Comprehensive Conservation Planning

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The purpose of a CCP is to specify a management direction for the Refuge for the next 15 years. The goals, objectives, and strategies for improving Refuge conditions—including the types of habitat we will provide, partnership opportunities, and management actions needed to achieve desired conditions – are described in the CCP. The Service’s preferred alternative for managing the Refuge and its effects on the human environment, are described in the CCP as well.


What is a Comprehensive Conservation Plan?
A comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) describes the desired future conditions of a refuge or planning unit; provides long-range guidance and management direction to achieve the purposes of the refuge; helps fulfill the mission of the Refuge System; maintains and, where appropriate, restores the ecological integrity of each refuge and the Refuge System; helps achieve the goals of the National Wilderness Preservation System; and meets other mandates. The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (Pub. L. 105–57) mandates that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service write CCPs for all national wildlife refuges and reevaluate them every 15 years or as needed. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) mandates that we develop either an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement in the CCP. This planning process provides a unique opportunity for the Service to involve individuals and local communities in the long-term management of refuges.

How Does the Process Work?
There are five basic steps in the CCP process:

  1. Scoping Phase. Refuges hold open houses and distribute surveys to the public to help identify all possible concerns and issues regarding the refuge. At this time, refuge employees collect data on such things as fish and wildlife resources, wildlife oriented recreation, or visitor services, needs and costs.
  2. Formulate Plan. Refuge staff outline key issues and concerns, as well as long-term goals for the refuge. Next, they analyze alternative ways to protect fish and wildlife, resolve concerns and meet goals. 
  3. Write Draft Plan. The draft plan identifies management alternatives and examines the effects each would have on wildlife and habitat, visitation and public use, and refuge acquisition and expansion. Once the draft plan is written it is distributed within the Fish and Wildlife Service for internal review. Then, the draft is distributed to the public for review.
  4. Revise Plan. After hearing from the public, refuge employees analyze the comments, revise the plan and issue the final CCP.
  5. Implement, monitor, and evaluate plan.

Click here to view the CCP for Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee NWR.