U.S. Sens. Tom Carper, Chris Coons and Congressman John Carney (all D-Del.), wrote to Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Ken Salazar to urge his department to conclude the Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex County, Delaware, originally due to be completed in 2007.
The letter highlights the urgent need for the completion of the long-awaited CCP, which will include critical short and long-term goals for the future of this valuable natural resource.
A copy of the letter follows:
March 16, 2012
The Honorable Ken Salazar
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20240
Dear Secretary Salazar:
More than six years ago the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began its federally mandated Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex County, Delaware. The original goal of the Service was to release a draft plan in the summer of 2007 and yet as we approach the summer of 2012, we find ourselves sympathetic to the many frustrated neighbors, state officials and interested parties who have yet to review even a draft plan.
In the interim, Prime Hook has undergone significant changes to its diverse and ecologically valuable fresh and saltwater impoundments. Time is of the essence in moving forward with a plan for this Refuge. As you are aware, some of the changes to the Refuge include breaches to the dune system; loss of sediment accretion; significant flooding of sensitive habitat, the community of Prime Hook Beach and the community's sole access road. Efforts to develop short or long-term plans to manage these ecological changes have been stymied by the delay in releasing the CCP.
We are writing today to express our strong desire for an expeditious conclusion to this extraordinarily lengthy CCP process. It is our understanding that there are six public meetings scheduled in early May, 2012 and that regional staff will be available to assist local personnel in implementing these sessions that will include a review of hunting, habitat and wildlife observation programs. Following the public meetings and comment period, there is a required review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is imperative that your federal partners are aware of the need to review, and if necessary, revise, the CCP in a timely manner. We hope you can be of assistance in communicating our concerns in this regard.
Clearly a refuge system as ecologically diverse as Prime Hook will benefit from this deliberative and thoughtful planning process -- one that includes sound science, community participation and a long term vision that will sustain this national treasure for generations to come. In its draft Vision Statement from 2006, Prime Hook NWR positioned itself as "a leader in conservation, research and community partnerships, adapting to physical and community changes as necessary to maintain the ecological integrity and build a stewardship ethic for current and future generations."
With the Refuge's vision as our guide, we remain confident that USFWS leadership will agree that there is too much time invested in this CCP process, and anything but a successful conclusion would be a disservice to all who have been involved.
Thomas R. Carper
United States Senator
Christopher A. Coons
United States Senator
John C. Carney, Jr.
Member of Congress