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USFWS to study creating wildlife refuge on Wisconsin-Illinois border

From the USFWS

-- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct a study to determine if the establishment of a national wildlife refuge in several counties along the Wisconsin and Illinois border between Milwaukee and Chicago would be appropriate.

The area authorized for consideration includes 10,000 to 30,000 acres within the Illinois counties of Lake and McHenry and the Wisconsin counties of Kenosha, Racine and Walworth.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Rowan Gould approved a Preliminary Project Proposal to study the feasibility of creating what is currently being called the Proposed Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.  The preliminary proposal is the first administrative step in the process of determining if establishing of a national wildlife refuge is appropriate.

More information on the proposed refuge and the process is available online at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/Hackmatack/index.html

The process began when a group of local citizens and organizations joined together and began promoting the idea of establishing a national wildlife refuge in the area. The governors of both states, along with local government groups and several Congressional members also requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service look into the possibility of establishing a national wildlife refuge.

“Creating a refuge would connect the dots of conserved lands in southeast Wisconsin and northern Illinois,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank. “Wisconsin is solidly behind this proposal.”

“This has great potential to create more outdoor recreational access opportunities, promote local tourism and jobs and re-connect urban and suburban communities with their outdoor heritage, all priorities for the State of Illinois,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller.

The next step in the process is to begin a detailed investigative and planning process which includes compliance with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other applicable laws, regulations and orders. The result of this process will be either an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement which will review several possible options -- from doing nothing to establishing a refuge—and recommend the best option.

While there is not a deadline for completion, it is likely to take two to three years to complete the process.

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