U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service | Southeast Region News Release
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Fish & Wildlife Service Proposes to Protect Additional Fish and Wildlife Habitats Near or Adjacent to the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Complex


May 14, 2001

Lou Hinds, (941) 472-1100
Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has begun a planning effort to protect additional fish and wildlife habitats by establishing and/or expanding the boundaries of the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The Complex consists of five existing national wildlife refuges in Lee and Charlotte Counties, Florida: Pine Island, Matlacha Pass, Island Bay, Caloosahatchee, and J. N. "Ding" Darling.

While an initial study area has been identified, the boundaries of the refuges will be determined during the preparation of an environmental assessment. Public involvement will be an important element in this process. As an initial step, the Service will host three public informational meetings in Southwest Florida. Each meeting will include approximately 30 minutes of public information, followed by two hours of public participation where members of the community will be encouraged to ask questions and give comments.

The public is invited to attend any or all of these meetings, which will be held at the following times and locations:

May 22, 2001 - 7:00 p.m. Fishers of Men Lutheran Church
10360 Stringfellow Rd.,
St. James City, Pine Island;
May 23, 2001 - 9:30 a.m. J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel; and
May 23, 2001 - 7 p.m. Ramada Inn & Suites at Amtel Marina
2500 Edwards Drive, Fort Myers.

Additional information on the refuge proposal is available through a fact sheet published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Persons interested in participating in the public informational meetings or receiving copies of the fact sheet and future updates should write to Mr. Charles R. Danner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Refuges, 1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, Georgia 30345, 1-800-419-9582; or call the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Complex at 941-472-1100.

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


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