Open houses to seek comments for creating new wildlife refuge

RINGWOOD – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released for public review and comment an environmental assessment for a possible national wildlife refuge that would include part of McHenry County.

The assessment presents four alternatives to benefit specific wildlife and plant habitats within the original study area, according to a news release.

The boundaries were based on watersheds, existing conservation areas, habitat requirements of desired wildlife species, public roads and comments received from the public.

The preferred alternative identified by the planning team would link and expand existing conservation areas to benefit migratory birds and endangered species, and provide wildlife-dependent recreation.

Land conservation methods for core areas, up to 11,200 acres, would include fee purchase from willing sellers, conservation easements and private initiatives aimed at creating contiguous natural habitat, the news release said.

The agency will host two open house events, where people can talk with planning staff and submit comments on the environmental assessment.

The first open house will run from 5 to 8 p.m. April 3 at the Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park, Route 31and Harts Road, Ringwood. The second will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at Brookwood Middle School, 1020 Hunter’s Ridge Drive, Genoa City, Wis.

Comment forms will be made available so that written comments can be submitted immediately or mailed in later.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will accept comments on the environmental assessment until April 27. Written comments can be submitted at the open houses or to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Conservation Planning - Attn: Hackmatack Refuge EA, 5600 American Boulevard West, Bloomington, MN 55437.

Comments also may be sent through the fish and wildlife service’s planning website at www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/Hackmatack/index.html. The environmental assessment also may be viewed there.

For information on the agency’s Midwest Region, visit midwest.fws.gov.

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