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Comment Period Extended on Grand Kankakee Marsh Refuge

For Immediate Release             Contact:
June 19, 1998                     Georgia Parham  812-334-4261 x 203 
EA98-47                           E:mail: Georgia_Parham@mail.fws.gov
                                  Charles Holbrook  815-263-4918
                                  E:mail: Charles_Holbrook@mail.fws.gov
                 EXTENDED UNTIL AUGUST 20, 1998
The public has until August 20, 1998, to provide ideas and opinions to the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service on the agency's proposed Grand Kankakee Marsh National
Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Indiana and northeastern Illinois.
The Service's proposal, a draft Environmental Assessment, examines options for 
protecting fish and wildlife habitat in the Kankakee River watershed in Illinois
and Indiana through a joint venture initiative with private and public partners.
 If approved, the Grand Kankakee Marsh National Wildlife Refuge would be managed
to provide habitat for migratory birds, fish, and endangered species.
"Through careful management, the vitality of this important habitat can be 
restored, enhanced, and protected.  And, this area can be a fun place for people
to enjoy wildlife-dependent recreation," said Charles Holbrook, project manager.
Holbrook added that drainage of farmlands is an important issue in the Kankakee 
watershed.  "If a refuge is established, the Service would continue to work in 
partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other partners to assure 
that drainage and flood control needs are not adversely affected by the refuge,"
he said.  "Productive agriculture and viable fish and wildlife protection 
already occur on many national wildlife refuges across the United States."
Holbrook encouraged the public to comment on the proposed refuge.  The extension
of the comment period will allow additional opportunity for all interested 
individuals and organizations to provide input, Holbrook noted.
"We have been pleased with the broad level of interest from the public on this 
refuge proposal," said Holbrook.  "We have compiled more than 7,000 written 
comments from 27 states on the proposed refuge, the vast majority of which 
express support for the benefits of a refuge in this important natural area.  We
are also hearing from those who have concerns or questions about the refuge, and
with our interim office in Momence, Illinois, we will keep working to ensure 
that those questions are answered and concerns addressed."
Holbrook said the Service provides information and updates on the proposed 
project to nearly 3,000 individuals on the agency's mailing list.  Each 
individual on the mailing list receives periodic newsletters which address the 
most frequently asked questions as well as information on the progress on the 
proposal.  Interested individuals are encouraged to contact the Service at 812- 
334-4261 to be placed on the mailing list.
Copies of the draft Environmental Assessment are available for review at many 
public libraries throughout the Kankakee River basin.  In addition, a summary of
the document may be viewed on the Service's worldwide web site at 
www.fws.gov/r3pao/ext_affr/news.htm  Comments may be submitted to U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Branch of Ascertainment and Planning, 1 Federal Drive, Fort 
Snelling, Minnesota, 55111-4056 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 620 South
Walker Street, Bloomington, Indiana 47403-2121.  For more information, contact 
the Service at 812-334-4261.
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Subject: Comment Period Extended on Grand Kankakee Marsh Refuge
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