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Refuge Seeks Input on Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to re-open Bayside Wildlife Drive for public vehicle access on Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, has prepared a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) proposing to re-open Bayside Wildlife Drive with certain improvements to address concerns over ocelot-vehicle collisions on this wildlife drive.  The public is being invited to review this document. 

The proposed action is to decide whether or not the environmental consequences of any of the alternatives would be significant and require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), or decide to prepare a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the selected alternative.  Bayside Wildlife Drive was closed in 2013 due to concerns over ocelot-vehicle collisions which also resulted in a 34% visitation decline.  However, consistent with refuge comprehensive planning objectives, the refuge is analyzing various alternatives to balance the need for visitor access to this popular wildlife auto tour while protecting the refuge’s population of federally and state endangered ocelots.

The purpose of the EA is to consider a reasonable range of alternatives that meet the purpose and need for the proposed action. Based on the issues, concerns, and opportunities raised during the public and internal scoping process, the following alternatives are being considered:  A) to keep the Bayside Wildlife Drive closed to public motor vehicles but allow access only to hikers, bicyclists, and seasonal refuge-operated tours; B) to re-open a portion of the Bayside Wildlife Drive to public autos with improvements to protect ocelots; and C) keep the drive closed to public motor vehicles but make improvements to the wildlife drive while still only allowing access by hiking, biking, or seasonal refuge-operated tours. 

The Refuge is announcing the availability of the documents to the public.  The review period is open until Friday, October 6, 2017.  A copy of the draft EA will be available for review at the Refuge headquarters and at: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/laguna_atascosa

The public can contact the Refuge regarding these documents by writing: Refuge Manager, Laguna Atascosa NWR, 22817 Ocelot Road, Los Fresnos, TX 78566; or may e-mail boyd_blihovde@fws.gov.  *Please put “EA/Bayside Wildlife Drive” in the subjectlineof the email.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

- http://www.southwest.fws.gov -

 

 

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