Tags: national wildlife refuges
Eight NWRs in South Carolina conserve more than 161,000 acres of land, water surfaces and wetlands to provide habitat for a wide variety of animals. Seven of the refuges are open to the public for birding and wildlife observation, hiking, boating, fishing, hunting and other recreation compatible with the preservation mandate.
The new page for South Carolina wildlife refuges joins pages for South Carolina National Parks, National Forests and U.S. Corps of Engineers Projects (dams and reservoirs), and directories for camping at National Parks and National Forests in South Carolina.
Carolina Outdoors Guide is a comprehensive directory of federal and state recreation sites in North Carolina, including national and state parks and forests, wild and scenic rivers, National Wildlife Refuges, Corps of Engineers projects, Tennessee Valley Authority reservoirs, coastal reserves and more, with separate sections for camping and hiking, plus a links section with more than 50 links to federal and state outdoors resources and various advocacy/support groups connected to preservation and conservation of parks and the natural environment.
No other single source on the Web or in print lists as many federal and state public recreation sites in the Carolinas.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has its eyes on 23,000 acres in the North Carolina and Tennessee mountains that it would like to see become the 12th National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina.
The proposed Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge would comprise as many as 30 sites in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Clay, Graham, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Transylvania, Wilkes and Watauga counties, North Carolina, and Carter and Johnson counties, Tennessee, the Fish & Wildlife Service says.
The refuge would protect Southern Appalachian bogs, one of the nation’s rarest and most imperiled natural habitats.
"National Wildlife Refuges are lands, managed by or in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, set aside for the conservation of fish, wildlife and plants," Rick Huffines, deputy regional chief for the National Wildlife Refuge System, says in a news release. "Given the rarity of these bogs and their importance to plants and wildlife, creating a refuge to conserve them is a natural fit."
Creating the refuge will require fee-simple purchases, conservation easements, leases or cooperative agreements with landowners. Money would likely come from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which includes money collected from the sale of offshore oil and gas drilling leases.
The Service is authorized to acquire in fee-title or hold conservation easements on 30 sites covering approximately 23,000 acres containing bogs and surrounding lands among a 45,000-acre area.
"Mountain bogs are ... typically small and widely scattered across the landscape, often isolated from other wetlands," the Service says. "Important to wildlife, they’re home to five endangered species and provide habitat for migratory birds and important game animals, including mink, woodcock, ruffed grouse, turkey and wood duck. Bogs are breeding habitat for many species of amphibians, especially salamanders, for which the Southern Appalachians have the greatest diversity in the nation.
"In addition to their wildlife importance, bogs provide key services to humans. They’ve a natural capacity for regulating water flow - holding floodwaters like giant sponges then slowly releasing the water, thus decreasing the impacts of floods and droughts."
Parts of the proposed refuge would be too fragile for recreation, but other parts would be open for wildlife-based recreation, including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, education, and interpretation.
The Service is seeking public input about the proposed refuge at firstname.lastname@example.org or U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 160 Zillicoa St., Asheville, NC 28801, or at 828-258-3939.
The Service is also hosting a series of open houses to receive comments and answer questions:
* June 26, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Henderson County Public Library in Hendersonville.
* June 27, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Ashe County Public Library in West Jefferson.
* July 10, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Macon County Public Library in Franklin.
* July 11, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone.
The Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge homepage has a project overview, FAQs, wildlife benefits, a fact sheet and other documents, video and photos about work being done to conserve mountain bogs, and more.
In case we have to tell you, coastal parks are closed in anticipation of Hurricane Irene, including Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores, the five National Wildlife Refuges, all day use sites and campgrounds in the Croatan National Forest, and campgrounds at the eight state parks in the coastal region.
State parks remained open for day use as of Wednesday (when the news release was, umm, released) but were to close on short notice as conditions warranted.
Here's where to get National Weather Service watches, warnings or advisories for North Carolina.