*New National Wildlife Refuge Proposed to Help Protect Paint Rock River

In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt created the first National Wildlife
Refuge to protect brown pelican breeding grounds on the east coast of
Florida. The refuge system has since grown to 560 refuges across the
nation, and now the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposes establishing one
to protect streams and hardwood forests in the Paint Rock River watershed.
Fully realized, it would cover about 25,120 acres of streams, riparian
areas, and upland hardwood forests in Franklin County, Tennessee.

The proposed establishment of a National Wildlife Refuge in the Paint Rock
River watershed is one of two America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) priorities
identified in Tennessee in the AGO’s November 2011 Fifty-State Report. This
project also has the support of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and aligns
with several AGO goals, including large landscape conservation, enhanced
river access, and support for creative public-private partnerships.

The Service has identified a conservation partnership area, including areas
along Estill Fork, Hurricane Creek, and Larkin Fork, with a total area of
approximately 40,505 acres. Within this conservation partnership area, the
Service will reach out to landowners to gauge their interest in stream and
forest conservation, ranging from willing landowners selling their property
to receiving technical assistance to help manage habitat on their property.
Within the 40,505 acres, the Service is authorized to acquire in fee-title
or hold conservation easements on approximately 25,120 acres. The future
configuration and acreage of the refuge would depend on such factors as the
willingness of landowners and the availability of funds.

The Paint Rock River and its tributaries are known for their high aquatic
diversity, which includes numerous mussels and fish, several of which are
threatened with extinction. Much of the upper watershed is still forested,
which has contributed to the relatively good water quality. Large tracts of
forest support a variety of migratory birds, in addition to an abundance of
game species.

The Service anticipates that much of a future refuge would be open for
wildlife-based recreation, including hunting, fishing, photography, bird
watching, and environmental education.

The Service is currently seeking public input on the proposed refuge.
People can e-mail comments to [email protected]; mail comments to U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service, 2700 Refuge Headquarters Rd. Decatur, AL 35603; or
telephone comments to (256) 353-7243. The Service is also hosting an open
house to receive comments and answer questions:

February 5, 2013, 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Franklin County Public
Library in Winchester, Tennessee

For more information, visit: www.fws.gov/southeast/paintrockriver


*Tom R. MacKenzie*
Media Relations Specialist and Native American Liaison
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Southeast Region
1875 Century Blvd Ste 410
Atlanta, GA 30345-3319
404-679-7291 Fax:404-679-7286 Cell: 678-296-6400
[email protected]