Hunters Resources

 

Hunter Input Needed In Refuge Plan
10/02/2001
 

The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 did more than provide some limited protection to hunting and fishing. It established a legal requirement that all refuges develop a “Comprehensive Conservation Plan” (CCP) within 15 years. CCP’s are documents that provide a framework for governing future refuge management decisions. They can support or eliminate hunting, fishing and trapping. In fact, the antis are trying to eliminate trapping in Congress by eliminating the funding to do CCP’s for trapping. The CCP of each separate refuge will determine your ability to hunt and fish, not the general law. Hunting and fishing opportunities will be determined on a refuge-by-refuge basis, and the public is to participate in the process, anti-hunters as well as sportsmen. It is now up to local sportsmen to contact their local refuge administrators and get involved. We recommend you do it formally by letter. Ask to be notified of all meetings and to be copied with all draft plans. Assign one to seven people (three preferably) to each refuge in your area, but do it now. You may want to coordinate your efforts with your local National Wild Turkey Federation, FNAWS, SCI, REMF, DU Chapter or taxidermy association - perhaps by creating a working group with an individual from each. I know that the National Wild Turkey Federation, SCI and others, already have working memorandums on refuges with the Service which though not necessary, should facilitate involvement. It is up to those chapters to act upon their added opportunity to protect their interest. All CCP’s have to be completed by 2012.

Over 121 plans are already underway, and 27 are scheduled for completion in the next three months. After adoption, the plans are to be revised every 15 years. The plans will be comprehensive - that is, they will guide all management decisions, outline how the refuge will achieve its conservation goals and set forth what uses are compatible. Grass roots action by sportsmen and organizations will play a large role in preserving the right to hunt and fish in the 92 million acres of refuge from Alaska to southern Florida. On the national level the Service has published a request for comments on the overall planning policy. The full text of the proposed overall Comprehensive Conservation Planning Policy can be found in the August 13, 1999, Federal Register, or on the Internet at http://refuges.fws.gov. It is also available from the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Division of Refuges, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia, 22203. Tel. 703-358-1744. A review of this document should provide you some direction in your grass roots effort. Written comments can be provided by mail to the Chief, Division of Refuges, at the above address; via fax at 703-358-2248; or via the Internet at Planning_Policy_Comments@fws.gov.


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