U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service | Southeast Region News Release
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Public Invited to Help Plan Future of Refuge


May 8, 2001

Ken Litzenberger, Refuge Manager, 352/493-0238
Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed a draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges. The public is invited to comment on the proposed management plan at a public meeting on June 5, 2001 at 7:00 p.m., at the Tommy Usher Center, Chiefland, Florida. The Center is located at 506 SW 4th Avenue (County Road 345). The proposed plan will guide the management of the refuges over the next fifteen years.

Lower Suwannee Refuge is located in Levy and Dixie Counties, Florida. This 53,000-acre refuge was established in 1979 to protect one of the largest remaining undeveloped estuaries in the country. The refuge encompasses 20 miles of habitat flanking both sides of the Suwannee River and more than 20 miles of pristine coastal marsh habitat. Lower Suwannee Refuge provides an important habitat for bald eagles, swallow-tailed kites, gopher tortoises, manatees, sea turtles, and migratory birds.

Cedar Keys Refuge is managed as part of the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Cedar Keys Refuge was established in 1929 as a refuge for wading birds and wildlife. Today, the refuge consists of 13 islands and more than 800 acres of pristine coastal barrier island habitat. Four of the islands are designated wilderness areas. Seahorse Key is home to one of the largest colonial wading bird rookeries in North Florida and contains one of Florida=s historic lighthouses, which is used for marine science education and research by the University of Florida.

The proposed plan will benefit migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, resident wildlife, and provide opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation and environmental education. As required by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the proposed plan ensures that wildlife has first priority and that recreation and other uses are allowed when compatible with the purpose, mission and vision of the refuges.

Copies of the proposed plan are available by contacting the refuge office: Ken Litzenberger, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 16450 NW 31st Place, Chiefland, FL 32626; (352) 493-0238. The draft plan and more information are also available on the Internet at: http://lowersuwannee.fws.gov.

Those who cannot attend the public meeting and would like to share their ideas may submit them in writing to the refuge office or through our web site. For ideas to be considered in the preparation of the final plan, comments must be submitted by July 6, 2001. Those who wish to have their name and address placed on a mailing list to receive the final plan, must make a written request. The reason for this is that Federal government mailing lists must be released to the public upon request (in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act of 1974).

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/.

Atlanta, GA 30345

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

2001 News Releases

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