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FWS Releases Refuge Policies

Tuesday, January 30, 2001

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released for public comment four draft policies related to the management of the 530 national wildlife refuges that make up the 93 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System. The policies are not regulations but they will guide refuge managers in the implementation of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act which passed in 1997 and was strongly supported by the NRA.

The Improvement Act declared wildlife dependent uses, including hunting, to be priority public uses and made it the obligation of refuge managers to provide for these uses as best as possible so long as they are found compatible with refuge purposes (see the related article on this webpage entitled "Hunting on Refuges"). One of the draft policies addresses how these six priority public uses will be integrated into refuge management. Another policy spells out the process for evaluating what other uses are "suitable" on refuges before a compatibility review is conducted. A third policy addresses management of refuges that are in whole or in part covered by the provisions of the Wilderness Act and the proper management of the priority public uses in wilderness areas. The fourth policy clarifies the interaction between the mission of the Service, the goals of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the purposes for which each refuge was established.

The comment period for the draft policies has been extended to April 19. The policies can be accessed at the Service`s website: http://refuges.fws.gov under "What`s New." If you wish to submit comments, please address them to National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 670, Arlington, VA 22203 or fax to 703-358-2248.

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