The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will take six months to review its options about how to proceed with a proposed expansion of the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge’s acquisition boundary – a procedural requirement needed to work with willing sellers in the years ahead.
“Our number one priority is to work in tandem with landowners, community and business leaders, the state, our conservation partners, and others, who are interested in the future of Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge and the protection of these extraordinary natural resources for generations to come,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “Moving forward, we are committed to doing a better job collaborating with citizens throughout the Cahaba River basin.”
The Service will use the next six months to re-evaluate the proposal and its scope, assess workload and funding requirements, and address staff transitions at the refuge. The decision comes after the Service completed a Draft Environmental Assessment and Land Protection Plan in June 2010 proposing to expand the refuge’s acquisition boundary, held two public hearings about the proposal, and extended the comment period through December 6. The agency will consider all comments it receives as future steps are determined to meet conservation goals for the Cahaba River NWR.
Acquisition boundaries are administrative lines on a map that delineate areas where the Service can negotiate with owners willing to sell their land or otherwise protect it through the establishment of a lease or conservation easement. Land within the acquisition boundary is not part of the refuge until the Service acquires a legal interest in the land through a management agreement, easement, lease, donation, or purchase, working with willing sellers. Private lands and state-owned and managed lands that occur within an acquisition boundary are not subject to any refuge regulations or jurisdictions the Service follows.
Cahaba River NWR, located in Bibb County, shelters globally unique species and habitats and includes 3.5 miles of the Cahaba, Alabama’s longest free-flowing river. It is presently one of the nation’s smaller national wildlife refuges, but is the fifth largest of Alabama’s 11 national wildlife refuges. Since the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 2002, the approved acquisition boundary, which includes the refuge’s current holdings, has been expanded to 7,600 acres.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information about Cahaba NWR, please visithttp://www.fws.gov/cahabariver/
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