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.                                    


New York Peace Monument Receives Preservation Facelift

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park announced that the New York Peace Monument is currently receiving a long overdue preservation facelift.   This iconic Civil War memorial located within Point Park, atop Lookout Mountain, last received a thorough cleaning in 1988.  The monument was originally erected in 1907. Gordon Ponsford, a conservator from Acworth, ... (click for more)

Guided Walking Tour Of Snodgrass Hill/Horseshoe Ridge On May 2

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park invites the public to participate in a 2-hour, 2-mile guided walking tour of Snodgrass Hill/Horseshoe Ridge on Saturday, May 2, at 9:30 a.m. The tour will begin at the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center and caravan to Snodgrass Hill/Horseshoe Ridge. Officials said, "As the right flank of the Union army collapsed under the ... (click for more)

Prominent Business, Civic Leader, And Philanthropist Scotty Probasco Dies At 86

Prominent Chattanooga business, civic leader and philanthropist Scotty Probasco has died at the age of 86. Scotty, as he was affectionately greeted by most of Chattanooga, was known for his modesty, generosity, dependability, and unswerving loyalty. “Great work” was always on the tip of his tongue – a manifestation of his joyous humility. He was a man of high ideals, of kind ... (click for more)

River Flood Warning Issued For Lookout Creek

There has been a river flood warning issued for Lookout Creek. Here is the warning from the National Weather Service: THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PEACHTREE CITY HAS ISSUED A FLOOD WARNING FOR THE LOOKOUT CREEK NEAR NEW ENGLAND. FROM THIS MORNING UNTIL THIS AFTERNOON. AT 11AM SUNDAY THE STAGE WAS 11.7 FEET...AND RISING. FLOOD STAGE IS 12 FEET. THE CREEK WILL ... (click for more)

Proud Of Hometown Boy Turned Global Leader, Bob Corker

Time Magazine has it right.  Not only is Chattanooga’s own U.S. Senator Bob Corker one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” but he is probably now the most prominent leader in the history of our city.   At a time of extreme frustration with Washington and Congress in general, Bob continues to rise above the division and rancor to build consensus and solve ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Great Work, Ol’ Pro!

Years ago I was lucky enough to be the seatmate of Scotty Probasco on an airplane bound for somewhere and he taught me a word that has helped me be a much better person than I ever thought I could. We were already swell friends, since he’d watched me grow up at First Presbyterian Church every Sunday with his kids, and he liked some of the stuff I tried to write back then. So ... (click for more)