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May 13, 2011     Cape Gazette
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May 13, 2011

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NNNgllUl,lmJ~t~uum.uum 22 FRIDAY, MAY 13 - MONDAY, MAY 16, 2011 NEW Cape Gazette intensify study of Prime Hook Officials want more input on environmental issues By Ron MacArthur The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser- vice has decided to undertake a ramped-up environmental study to assess factors affecting Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. The service announced May 9 it would develop an environmen- tal impact statement for its long- term comprehensive conserva- tion plan for the refuge on Delaware Bay near Milton. When the service began devel- oping the plan in 2005, the plan called or a less intense study, known as an environmental as- sessment, which is required for a majority of national wildlife refuges across the country. Sb years later, it has becQme evident the environmental and management issues at Prime Hook require the more thorough analysis and additional opportu- nities for public involvement called for in preparing an envi- ronmental impact statement, said Michael Stroeh, refuge man- ager. The service's notice of intent to complete the study has been published in the Federal Register. Public comments may be sub- mitted to northeastplanning through Thursday, June 23. The decision to complete a full environmental impact statement will continue the planning process started in 2005. All pub- lic comments received during earlier hearings in Milton, Dover and Lewes will be considered in drafting the statement, said Stroeh. More than 100 residents attended the meetings. The service anticipates mak- ing a draft of the study available for public review by late summer 2011. The conservation plan is a 15- year plan for managing wildlife populations, wildlife habitats and public-use programs on a national wildlife refuge. Each plan is developed to meet envi- ronmental standards and public- involvement requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. Under the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act of 1997, the service is required to com- plete a plan for all national wildlife refuges by the end of 2012. Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1963 to protect wintering and breeding habitat for migratory birds. The refuge spans 10,133 acres on the western shore of the Delaware Bay. It is a mix of saltwater and freshwater wetlands bordered by woods and other upland habi- tats, and is considered a pre- miere site for waterfowl hunting. Residential developments and agricultural lands surround the refuge. Stonm wrealt rduge The refuge has come under as- sault overthe past three years from a series of powerful storms and nor'easters causing breaches in the duneline in the northern section of the refuge in the Fowler Beach area. Saltwater overwash from the bay has helped to alter at least one of the freshwater impound- ments. Kyla J. Hastie, acting regional director, said several key issues will be studied including sea-lev- el rise and other factors affecting refuge marshes such as mosquito control, cooperative farming and hunting on refuge lands. "Successful conservation strategies will require an under- standing of climate change and the ability to predict how those changes will affect fish and wildlife at multiple scales," she said. Sea-level rise models indicate that much of the refuge could be under water within 50 to 100 years. Hastie said an on-refuge farm-. ing program with a long history has come to a halt pending the findings of the comprehensive conservation plan. Following a court order banning genetically modified crops, /.he refuge stopped its farming program in 2006. Hastie said the refuge is asking the public for ways to im- prove its hunting program. "Hunting has and will contin- ue to be an integral component of the public-use program at the refuge," she said. The acting director said it's be- coming more difficult to balance the needs of wildlife and people INTRODUCING NeW FROZEN It's tart. It's sweet. It's lemon and last! Mixing and mingling to swirl up an ense burst of flavor. It's the newest drink to join Frapp6s and Real Fruit Smoothies in the McCaf6 line of icy deliciousness. Let us make one just for you. as residential development en- croaches onwild areas, and more visitors participate in wildlife- dependant recreational activities at the refuge. Controlling mosquitoes, which are a part of the natural environ- ment and an important food source, by using insecticides can have devastating effects on in- sects, which are in turn food sources for fish, amphibians and migratory birds. "We will continue to work with state's mosquito-control section while striving to protect the biological integrity, diversity and environmental health of the refuge," she said. s i'm Iovin' it"