Hurricane Dennis Damages U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Facilities
Hurricane Dennis has damaged four National Wildlife Refuges and two Fisheries facilities in the Southeast Region. The Panama City (Florida) and Daphne (Alabama) Ecological Services Field Offices have begun resource assessments of wildlife habitats impacted by the hurricane.
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (Florida) - Closed to public access until further notice and dependent upon further assessment and major repairs. Extremely high storm surge severely damaged roads, levees, and dikes. Lighthouse Road (the main entry road to the refuge) suffered major roadway asphalt destruction (see photos below). One lane of the two-lane Lighthouse Road has sections washed away. Numerous refuge roads and levees have received major damage (see photos). Additional security personnel have been brought in to secure the facility.
St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge (Florida) - Closed to public access until further notice and dependent upon further assessment. Many community roads leading to refuge access points and facility roads are closed due to flooding. An aerial assessment conducted late Monday found heavy debris accumulations and will require extensive and long-term recovery operations. Facility structural assessments will take place as soon as roads are opened. A water pump house caught fire and was destroyed during the storm. Lightning may have been the cause, but high floodwaters have prevented verification.
Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge (Florida) - Closed until a complete assessment can be completed. A number of trees are down and flooding has impacted roads.
Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge (Alabama) - Closed to the public since storm's feeder bans impacted the area on Sunday. Some parts of the refuge are expected to reopen today after an assessment for public use hazards is completed. A large number of trees are down and some roads have been damaged by flooding.
J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge (Florida) - Open. The refuge reopened to the public on Monday afternoon. Refuge personnel continue to remove downed tree limbs and debris throughout the facility. No structural damage to buildings has been detected, and roads are in good shape.
Florida Keys Refuges (National Key Deer Refuge) - Open. All Service locations within the Keys have reopened to the public. Refuge staff completed a damage assessment of facilities and found typical post storm cleanup needs.
Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery (Mississippi) – 20,000 fish lost. Heavy rain damaged a waterline within a levee and a back-up generator failed. The waterline damage resulted in the loss of 20,000 striped bass.
Warm Springs Regional Fisheries Center (Georgia) - Heavy rains and flooding damaged the facility's laboratory building, aquarium, and government quarters.
Various other Service locations within the northwest track of the storm have received typical storm damage with minimal cleanup costs. All Southeast Region facilities not listed above are open to the public under normal operations.
T he 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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and wildlife management offices and 81 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 Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.
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