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GLIN==> Service Seeks Additional Ideas on Restoration of Historic...




--------------- cc:Mail Forwarded ---------------
From:     NEWS@fws.gov AT FWS
Date:     12/03/99 08:51 AM
To:       fws-NEWS@www.fws.gov AT FWS
Subject:  Service Seeks Additional Ideas on Restoration of Historic...





Subject:
Service Seeks Additional Ideas on Restoration of Historic
Fairfield Marsh Area
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 3, 1999

EA99-54

Contacts: Joan Guilfoyle, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
612-713-5311;
cell 612-810-6797 John Christian, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service,
612-713-5101; cell 612-810-6955


                Service Seeks Additional Ideas on
           Restoration of Historic Fairfield Marsh Area

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and other
interested parties
will be forming a community- based group to participate in
discussions over
the next year to fully explore ideas for restoring the natural
resource
values of the historic Fairfield Marsh area. The Service
released a draft
Environmental Assessment (EA) in August evaluating several
alternatives for
a proposed Aldo Leopold National Wildlife Refuge in the
Fairfield Marsh
Area. During the EA comment period, it was suggested that an
approach with
more involvement by private landowners may be the preferred way
to protect
and restore the area.

"I heard the community talk about a desire to develop new ideas
about how
to protect and restore the former marsh area by working more
with private
landowners." said Bill Hartwig, Regional Director of the
Service's Great
Lakes/Big Rivers region. "Personal responsibility for natural
resource
conservation is integral to Aldo Leopold's land ethic
philosophy. We want
to support this unique initiative shown by local interests in
exploring
ways for landowners to play a more active role in resource
preservation in
the Fairfield Marsh area."

To accommodate this concept, the Service has decided to suspend
action on a
final EA to provide the opportunity for exploration of new
ideas for
restoration and conservation of this important marsh. The
Service is
expecting a report from the group by the end of the current
fiscal year,
September 30, 2000.

"I would like to take more time to gather ideas from the
community as to
how they would conserve and restore the natural diversity and
abundance of
fish, wildlife and plants in this area. The Service is
interested in
working with the community to incorporate and complement our
goals with
those of landowners and non-governmental parties interested in
conservation." Hartwig added.

Interested parties such as local landowners, the International
Crane
Foundation, the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the Wisconsin
Waterfowl
Association and other groups will be invited to explore how and
to what
degree the valuable historic marsh area can be restored and
conserved for
future generations.

"Existing programs and voluntary efforts by landowners and
other interested
parties definitely could play a key role in the protection and
restoration
of this area. And we'd like to make sure that we've provided
interested
parties ample opportunity to be involved in the discussions of
how to
preserve and enhance wildlife values in the Fairfield Marsh
area in a way
that is compatible with the interests of the local community."
said
Hartwig. "We want to explore the possibility and look at all
feasible
strategies to attain mutually agreed upon natural resource
goals for this
special part of Wisconsin."

The State of Wisconsin has lost 99 percent of its original,
pre-settlement
prairies and oak savannas, resulting in severely declining
populations of
grassland songbirds such as the bobolink, eastern meadowlark
and the
northern harrier (commonly called a marsh hawk). The State has
also lost
nearly 50 percent of its original wetlands from housing
developments,
highway construction, agricultural drainage and groundwater reductions.
Sauk County alone has lost about 95 percent of its pre-settlement wetlands.
There is a greater understanding today of the valuable role
that wetlands
play in ecology by providing a host of direct benefits to
humans. These
benefits include acting as natural filters for pollution and
reducing the
extent of flooding. If restored, the wet meadow and open water
habitat of
Fairfield Marsh would provide feeding and nesting habitat for
waterfowl
such as mallard, blue-winged teal and gadwall. Wading birds
such as great
blue heron and egrets would gain sufficient areas to rest and
feed. The
loggerhead shrike, dickcissel, bobolink and eastern meadowlark
are a few of
the grassland dependent
birds that would benefit.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal
agency
responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish,
wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the
American
people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National
Wildlife Refuge
System comprising more than 500 national wildlife refuges,
thousands of
small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also
operates 66
national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field
stations. The
agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the
Endangered Species
Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally
significant
fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as
wetlands, and
helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It
also oversees
the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions
of dollars in
excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.

For more information about the programs and activities of the
U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service in the
Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region, please visit our homepage at:
http://www.fws.gov/r3pao/.

                              -FWS-



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