RGS Unhappy With Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan

Ruffed Grouse Society Unhappy With Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan
Absence of hunting counters direction of President’s Executive Order 13443

Ruffed Grouse Society

Coraopolis, Pennsylvania – The Ruffed Grouse Society is disappointed that enhancing game wildlife habitats, populations and hunting opportunity is entirely absent from the goals listed to enhance wildlife-oriented recreation presented in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Draft Revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

“In a letter to US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) Planning Team Leader Rob Campellone, Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) Director of Conservation, Dan Dessecker wrote: “This is especially disconcerting given that public comments provided during the development of the Draft demonstrate that hunting is tied with hiking as the second most popular form of public recreation on the refuge. In addition, this conspicuous absence of hunting from the list of priority objectives for the refuge runs counter to clear direction provided by President George W. Bush in his Executive Order 13443, the stated purpose of which is to facilitate the expansion of hunting opportunities and the management of game species and their habitats.”

Nearly two million acres in size, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge — located about two and a half hours from Anchorage in south-central Alaska — is characterized by its diverse habitats and wildlife. Created in 1941 to protect the Kenai moose, sixty-five percent of refuge lands are designated wilderness.

“An assessment of the acres available for active habitat management on the refuge under each potential alternative shows that wildlife habitat management activities in the future will be drastically reduced from present levels. All alternatives other than the “No Action” alternative reduce by approximately 50-percent of the acreage is classified as either Traditional Management or Moderate Management; the classifications where mechanical treatments and/or prescribed fire can be used to sustain habitats for game and non-game wildlife. The Draft provides no assessment of how these proposed changes to existing management direction will affect game wildlife populations and hunting opportunity,” Dessecker said. Adding that if implemented, the current Draft will lead to reductions in habitats essential for game wildlife and, therefore, hunting opportunities.

The Ruffed Grouse Society respectfully urges the US Fish & Wildlife Service to modify and select an alternative for implementation that will aid in meeting public expectations for recreation on the refuge and help to secure the future of our hunting heritage. In addition, the Society urges the Service to incorporate into the Draft a clear assessment of the potential effects of the proposed alternatives on hunting opportunity on the refuge. Such an assessment is essential if the hunting community, a primary user group, is to be able to provide informed input.

Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage.

Information on the RGS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found on the web at: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.

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