November 10, 2011

Delegation Urges Idahoans to Weigh in on Minidoka Refuge Plan

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers changes in use of Lake Walcott

Washington, D.C. - Members of Idaho's Congressional Delegation are urging Idahoans to make their feelings known concerning any changes at Lake Walcott on the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge.  This development comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which manages the National Wildlife Refuge System, is designing a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Minidoka Refuge, as mandated by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997. 

Idaho Senators Mike Crapo, Jim Risch and Idaho Representative Mike Simpson say the plan could result in changes for those who use the reservoir for everything from boating to swimming to other recreation.  The Delegation members also note that multiple-use management has long been a key element to having strong, positive relationships between the Idaho-based refuges and the members of the surrounding communities. 

"Idahoans should know a new plan is being crafted for Lake Walcott and they should offer the Service their input on the new plan," the Delegation said.  They added, "Idahoans have long cherished the recreational benefits of our public lands, and the best way for multiple uses to remain available is for the FWS to understand how important those activities are to local communities and small businesses.  Idahoans should express those sentiments through the CCP process."

Delegation members noted that the FWS will take public comments on the Minidoka Refuge plan through the end of this month and release a draft management plan late next year.  Comments can be sent to the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge, 961 E. Minidoka Dam Road, Rupert, Idaho 83550-9471 or e-mailed to FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov.  Please visit the official website to learn more about the CCP for the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge at http://www.fws.gov/minidoka/.