Proposal to Expand Hunting Access at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Proposal to Expand Hunting Access at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

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By Kim Dolgin – In 1974, land and water acreage was set aside to create the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Renamed the Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, the Refuge straddles portions of the Nisqually River Delta and Nisqually Reach (an offshore area that includes areas of deeper water). The Delta is primarily composed of estuary, but also houses fresh water marshes, grassland, and both coniferous and deciduous forest. It forms one of the largest estuaries remaining on Puget Sound, is home to thousands of waterfowl and is a significant stopover point for migrating shorebirds. The Reach is prime habitat for juvenile salmon and forage fish and provides feeding grounds for grebes, loons, gulls, and alcids. Because of this, the Refuge has been recognized as one of Washington State’s Important Birding Areas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed opening an additional 380 acres of the BFJNNWR to hunting. (Currently 192 acres of Refuge land may be hunted in season; in addition, 625 acres of water adjacent to the Refuge may be hunted as well.) The proposed additional hunting area is north of and next to the area in which hunting is currently allowed and consists of water and tidelands that would be accessible only by boat. (See map below.)  Details of the proposal can be found on the Refuge’s website; alternatively, you can access the plan by clicking here:  https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/BFJ%20Nisqually%20NWR_Draft%20WF%20Hunt%20Plan_CX_CD_June%202019.pdf.

We wished to alert you to this proposed change because many of our members regularly visit the Refuge.  Public comments will be accepted only until July 8, 2019, and hence time is of the essence if you wish to make any opinion you might have considered before a final decision is made. Comments can be submitted in writing to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 100 Brown Farm Road, Olympia, WA, 98516, or by email to glynnis_nakai@nullaol.com. If you choose to write, please put “Hunt Plan Comment” on either your envelope or in the subject line of your email.