The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has extended the public comment period on its new plan for the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge until Jan. 28, 2013.
The service originally had established Dec. 27 as the cutoff date.
Kevin Ryan, project leader of the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex said, “We extended it because a number of people asked if it could be extended through the holiday period. We thought that was a reasonable request.”
Once it’s approved, the plan will guide management of the refuge for the next 15 years.
The most controversial items in the plan would ban horseback riding and jogging on the site, which includes the famous Dungeness Spit and the adjacent shoreline.
A statement issued by the service said, “The draft analysis has found that jogging is not appropriate due to wildlife disturbance and therefore would no longer be allowed.”
“The service has also preliminarily determined that horseback riding should no longer be allowed due to safety concerns and user conflicts.”
The service says there will be a new focus on enhancing the public’s understanding and appreciation of the refuge’s natural and cultural resources through both on- and off-refuge interpretation and education programs.
“Feedback from the public is important to us,” Ryan said. “The planning process is a way for the service and the public to evaluate management goals and strategies that will provide opportunities for the public to safely enjoy wildlife-dependent recreation at the refuge while ensuring that wildlife and habitat conservation comes first.”
The service also is calling for more active habitat management projects, including invasive species removal. The plan calls for removing unneeded roads, increasing species diversity and enhancement of freshwater impoundment on the Dawley unit.
The full draft plan and the latest planning update can be found at www.fws.gov/pacific/planning.
Printed copies are available for review at the Sequim Library. Printed or CD-ROM copies can be requested from the Refuge Office at 457-8451.
Comments on the draft plan should be mailed, faxed or e-mailed by Jan. 28, 2013, to: Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 715 Holgerson Road,
Sequim, WA 98382; fax number 457-9778; or e-mail FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Include Dungeness in the e-mail subject line.
Public comments will be addressed in the final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment, scheduled to be completed in winter 2013.