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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced plans to move ahead on its proposal to expand Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge in east central Louisiana.

The Service has completed a final environmental assessment and land protection plan that recommends the acquisition of up to 20,600 acres of converted wetlands, bottomland hardwoods, and wooded/shrub swamps as additions to the refuge. The proposed lands would be protected and managed for the benefit of many species of fish and wildlife, especially migratory waterfowl, and would increase the size of the refuge to approximately 27,145 acres.

The plan to expand the refuge was approved on November 30, 1999, by Regional Director Sam D. Hamilton of the Service's Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta, Georgia.

"The expansion of Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge will be a positive step in protecting a tremendous diversity of fish and wildlife habitats in the Lower Mississippi River Valley," said Hamilton. "The project is being made possible through the cooperation and support of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, The Conservation Fund, and local landowners and citizens."

The project lands are located in the Bushley Bayou area in Catahoula and LaSalle Parishes, Louisiana, about two miles northeast of the refuge. They will be purchased from willing sellers, in accordance with the Service's policy for all proposed refuge expansions. One such willing seller has offered to sell 18,000 acres to support the expansion project.

The Bushley Bayou area provides excellent habitat for many species of waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds, as well as white-tailed deer and other mammals. Public hunting is expected to be allowed on the expansion lands. The area's fishery is also excellent, with Dempsey Lake, Sandy Lake, and Bushley Bayou providing good sportfishing for largemouth bass, crappie, bream, and catfish.

Copies of the final environmental assessment and land protection plan for the project are now available to the public and can be obtained by writing to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Realty, 1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, Georgia 30345 (telephone 1-800-419-9582) or to Eric Sipco, Refuge Manager, Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Drawer Z, Rhinehart, Louisiana 71363-0201.

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 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices and 78 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 wildlife agencies.

Release #: R00-001

2000 News Releases


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