Public comments needed for the future of 3 MA Refuge hunts

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Public comments needed for the future of 3 MA Refuge hunts

Postby Mike M. » Fri Mar 16, 2007 10:44 pm

More important info pertaining to New England Hunters. Send your comments in. We can't let the anti's have their way.
_____________________________________



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2007

For further information: Libby Herland, Project Leader
Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex
73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury MA 01776
(978) 443-4661 x11; libby_herland@fws.gov


Refuge Evaluates Environmental Impacts of Hunt Programs,
Invites Public Comment


In response to a national lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has evaluated the long-term and cumulative environmental impacts resulting from hunt programs at three of the national wildlife refuges that comprise the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Three environmental assessments have been prepared and are available for public review and comment. The hunt programs that are evaluated in the assessments are:

• woodcock, white-tailed deer, turkey, gray squirrel, Eastern cottontail rabbit, and ruffed grouse at Assabet River NWR
• waterfowl and white-tailed deer hunting at Great Meadows NWR
• waterfowl, woodcock, white-tailed deer, turkey, gray squirrel, Eastern cottontail rabbit, and ruffed grouse at Oxbow NWR

These programs were proposed in April 2003 in the draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessments for these refuges. The final comprehensive plans containing revised hunt programs were approved in January 2005. A hunt program was initiated at the Assabet River NWR and Great Meadows NWR in the fall of 2005, and the Oxbow NWR hunt program was expanded in the fall of 2005.

The public may comment on the draft revised environmental assessments through April 16, 2007. Draft environmental assessments for Great Meadows NWR, Assabet River NWR, and Oxbow NWR are available for review at the headquarters of the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex, located at 73 Weir Hill Road in Sudbury. Office hours are 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, weekdays.

The environmental assessments are also available on-line at the following websites:

http://www.fws.gov/northeast/assabetriver
http://www.fws.gov/northeast/greatmeadows
http://www.fws.gov/northeast/oxbow

Public meetings will be held on Wednesday, April 11 at the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex headquarters from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm to 8 pm.

The Fund for Animals, a national animal rights organization, sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2003 alleging that the agency did not fully meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it opened national wildlife refuges to hunting between 1997 and 2003. The lawsuit affects migratory bird, upland game and big game hunt programs at 74 national wildlife refuges throughout the U.S. U.S. Circuit Court Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in August. The court did not stop national wildlife refuge hunt programs and the Service is working to fulfill NEPA requirements for the hunts at issue by May 31, 2007. During this time we are also addressing any similar deficiencies regarding the opening of hunts for 30 refuges opened to hunting since the lawsuit was filed and for seven 2006-2007 proposed refuge openings.

The draft revised environmental assessments for the hunt programs at Assabet River, Great Meadows, and Oxbow National Wildlife Refuges includes the Service’s analyses of the overall impacts of the hunts on resident wildlife, migratory species, threatened and endangered species, refuge facilities and visitor services, cultural resources, ecosystems, and neighboring lands. The Service also considered the cumulative impacts of past, present, and future hunts on wildlife species, refuge resources, and other wildlife-dependent refuge activities. Where appropriate, we assessed the cumulative environmental impacts at the local, regional, and migratory flyway levels.

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 545 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.
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Mike M.
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Postby Mike M. » Mon Mar 19, 2007 12:20 pm

Just in case there was any confusion I contacted Mike Dixon at great meadows to find out where to send public comments and he stated that we should send our comments to Libbey Herland at the addresses listed above.

All you have to say is that you support the refuges preferred alternative D. Alternative D is the proposal that would continue the hunting program already in place at these refuges.
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Postby Mike M. » Sun Mar 25, 2007 6:22 pm

Here is what I sent in. Even if you have not hunted at these 3 refuges you might want to in the future so it's important to send in a quick note to ensure future hunting opportunities. These antis don't really care about environmental assessments. This is just their way to try to restrict our right to hunt these lands. I sent my comments in last week and got a reply email from Ms. Herland the next day.

__________________________

Dear Ms. Herland:

I am writing to you today to comment and respond to the revised draft Environmental Assessments at Assabet River, Oxbow, and Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuges. As an avid waterfowl hunter and conservationist I strongly support Alternative D –The Current Refuge Hunt Program (Preferred Alternative) at these three refuges.

I had the opportunity to hunt some of the lands in 2006 with my Dad and it was a great experience. It was nice to finally be able to hunt on lands that my duck stamp dollars may have supported over the years. I truly hope that we will be able to hunt there again next year and for years to come so that the next generation of hunters will have the same opportunities to hunt on public lands that I have. Having worked in the natural resource management field I understand how difficult your job can be at times. Thank you for the hard work that you and your colleagues do day in and day out.


Sincerely,
(very important****)
Make sure to included your full name and mailing address so that your comments will be added to the official record.
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