area, wildlife and wildlife habitat, and the potential impacts of a conservation easement program.
The Service will host a series of open houses to provide information about and receive public comment on the Service’s proposed project, and the EA and LPP. These meetings will give the public the opportunity to learn more about the draft environmental assessment and land protection plan developed for the project, and to provide input as part of the 30-day review period comment.
Service staff will share information, answer questions and take public comments about the draft EA, LPP, and easement program at the following open house meetings April 21 – 23, 2010:
- El Dorado Train Depot (430 North Main), El Dorado: April 21 from 5:30 – 8:30 PM
- Cottonwood Falls Comm. Ctr. (Swope Park), Cottonwood Falls: April 22, from 5:30 – 8:30 PM
- Alma Community Center (244 E. 11th), Alma: April 23, from 5:30 – 8:30 PM
Over the past 10 years, efforts by a number of organizations and private landowners led to the conservation of some of the last remaining expanse of tallgrass prairie left in North America. Using a variety of conservation agreements, The Nature Conservancy, Ranchland Trust of Kansas, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grassland Reserve Program and Farm and Ranchland Protection Programs, Tallgrass Legacy Alliance and private landowners have worked cooperatively to conserve nearly 45,000 acres of tallgrass prairie and wildlife habitat in eastern Kansas. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conservation easements, in combination with easements acquired by partner organizations, have previously proven to be effective tools for maintaining the rural character and agricultural land base vital to wildlife habitat conservation in other areas of the country.
The EA and LPP documents are available for review and comment on the Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge website (http://flinthills.fws.gov), or at the regional planning website (http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/planning/). Written comments concerning the EA/LPP are welcome and should be submitted to the email or mailing addresses indicated above by May 15, 2010.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.