Public Meetings Scheduled For Expansion Of Acquisition Boundaries Of Chickasaw And Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuges

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces additional public meetings for the Draft Land Protection Plan and Environmental Assessment which describe a proposal to  expand the acquisition boundaries of the Chickasaw and Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuges in western Tennessee. 

At the request of elected officials, the Service has re-opened the public comment period and will hold two more public meetings to provide additional opportunities for the public to learn more about the refuge proposal and to provide comments. 

The public meetings will be held  on Tuesday, April 29, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the Ripley Technology Center, 127 Industrial Drive, in Ripley, Tn., 38063; and on Wednesday, April 30, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, 121 W Main Street, in Brownsville, Tn., 38012.   

After two public scoping meetings held in December 2012, the service released a draft Land Protection Plan and accompanying Environmental Assessment and opened the first 45-day public comment period on Feb. 11.  The service held a public meeting on Feb. 19, in Ripley, Tn., attended by about 86 people. 

The service received letters and written comments from more than a dozen individuals and organizations during and after the meeting.  Comments on the proposal, both verbal and written, ranged from support to opposition. Concerns were expressed about the potential economic effects of refuge expansion, the question of fee-title purchases versus conservation easements, and the use of condemnation to acquire properties within the proposed boundary expansion.

“We welcome the opportunity to clear up any misconceptions about the project that may be lingering or to simply meet a refuge neighbor,” said Randy Cook, project leader. “I also want to reiterate that if this proposal is approved, we would only be working with willing sellers or willing landowners interested in conservation easements.  There would be no taking of anyone’s  land.”

Public input on the proposal will continue to guide the service through the planning process.  The service will collect and consider the public’s comments on the alternatives in the draft plan and will use that input to help develop a final plan which will then be submitted to the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for final consideration.

The Mississippi River has been cut off from more than 90% of its floodplain, disrupting critical ecosystem processes that provide services to wildlife and humans, including flood abatement, fish spawning, nutrient and sediment trapping, and improvement of water quality.  This project would protect an additional 38,127 acres of unleveed Mississippi floodplain and conserve the floodplain of the Hatchie River, the largest forested floodplain in Tennessee.  Over 90 percent of the proposed expansion lies within the five-year floodplains of the Mississippi and Hatchie Rivers, which regularly flood the proposed expansion areas. The project would protect habitat along more than 49 miles of the Mississippi River and over 106 miles of the Hatchie River.

The proposed boundary expansion area would be managed to restore and protect fish and wildlife habitats and provide additional opportunities for public use including; hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, and environmental interpretation and education. This proposed expansion area could ultimately connect the Hatchie, Lower Hatchie, and Chickasaw NWRs with JohnTully Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Fort Pillow State Park, and John Tully State Forest.  This project is the result of many years of collaborative strategic habitat conservation planning with the Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, private conservation organizations, academic institutions, and local stakeholders.   

If the proposal is approved, funding for any type of acquisition will be from non traditional tax revenue sources including the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 

For more information about the proposal, visit: www.fws.gov/southeast/news/ChickasawExpansionBrochApril.pdf

To download a copy of the Draft Plan and Environmental Assessment, visit:  http://www.fws.gov/southeast/planning/PDFdocsLandAcquisition/ChickasawDraftLPPEA/Draft_LPP_EA_Formatted.pdf

Comments can be sent to: Tom Greene, Natural Resource planner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 61389 Hwy. 434, Lacombe, La., 70445,chickasawlowerhatchieexpansion@fws.gov985-882-2020.                                    


Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga: Outdoor Chattanooga Featured Event Fireside at Greenway  Oct. 30 Erin Medley and a starry night Outdoor Chattanooga will finish our 2014 Fireside at Greenway Farm series with a special evening of guitar folk and stargazing this Thurs., Oct. 30, 7 ... (click for more)

Governor Haslam Dedicates Trail At Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area

Governor Haslam joined staff from the Tennessee Division of Natural Areas, Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation last Friday to dedicate a new trail at Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area. “Tennessee has incredible natural areas that offer something for everyone, and this partnership will help protect and preserve these lands for future generations ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex That Brought $3 Million Profit Exempt From Most Taxes Until 2022 Under PILOT

A downtown Chattanooga apartment complex that recently was sold at a $3 million profit is exempt from most property taxes through 2022 under a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.   No payment of school taxes was included in the deal for Walnut Commons at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way.   The only taxes due on the property for the next eight ... (click for more)

Cold, Wet Front To Make For Chilly And Damp Trick Or Treating; Snow Showers Possible Saturday

A surge of cold, moist air will make for less-than-ideal trick or treat conditions on Halloween night. Temperatures are expected to dip below freezing this weekend. There is a possibility of snow showers in Chattanooga on Saturday. Here is the latest forecast: Today Showers likely, mainly after 5pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 58. Calm wind becoming northwest ... (click for more)

Thanks For Publishing The Stokes Photo Book

I pre-ordered the Stokes Photo Book and picked it up Wednesday . The covers and content are very high quality and contain photos you will not see anywhere else.  This book of photos is worth much more than $35.  I have seen many historic photos of my hometown Chattanooga, but this collection is amazing. My favorites are National Cemetery, Confederate Cemetery near ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Saban: ‘Ratings Don’t Matter’

When the first College Football Playoff rankings were released earlier this week, Alabama football coach Nick Saban got it right on the button when he shrugged, “I don't even care, to be honest with you." "To me, none of it matters, What does it matter?” he laughed at the Tide’s No. 6 ranking. “I mean, it only matters where you end up at the end. So what matters to us is how ... (click for more)