Created in 1965 in northwestern Colorado near the Utah border to protect wildlife habitat along the Green River, Browns Park NWR oversees riverbottom wetlands, provides critical habitat for wintering mule deer, elk and pronghorn antelope and is popular with anglers, wildlife watchers, hunters, and campers. Three historic sites also fall under the refuge's control: the Lodore School, a national landmark; the ruins of Fort Davy Crockett, an 1830s-vintage fur trading post; and the Two Bar Ranch, which at one time controlled nearly 5 million acres of grazing land.
The "comprehensive management plan" now being drafted involves a complete review of the goals, objectives, and management strategies formerly undertaken on the 13,500-acre Browns Park Refuge. The resulting document is an all-encompassing management plan that clearly outlines the desired future condition of the refuge. It provides refuge visitors with a clear understanding of the reasons for management actions on the refuge. In addition, it addresses refuge development and funding needs.
The management of each of the more than 500 wildlife refuges overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is specific to each site, but the end result is the same for all refuges -- restoration and management of refuge lands for the conservation of wildlife and their habitats. Since 1903, when President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida's Pelican Island as the nation's first wildlife refuge, more than 92 million acres throughout the country have been set aside as wildlife refuges.
The current review, and in some cases, creation, of comprehensive management plans was directed by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
At Browns Park, public comment is being sought on how the refuge manages wildlife habitat, recreation, and historical sites. The first open house is scheduled for June 6 in Craig at the Moffatt County Library from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The second will be June 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the refuge headquarters in Browns Park.
A second round of open houses will be scheduled at a later date for public review of a draft management plan.
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