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Major Cleanup of Alabama’s Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Underway


August 4, 2005

Contacts: Jim Rothschild, 404/679-7299

Cleanup of more than 174 acres of wildlife habitat has begun on the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores, Alabama following last September’s Hurricane Ivan.

The contract of more than 2.5 million dollars was awarded to Three Dueces, Inc., a contractor from Pearl River, Louisiana.

“We’re excited that the cleanup is progressing, said Robert Cail, refuge manager. Our contractor started removing debris on July 25, and hopefully some of the refuge trails will be open to the public in time for bird migration in the fall.”

All refuge property is currently closed except for the beach and its access points at Mobile Street and Fort Morgan. Visitors may use the beach area less than 100 feet from active surf for sun bathing and viewing wildlife. It is particularly important to remain within the beach area because of the increase of dump trucks and other heavy equipment at the refuge. Restricting the available beach area also reduces foot traffic in dunes which are recovering naturally.

Hurricane Ivan closed more than five miles of hiking trails when it swept through Gulf Shores on September 16, 2004. Ivan destroyed much of the refuge’s pristine wildlife habitat, essentially turning it into a landfill by washing up hazards such as propane tanks, boats, jet skis, trailers, parts of buildings, and other scattered construction debris. Among the areas hardest hit were the Jeff Friend Trail, along the north shore of Little Lagoon, and the dune ecosystem on the Purdue and Fort Morgan Units.

A public reopening ceremony will be scheduled when the refuge is cleared of debris.

According to Cail, as part of the contract Three Dueces, Inc., will recycle more than 75 percent of the construction debris, thus reducing the environmental impacts.

The work at Bon Secour is part of a comprehensive $35 million cleanup of hurricane damage to National Wildlife Refuges in several southeastern states and Puerto Rico. The Southeast was particularly hard hit by an unprecedented series of four major hurricanes that tore through the region in the summer of 2004. The funds were appropriated by an emergency spending bill supported by all members of the Alabama congressional delegation.

Established in 1980, the 6,816-acre Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge hosts more than 100,000 visitors annually. The endangered Alabama beach mouse is found there, along with nesting green and loggerhead sea turtles. The refuge is also an important stop for many species of neotropical migratory birds. Visitors enjoy fresh and salt water fishing and bird and wildlife observation.

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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources 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 and Native American tribal 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.

Massive debris piles were washed on to the Bon Secour NWR as a result of a 20' storm surge from Hurricane Ivan in 2004.   FWS photo.
Massive debris piles were washed
on to the Bon Secour NWR as a
result of a 20' storm surge from
Hurricane Ivan in 2004. FWS photo.


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