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Fish and Wildlife Service Announces it Will Begin Comprehensive Conservation Planning Process for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

For Immediate Release
April 6, 2010



The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that the
Service is beginning an update of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s 22
year-old Comprehensive Conservation Plan that will establish goals and
objectives and include wilderness and wild and scenic river reviews. A
comprehensive conservation plan is required for each national wildlife
refuge, guides stewardship of the refuge and is normally updated every 15
years.

The planning process will begin with public meetings to discuss issues and
future goals for stewardship of the Arctic Refuge. The Service will meet
with the public this April and May in the following communities in Alaska:
Anchorage, Arctic Village, Fairbanks, Fort Yukon, Kaktovik, and Venetie.
There will also be a public meeting in Washington DC on May 4, 2010.
Dates, times, and locations of the other meetings will be announced locally
in advance. The meetings will help the Service identify issues and draft
alternatives for future stewardship of the refuge. After evaluating public
comments, the Service will release a draft plan for public review and
comment in February 2011. Based upon a thorough review of comments, the
Service will issue the final plan and record of decision in April 2012.

As part of the planning process for Alaska refuges, the Service may
inventory, study, and possibly propose areas suitable for wilderness within
the National Wilderness Preservation System. Wilderness areas preserve a
landscape’s natural conditions for the benefit and use of the American
people. A wilderness area recommendation by the Service is forwarded to
the Secretary of the Interior for consideration. Any new wilderness
designation requires Congressional approval.

“The comprehensive conservation planning process gives the Service the
opportunity to evaluate the needs of each refuge and the resources it
serves, and to create a road map for meeting those needs. For this process
to be complete, the leadership of every refuge should have the opportunity
to work with partners and the public to determine if any lands are
appropriate for inclusion in the wilderness system,” said Alaska Regional
Director Geoffrey L. Haskett.

“No decision has yet been made about the status of any lands in the refuge
not currently designated as wilderness. If any lands are recommended for
wilderness designation, they would be identified and vetted through
extensive public consultation and review as part of the plan revision
process and ultimately require congressional approval,” said Haskett. “The
Refuge’s current CCP is more than 20 years old, and much has changed since
then. New laws and policies have been enacted, climate change has emerged
as a concern, the Dalton Highway has opened to the public, and visitor use
patterns have changed.”

The Service had postponed wilderness reviews of Alaska refuges as it
awaited finalization of national refuge wilderness stewardship policy. This
policy, finalized in November 2008, requires wilderness reviews for refuges
outside of Alaska and provides the option for wilderness reviews for
refuges within Alaska. The Service Director directed that wilderness
reviews be included for Alaska refuges. Additional information about the
planning process for Arctic Refuge is posted at
http://arctic.fws.gov/ccp.htm.

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. We are both a leader and
trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific
excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated
professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our
work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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