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GLIN==> U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Trial Review Will Benefit





                               NEWS RELEASE
                      U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
                      Great Lakes - Big Rivers Region
                          http://midwest.fws.gov

For Immediate Release         Contact:  Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 203
May 25, 2001                  E-mail:  Georgia_Parham@fws.gov
EA 01-32                 Bradley Johnson 612-713-5131


      U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Trial Review Will Benefit
           Habitat, Hunters at Some State Fish and Wildlife Areas

Results of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program audit of field trials
at state fish and wildlife areas will mean improved wildlife habitat and
increased hunting opportunities at some areas.  A Service report to the
Indiana Department of Natural Resources outlines measures that will help
the state modify the way in which some field trials are conducted on state
fish and wildlife areas acquired, developed or managed using Federal Aid
program funding. These modifications will improve habitat, reduce
recreational-use conflicts and make available additional areas or
opportunities for hunting during legal seasons.

The report shows that field trials, while a legitimate use of public lands,
at some state fish and wildlife areas are interfering with the purposes for
which the lands were acquired.   The Service concluded that some field
trials, particularly those that are conducted on horseback over large areas
for an extended time, can disrupt hunting on the properties, damage
wildlife habitat, and direct staff time away from managing the areas for
their primary purpose: the benefit of fish and wildlife. The Service, a
Federal agency, conducted the study because these lands were purchased,
developed or managed with Federal grant funds through the Service's Federal
Aid in Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs.

"The Service recognizes the popularity of field trials and the high
interest among field trial participants in pursuing their sport on public
lands," said Bill Hartwig, director of the Service's Great Lake-Big Rivers
region. "However, the Service has a responsibility to ensure that these
lands purchased with Federal Aid funds are managed for the benefit of
wildlife resources."

Horseback field trials are competitions in which hunting dogs locate
pen-reared game birds in the field, with handlers, judges and spectators
following along on horses. These events can require large areas of land and
extensive work to prepare and maintain courses and trails.  They may last
from a few days to two weeks.  Winamac in northern Indiana and Glendale in
southern Indiana are the two state fish and wildlife areas where horseback
field trials are most commonly held.  Other types of field trials take
place at Tri-County and Pigeon River state fish and wildlife areas in
northern Indiana.

Of particular concern were horseback field trials at Glendale, where heavy
trail use by horses leads to soil erosion and runoff into 1,400-acre
Dogwood Lake, a popular fishing spot.  Turbidity, sedimentation, and
siltation in the lake degrades aquatic habitat.

The report also concluded that some field trial participants received
preferential treatment through exclusive use of clubhouse facilities, horse
barns, and bird pens.  Construction of these facilities on land purchased,
developed or managed with federal grant funds was not in compliance with
grant rules and regulations, the report found.

Corrective actions outlined by the Service in its report include
discontinuing field trials on state fish and wildlife areas when they
interfere with legal hunting seasons, legal fishing seasons, and other
accepted wildlife-related uses.  Field trials must also be discontinued
when they are primarily commercial in nature, disrupt breeding and nesting
activity, or damage wildlife habitat.  In addition, facilities constructed
for the exclusive use of field trial participants are to be converted to
uses that support fish and wildlife management on the area.

The Service did not recommend discontinuing all field trials.  Many smaller
trials require less area and are not intended as commercial events, do not
interfere with hunting and fishing, and do not result in damage to habitat.
The Service report concluded that in the future all proposed field trial
activity will be reviewed for compliance with federal grant rules and
regulations.

"Small field trials, in which people bring their dogs to prepare for
hunting seasons, and those that are not commercial in nature, are not as
likely to affect fish and wildlife resources or availability of these areas
to hunters and anglers," Hartwig said.

The Service review of field trials on state properties in Indiana was
mandated by an independent audit which examined all aspects of the state's
activities under the Federal Aid program.  The audit was conducted by the
Defense Contract Audit Agency in 1997 and 1998.  As a result of the audit,
the Service was required to develop a Corrective Action Plan for the
Interior Department's Office of the Inspector General.  The Service agreed
to conduct a thorough review of field trial activity on state fish and
wildlife areas purchased, managed, or developed using Federal Aid grant
funds.

The U.S. Congress,  in its passage of the of the Federal Aid Improvement
Act of 2000 provided guidance regarding field trials that was followed
during preparation of the Indiana Corrective Action Plan.  To address the
Congressional concerns on a national basis, the Service has developed
interim guidelines. "The Corrective Action Plan is an example of a state
plan that is very responsive to the interim field trial guidelines and the
language on field trials contained in the report from the U.S. Senate,"
said Hartwig.

 In accordance with these guidelines, the IDNR is implementing the
Corrective Action Plan defined in the Indiana field trial report.

"Indiana's wildlife biologists agree with the Service's findings.  We see
an immediate need for modifying field trial activities on our fish and
wildlife areas to better protect our wildlife resources," said Gary
Doxtater, director of the IDNR's Division of Fish and Wildlife. Because
state properties were purchased, developed, or are managed by the state
using federal money, the state must comply with federal regulations and
laws governing management and recreational use at these sites.
Implementation of corrective actions will ensure that Indiana continues to
receive annual apportionments from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration
and Sport Fish Restoration programs, which in recent years have ranged from
$5.3 million to $6.8 million annually.

Federal Aid funds for the Wildlife Restoration program are generated from
excise taxes on sport hunting equipment including guns, ammunition, and
archery gear .  Federal Aid funds from the Sport Fish Restoration program
are generated from excise taxes on fishing equipment and a sales tax on
motor boat fuel.  Revenues are then distributed each year by the Service
through grants to state wildlife agencies for approved wildlife and sport
fish restoration projects. Apportionments to states are based on the
state's land area and number of licensed hunters and anglers. Funds are
generally used by states to purchase land for fish and wildlife management,
to fund research programs, and for specific fish and wildlife restoration
efforts.

The complete report and other information may be viewed on the Service's
Region 3 website at http://midwest.fws.gov/audit/

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 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands
of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70
national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices 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 fish and wildlife agencies.

For further information about the programs and activities of the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service in the Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region, please visit our
home page at:  http://midwest.fws.gov

                                   -FWS-


  Our mission is working with others to conserve , protect, and enhance,
fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit to
                           the American people.




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