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PLAN WOULD GUIDE MANAGEMENT OF STATE'S LARGEST WILDLIFE AREA COMPLEX

July 12, 2011

July 27 open house meeting will be held on draft management plan for
Sandhill, Meadow Valley and Wood County wildlife areas

EAU CLAIRE - Management of the Sandhill, Meadow Valley and Wood County wildlife areas would place continued emphasis on wetlands management and enhanced protection and improvement of high quality natural communities, which harbor rare and endangered species, under a management plan that will be the topic of an upcoming open house meeting.

The state Department of Natural Resources will hold the meeting to gather comments on a draft Master Plan and Environmental Assessment for the combined wildlife areas, which at more than 88,000 acres is the largest DNR-managed wildlife area in Wisconsin. Sandhill is 9,150-acre state owned wildlife area. Meadow Valley Wildlife Area, at 58,000 acres, is leased from the federal government and managed by the state DNR under an agreement with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The 21,000-acre Wood County Wildlife Area is under a long-term lease from Wood County.

The updated management plan is designed to guide management strategies on these properties for the next 15 years.

The open house will run from 4-7 p.m., Wednesday, July 27, at the Outdoor Skills Center at Sandhill, 1715 County X, Babcock. Anyone with an interest in these properties is encouraged to attend the meeting. DNR staff will be available to answer questions, provide information and accept public comments, and there will be informational displays.

The master plan describes proposed future land management strategies, recreational opportunities and boundary expansions. Highlights of proposed strategies include:

  • Continued emphasis on wetlands management, including emergent marsh communities, water level management and dike maintenance.
  • Enhanced protection and improvement of high quality natural communities that harbor rare and endangered species.
  • Property boundary expansions to improve future access and resource management. Expanded boundaries delineate areas within which land can be purchased from willing sellers if and when funds are available.
  • Continuation of Sandhill's popular public education and outdoor skills programs and important research projects.
  • Designation of ruffed grouse management areas. Aspen management will be the primary tool to focus efforts on improved grouse habitat within selected areas.
  • Camping on the Wood County and Meadow Valley wildlife areas will accommodate spring turkey and fall hunting seasons.
  • The actions proposed in the plan are not anticipated to significantly affect the quality of the human environment, would not significantly affect energy usage and do not involve unresolved conflicts in the use of available resources. The department has made a preliminary determination that the environmental impact process is not required for this master plan.

    The Master Plan and Environmental Assessment, along with maps and other background information, will be available for viewing at the meeting. They can also be viewed online at the Sandhill, Meadow Valley, and Wood County Wildlife Areas master planning pages of the DNR website.

    Those without access to the Internet may view copies of the draft plan and assessment at the Sandhill Wildlife Area, at the Eau Claire or Wisconsin Rapids Service Centers, or at the public libraries in Wisconsin Rapids, Pittsville and Necedah.

    Comments or questions about these documents can be offered at the public meeting, submitted online at the above website, or sent by mail to Neal Paisley, PO Box 156, Babcock, WI 54413; or by phone at (715) 884-6332; or email at Raymond.Paisley@Wisconsin.gov. The DNR will receive comments through Friday, August 12, 2011.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Neal Paisley - (715) 884-6332 or Ed Culhane, DNR communications, Eau Claire, 715-781-1683

    Last Revised: Tuesday, July 12, 2011




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