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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Comment Period Extension for Several Refuge Policies


May 31, 2001

Rachel Levin, 202/208-5634

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the public comment period for several draft policies that provide guidance on public recreation and educational activities and conserving wilderness on the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The draft policies, originally published in the Federal Register on January 16, 2001, largely complete the Service's development of an extensive body of policy necessary to implement the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, the system's first organic legislation, which was signed into law in 1997. The comment period has been re-opened in order to give State natural resource agencies and the public further opportunity to submit comments.

The public now has until June 14, to comment on the following draft policies:

  • The proposed General Recreation Policy which provides general guidance for managing recreational and educational uses on units of the refuge system.
  • Six draft policies, Hunting, Sport Fishing, Wildlife Watching, Wildlife Photography, Environmental Education, and Interpretation, which update and replace the Service's existing policy on recreation, providing specific guidance on the "priority public uses" given preference over all other uses in the Improvement Act.
  • The draft Appropriate Refuge Uses Policy, which spells out a process for evaluating uses other than those six priority uses on refuge lands.
  • The draft Wilderness Stewardship Policy updates existing wilderness management guidance and reconfirms the Service's commitment to managing wilderness to accomplish the purposes of the refuge. This draft policy spells out how wilderness will be handled during the preparation of Comprehensive Conservation Plans, and the proper management of the priority public uses in wilderness areas, among other items.
  • The draft Mission, Goals, and Purposes policy clarifies the interaction between the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the goals of the refuge system, and the purposes for which each refuge was established.
  • The statement in the Federal Register Notice announcing the re-opening of the public comment period regarding resubmission of comments received between April 19 and before May 15, 2001 is in error. Comments received during this period will be accepted as is, and do not have to be resubmitted in order to be considered.
Full text of the proposed policies can be found on the Internet at http://refuges.fws.gov/manual/draft.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 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 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.

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.

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

2001 News Releases

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