Archery hunting only at Big Muddy refuge

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

ARROW ROCK -- The Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge will restrict hunting on the Jameson Island Unit of the refuge to archery only.

The reason for this change is to provide safer conditions for contractors working in the 1,870 acres of public land in the Missouri River flood plain. This refuge unit is adjacent to the historic community of Arrow Rock.

Previously the unit was open to all legal hunting methods, in accordance with state and federal codes. Other permitted activities such as hiking, fishing and nature observation will continue outside the immediate construction zone.

The immediate construction zone will be closed to all public access for safety reasons until the project is complete. Violation of the safety zone could result in prosecution. The Lewis and Clark Trail of Discovery will remain open.

During the next year, this refuge unit will undergo habitat improvement to reconnect the Missouri River with its flood plain. The Jameson Island Chute Project includes restoration of shallow water habitat through creation of a new side channel chute on the Missouri River. A contractor for the US Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District, will notch existing bank revetments and dikes, and excavate a 100-foot wide channel.

The side channel chute will wind north to south through the unit and be approximately 1.8 miles long. Grade control structures in the chute will allow some natural channel meandering, but will limit the scour of the chute's bank to less than 300 feet in width. The amount of flow diverted from the Missouri River will be less than 10-percent during navigation season.

Shallow, slower water provides, better habitat for many fishes, in particular the endangered pallid sturgeon.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations.

The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the federal aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

The Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge encompasses over 11,000 acres of public land in eight separate units in the Missouri River flood plain between Kansas City and St. Louis. The other seven units of the refuge will continue with all legal hunting methods allowed, except for a portion of the Boone's Crossing Unit which was already designated archery hunting only.

For further information about the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge visit the Web site at www.fws.gov/midwst/bigmuddy.

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