Richard Speer, 573-222-3589
Scott Flaherty 612-713-5309
Service Seeks Public Comment on Draft Fire Management Plan and Environmental Assessments
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking the public to comment on plans that will affect the management of three national wildlife refuges (NWR) in Missouri. The Service is seeking public input on a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and draft Fire Management Plan (FMP) for Mingo NWR, as well as draft FMPs for Pilot Knob and Ozark Cave Fish NWR.
Mingo NWR is located in Stoddard and Wayne Counties in southeast Missouri. The refuge comprises of 21,676 acres of forested bottomland wetlands nestled against the Ozark foothills. Pilot Knob NWR is a 90-acre refuge in Iron County near Ironton (approximately 60 miles northwest of Mingo NWR) while Ozark Cave Fish NWR is a 40-acre refuge in Lawrence County near Halltown (approximately 20 miles west of Springfield, Mo.)
The Environmental Assessment for Mingo NWR considers four alternatives, including the “no action” alternative required for all National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents. The “preferred alternative” is to adopt the FMP and to allow for prescribed burns and to suppress all wildland fires. One alternative would allow for no prescribed burning and to monitor all wildland fires while a fourth alternative would allow both prescribed burns and the monitoring of wildland fires. Fire Management Plans for Pilot Knob and Ozark Cave Fish refuges will be approved as “categorical exclusions” because of the small physical size of the refuges.
The fire management plan for the refuges include a description of refuge habitats and surrounding lands, and the proposed actions regarding wildfire suppression and use of prescribed fire. Copies of the plans can be requested from the headquarters office at Mingo NWR located just north of Puxico Mo., or at the public libraries in Puxico, Ironton, and Republic, Mo. The plans may also be viewed on-line at the following addresses:
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 more than 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 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 governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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