Feds extend public comment period on conservation draft plan

Farm Forum

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Park Service (NPS) have reopened the public comment period on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) and land protection plan (LPP) for the proposed Niobrara Confluence and Ponca Bluffs Conservation Areas. These conservation areas are proposed to build on existing conservation efforts along the Missouri River in northeast Nebraska and southeast South Dakota. This voluntary project would work with willing private landowners, local communities, and other conservation entities to conserve important wildlife habitats, increase high quality recreational opportunities, preserve sensitive cultural sites, and maintain sustainable farming and ranching operations in the region. This project does not propose to modify any existing regulations or alter dam operations, but does provide a conservation tool for a landowner to consider.

All interested persons are encouraged to visit the project website (http://bit.ly/11Mf6Yf) to learn more or to provide comments. Hard copies of the draft plan will be available at the Spencer, Niobrara, Yankton, and Vermillion libraries for viewing. Individuals may also contact our local project coordinator, Wayne Nelson-Stastny, to visit one-on-one about the project. Wayne will also be available to meet with individuals and groups throughout this planning process.

The FWS and NPS will gather public input as part of public comment period until September 30. All comments received before then will be included in the decision making process for consideration by the NPS and FWS during completion of the final environmental impact statement.

For more information or to provide comments, contact:

· Wayne Nelson-Stastny, Local Project Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 55245 NE Hwy 121, Crofton, NE 68730, 605-660-5349.

· Steve Thede, Superintendent, National Park Service, Missouri National Recreational River, 508 East 2nd Street, Yankton, SD 57078, 605-665-0209.