Thursday, October 27, 2016

Northeast United States will have new national wildlife refuge

Americans will soon have a new national wildlife refuge to visit in five New England states and New York. The Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge, finalized by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on Tuesday, includes 15,000 acres of land that mainly consists of shrubland teeming with as many as 136 types of animals and insects, according to the Associated Press, which includes the New England cottontails and American woodcock. It also hosts threatened and endangered species such as bog turtles and the Massachusetts's northern red-bellied cooter. This new refuge is a continuation of President Obama’s streak in holding the record for protecting the most public land and water of any past president. It will be the 18th created under his administration since 2009 and the 566th in the nation, joining a network of protected areas covering over 150 million acres of land. It also increases the amount of land under FWS’ purview. In August, Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii to become the world’s largest marine protected area that spans two wildlife refuges. For the refuge to materialize, the next step for FWS is to acquire land from willing landowners in non-contiguous areas in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. According to the Associated Press, the officials say they plan to purchase half of the land targeted while obtaining the other half through conservation easement. The process could take decades, as the press release points out. It is entirely up to landowners to decide if they want to sell or donate their land to become part of the refuge. They could also opt for conservation easement, where the owners permanently sell property rights to FWS that restricts the types of activities that can be done on the land...more

For a list of recent refuges go here

Do you notice the difference of how this is done in private lands states and federal lands states?

The EIS for this wildlife refuge says, 

 All refuges within the project area have approved CCPs, and all have goals and objectives related to the restoration, maintenance, and continuing management of shrubland and young forest habitat. All of the CCPs were released for public and partner review and comment, with accompanying public meetings in their respective areas. 

A CCP is a Comprehensive Conservation Plan.

This is for 15,000 acres. All plans are completed with public review and comment prior to designation, and it is voluntary on whether or not you are part of the refuge.

Compare that to the 500,000 acre Organ Mtn-Desert Buttes National Monument. Sec. Jewell held one 'listening session', the plans come after the designation, and there is nothing voluntary about it.

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