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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228


August 8, 2003
Contact: Larry Martin, (605) 947-4521

McCarlson Waterfowl Production Area Celebrates Role
as Nation’s First WPA and Conservation Model

Federal, State, and local officials and other guests will participate in an event on Saturday, August 23, at 10:30am, officially dedicating McCarlson Waterfowl Production Area, commemorating McCarlson’s 44-year history and highlighting the importance of wildlife habitat conservation.

The dedication is an important part of the celebrations taking place during 2003 to mark the National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial and will also acknowledge the significance of the Prairie Pothole Region, a land of wetlands, waterfowl, and recreation, to bird conservation in the state of South Dakota and the nation. McCarlson WPA was the first land in the United States set aside for waterfowl production and conservation in 1959 and is now considered a model for future wildlife and habitat conservation.

What: McCarlson WPA will be officially dedicated as the nation’s first WPA and celebrated for its significance to wildlife and habitat conservation.

When: Saturday, August 23, 2003 at 10:30am, followed by a luncheon at 12:30pm.

Where: Please park at the Izaak Walton League building in Webster, SD located on Highway 12 near the western edge of town. Bus transportation to the McCarlson WPA dedication site will be provided (20 minute ride). Buses will depart from the Izaak Walton League at 9:45 and 10 am. If you drive a personal vehicle to the site you will need to park in the Saron Church parking lot located 1 mile south of the dedication site. Transportation will be provided from the church parking lot to the dedication site. The dedication site is located 16 miles north of Webster, SD on Highway 25, and then 2 miles east on 129th St., then 1 mile north on gravel. The event will be followed by a luncheon at the Izaak Walton League building in Webster, SD.

In case of inclement weather the entire event will be held at the Izaak Walton League building in Webster.

Expected guests include representatives of the South Dakota Congressional delegation; the Honorable Dennis Daugaard, Lieutenant Governor; John Cooper, Secretary of South Dakota Fish, Game & Parks; and, Tom Melius, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Director of External Affairs.

"It is important to recognize unique programs like the WPAs," notes Ralph Morgenweck, Mountain-Prairie Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Conservation of our nation’s wildlife depends on partnerships and grassroots efforts such as the one that began in South Dakota with the establishment of WPAs. Waterfowl depend on these lands for habitat and breeding grounds."

Wetland Management Districts, which include WPAs and grassland and wetlands easements, make up 20 percent of the National Wildlife Refuge System lands in the lower 48 states. Wetland Management Districts allow for positive partnerships between public and private landowners by using conservation easements (grassland and wetland) to protect habitat. The future of conservation will likely rely heavily on partnerships between private landowners and public agencies.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, which includes WMDs, consists of over 95 million acres of lands set aside specifically for wildlife. There is a National Wildlife Refuge in each state and within a one hour drive from most major U.S. cities. These scenic places provide opportunities for wildlife observation, environmental education, hunting, fishing, and wildlife photography to the American people as well as refuges for wildlife.

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 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 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.

- FWS -

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