Plans released for Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:04

    Total boundaries to expand to 17,050 acres SUSSEX —The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s conservation plan for the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex has been released. According to Refuge Manager Edward Henry, this plan will guide wildlife and habitat management activities, public use, and other programs at the refuge for up to 15 years. The plan was developed by a team of service managers, biologists and land use planners in consultation with state agencies, conservation organizations and residents of the area. The team considered three alternatives for managing the refuge, and evaluated the feasibility and environmental consequences of each proposal. “With this plan, the refuge will continue its great tradition of preserving wildlife habitat and providing wildlife dependent recreation in Sussex and Orange counties,” Henry said. The plan includes the following guidance: Land acquisition: The boundary for the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge has been expanded by 9,550 acres, creating a new refuge acquisition boundary of 17,050 acres total. New lands will be acquired from willing sellers through a combination of fee-simple and easement purchase. The amount of land to be purchased depends on the number of willing sellers and the amount of available funding. The expansion area includes four focus areas which have wetland resource values, and together form a key corridor connecting preserved habitats on the Kittatinny Ridge to the west and the Hudson Highlands to the east. Recreational Programs: The New Jersey portion of the refuge to bear hunting will be opened according to state seasons, in addition to continuing the refuge’s current hunt program. Access to service-owned lands will increase with the creation of at least two new trails and the extension of an existing trail. The service will also provide at least one additional fishing access site within the original refuge acquisition boundary. New interpretive materials will be developed and we will work with partners to expand our environmental education programs. Biological Programs: The service will allocate more resources toward managing and monitoring federal-listed species that now live or historically lived on the refuge. The service will also take a more proactive approach to restoring wetlands, and establish a 100-meter forested riparian corridor along either side of the Wallkill River. Three grassland focus areas will be established on the refuge, while other fields will be allowed to revert to scrub-shrub habitat. More information on the planning process is available at Copies of the plan are available in print or on CD-ROM by e-mailing Put “Wallkill River” in the subject line. Call 973-702-7266 or 413-253-8564 for more information.