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20
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Additional Hunting And Fishing Programs on Two National Wildlife Refuges in California

July 14, 2005

Contacts: Tom Harvey (Stone Lakes NWR) 916/775-4421
Kevin Foerster (Sacramento River NWR) 530/934 2801

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to add or expand hunting and fishing programs on two national wildlife refuges in California. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on July 12 and is available for public comment until August 5, 2005.

"This proposal aims to fulfill the intent of the 1997 National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act, which provides for expanding compatible wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities, such as hunting and fishing, on national wildlife refuges,” said Steve Thompson, manager of the Service's California/Nevada Operations Office. “We welcome hunters, anglers, bird watchers, photographers, and others who seek to enjoy the extraordinary resources on our wildlife refuges”

The Service is proposing to add Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) south of Sacramento to the agency's list of units open for hunting or fishing and expand recreational hunting and fishing opportunities on the Sacramento River NWR near Willows.

“Stone Lakes NWR will offer a new waterfowl hunting program in the very backyard of California's capital that will emphasize opportunities for youth and mobility-impaired hunters,” said refuge Manager Tom Harvey. “The proposed refuge hunt area is a new Service acquisition, and before our ownership was a private duck club. Now that the Service owns the land, the public will be afforded an opportunity to hunt here.”

“The opening of the Sacramento River NWR represents a fantastic opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to have access to the refuge and all its resources for the first time," said refuge Manager Kevin Foerster.

With the recent completion of its Comprehensive Conservation Plan, Sacramento River NWR will open 52 percent of the refuge (5,323 acres) to hunting of waterfowl, deer, and upland game birds. The refuge will also expand fishing and other wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities to 80 percent of the refuge (8,261 acres).

In 2004, there were 2.3 million hunting visits to wildlife refuges and 7 million fishing visits nationwide. By law, hunting and fishing are two of the six priority wildlife-dependent recreational uses on wildlife refuges. The refuge system provides opportunities to hunt and fish whenever they are compatible with the conservation goals of individual national wildlife refuges.

Wildlife refuges provide unparalleled outdoor activities, including fishing, hunting, environmental education and interpretation, wildlife observation and photography. Many wildlife refuges also offer opportunities for birding tours and other activities. There is at least one wildlife refuge within an hour's drive of most major cities.

The full text of the proposed Refuge-Specific Regulations for Hunting and Fishing can be found on the Internet at http://refuges.fws.gov within the "Policies and Budget" link. The Federal Register notice (links above) includes information on how to submit comments.

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 nearly 100-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 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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