Frequently Asked Questions
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How would the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge be expanded?
If the expansion to the acquisition boundary is approved, the Service would work only with willing landowners to acquire an interest in the land through several methods, including fee simple purchases, conservation easements, leases, lands set aside through habitat conservation plans, and/or cooperative agreements. All lands and waters acquired would be managed by the Service as part of the Grand Bay NWR.
What is an acquisition boundary?
An acquisition boundary is the area within which the Service is authorized to negotiate with landowners willing to sell interest in their properties. Acquisition boundaries for refuges are typically approved by the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The U.S. Congress may also approve them if specific legislation is involved.
The boundary itself does not give the Service any special jurisdiction or control over these lands. Lands become part of the National Wildlife Refuge System when they are purchased from willing sellers. Landowners who choose not to sell continue to manage and use their lands as before.
The Service is proposing to expand the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge acquisition boundary by 8,166 acres.
To date, the Service has purchased a total of 10,216 acres within the currently approved acquisition boundary of 17,742 acres.
What if my land is within the approved acquisition boundary and I do not want to sell?
You maintain every right to your land, including the right to sell your land to whomever you choose. It is the policy of the Service to purchase lands only from willing sellers. An approved acquisition boundary does not require you to sell your property to the Service.
If the refuge is expanded, will I be able to hunt, fish, hike and bird watch on lands acquired?
Most likely. The Service gives priority consideration to six wildlife-dependent public uses on national wildlife refuges: hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education and interpretation. If these uses are determined to be compatible with the refuge purposes, and funds are available to manage them, they would be allowed.
How would tax revenues be affected if lands become part of the National Wildlife Refuge System?
Lands acquired by the Service are removed from the tax rolls. However, through the Refuge Revenue Sharing Act (Public Law 95-469), the Service offsets the tax losses by annually paying county and other local governments an amount that often equals or exceeds that which would have been collected from taxes if the land was in private ownership. This law requires that the revenue sharing payments to the counties for the Service’s land will be based on the greatest of:
- ¾ of 1 percent of the market value;
- 25 percent of the net receipts; or
- 75 cents per acre.
Funding for the payments comes from income generated on national wildlife refuges. If there is not enough revenue, Congress is authorized to appropriate money to make up the difference. Service lands are reappraised every five years to ensure that payments to local governments remain equitable. On lands where the Service acquires only partial interest through easements, all taxes would remain the responsibility of the individual landowner.
How would the Service acquire funds to purchase additional refuge land?
It is anticipated that funding for this project would be provided through the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund (MBCF) and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The MBCF includes monies collected from the sale of Federal Duck stamps, entrance fees from certain national wildlife refuges, and import duties on arms and ammunition. The authority for the use of these funds for land acquisition is the Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
The LWCF includes monies collected from the sale of offshore oil leases. It is the principal source of funding for land acquisition for the purpose of outdoor recreation by the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service. Congress typically identifies which lands are to be purchased with the funds it provides.