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September 26, 2000


Tom MacKenzie, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (404) 679-7291

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the expansion of the acquisition boundaries of the Chickasaw and Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuges in western Tennessee by up to 43,532 acres. The Service is now authorized to purchase property or conservation easements from willing sellers at fair market value, and can accept donations within the expanded acquisition boundaries of the two refuges.

"Expanding these two refuges will give a strong boost to our efforts to
conserve wildlife in western Tennessee, and will expand opportunities for public outdoor recreation and educational programs at the same time," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Regional Director, Sam Hamilton.

"This demonstrates that the Service is making every effort to do its part to help conservation interests in Tennessee meet the important habitat needs of all migratory birds," said Gary T. Myers, Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. AWe are extremely pleased with their leadership and commitment to migratory bird programs not only in Tennessee but throughout the nation.@

"This represents the kind of partnership that benefits the community and the Lower Hatchie and Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuges at the same time," said U.S. Rep. John Tanner. "The partnership between local citizens and the refuges is emblematic of a commitment to the responsible stewardship of our fish and wildlife resources in which we can be proud."

The Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge is located in Ripley, about two hours drive northeast of Memphis. The refuge currently encompasses some 22,000 acres of mostly bottomland hardwood forest in the floodplain of the Mississippi River that is prime habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, and bald eagles. Each year, some 130,000 people take advantage of the refuge's recreational and educational opportunities for the public, such as hunting, fishing, birdwatching, and nature photography. The proposed 31,480-acre expansion to the refuge would add additional habitat along the Mississippi River, and complement and improve the refuge's efforts to provide habitat
for waterfowl.

Located along the Hatchie and Mississippi Rivers, the Lower Hatchie
National Wildlife Refuge is about an hour and a half northeast of Memphis. The 9,035-acre refuge includes a mix of bottomland and upland hardwood forests, oxbow lakes, and impoundments. The expanded acquisition boundary authorizes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to purchase an additional 12,052 acres along the banks of the Hatchie River for waterfowl, wading birds, and bald eagles.

The two refuges provide a haven for several federally listed species
including the threatened bald eagle, the endangered interior least tern,
and the endangered gray bat. Headquarters for both the Chickasaw and Lower Hatchie refuges are at the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Dyersburg, Tennessee.

For more information about these refuges, visit: http://southeast.fws.gov/ or http://publications.southeast.fws.gov//pubref.html.

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 which encompasses 525 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource 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 fish and wildlife agencies.

Atlanta, GA 30345

Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

2000 News Releases

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