USFWS environmental assessment now available

AUGUSTA, AR (AGFC) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that the Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Central Arkansas National Wildlife Refuge Complex is now available for public review and comment. The complex consists of Bald Knob, Big Lake, Cache River and Wapanocca national wildlife refuges.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking written public comments on this draft plan and environmental assessment through close of business on Sept. 28, 2009. The draft plan and environmental assessment was developed in cooperation with partners that include state wildlife agencies, elected officials, non-governmental conservation organizations and the general public.

Comprehensive conservation plans, as mandated by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, are intended to ensure that wildlife refuges continue to be managed for the benefit of both wildlife and the American public. The purpose of the comprehensive conservation plan is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year strategy for achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System, consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife management, conservation, legal mandates, and our policies.

The public is invited to attend a series of open house meetings with refuge staff to learn more about the draft plan and to provide comment. The open houses are scheduled as follows:

  • Sept. 15 - Bald Knob Municipal Building, 3713 Highway 367 in Bald Knob.
  • Sept. 17 - National Guard Armory, 500 Highway 64 East in Augusta.
  • Sept. 21 - Manila Community Center, 855 Airport Road in Manila.
  • Sept. 22 - Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters, Highway 42 East, just south of Turrell.
  • Sept. 24 - Brinkley Convention Center, 1501 Weatherby Drive in Brinkley.

Anyone interested in participating in the public review and comment process is invited to drop by anytime between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Refuge staff will be available for information, discussion of the draft plan or management issues and to receive comments. All comments received will be considered in preparation of the final plan.

Copies of the Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment may be obtained at the open house meetings; the Central Arkansas Refuges Headquarters, 26320 Highway 33 South, Augusta, AR 72006; or via mail by contacting William R. Smith, Natural Resource Planner AT (870) 347-2074 or A copy of the plan is also available on the FWS Web site at: