News

Reshaping the Dungeness Refuge

by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Sequim Gazette
 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comments on proposed changes to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). The new CCP will guide refuge management through the next 15 years.

 

The wildlife refuge includes the famous spit that is home to the New Dungeness Light Station.

 

Dave Falzetti, refuge officer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the proposed alternatives now under discussion include a few changes to the allowed public uses of the area.

 

While jogging is allowed on upland trails, the west beach and the first half mile of the spit, it could be prohibited altogether. Falzetti said the refuge is “set-aside for wildlife” and called jogging “counterproductive to wildlife. Wildlife sees running people as predators.” He noted jogging is allowed within the adjacent Clallam County Dungeness Recreation Area.

 

He also said there may be a “minor change” to the rules regarding horseback riding, with the possibility that riding, which now is allowed on weekdays through the summer, will be disallowed altogether from May 15-Sept. 30. While horseback riding currently is allowed at any time through the rest of the year, one proposal now under discussion would restrict riding to weekdays.

 

“The goal isn’t to do away with horseback riding,” Falzetti said, “it’s to lessen the conflict between horses and pedestrians on the steep area that goes down to the spit. “

Biological changes

Sue Thomas, a wildlife biologist with the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex, said the proposals call for greater management of the refuge’s freshwater wetlands. That might include creating a wetland inventory and hydrological assessment of the Dawley and Dungeness units and conducting baseline migratory bird, amphibian and bat surveys of the units.

 

The refuge’s “instream and riparian habitat” also would receive greater attention, including slope stabilization of the main road and a new partnership with “upstream land owners to improve and protect water quality.”

 

A number of additional issues have been raised:

 

• What can be done to reduce the risk of oil and other contaminant spills?
• Which invasive species should be the highest priority for monitoring and control measures?
• What, if anything, should be done about anticipated impacts of sea level rise?
• How can impacts to wildlife and habitats from research or monitoring activities be minimized?

• How can the service reduce the incidences of human-caused wildlife disturbance on and adjacent to the refuge and improve compliance with refuge regulations?

 

For more information, call the Refuge Complex office at 457-8451 or go to www.fws.gov/pacific/planning/main/docs/wa/docsdungeness.htm.
Questions should be sent to sent to FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov (with Dungeness NWR CCP in the subject line).

 

 

Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.

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