From: Associated Press
Published October 26, 2004 12:00 AM

United States Gets a New Wildlife Refuge

ST. PAUL, Minnesota — A 35,000-acre tallgrass prairie and wetland area near Crookston, Minnesota, has been designated the country's newest national wildlife refuge by U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

Eventually, the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge is expected to become a major breeding ground for prairie chickens, sandhill cranes, and other wildlife as well as a natural garden for the endangered western prairie fringed orchid.

The nation's 545th refuge designation comes after a four-year review of the proposal, and it links 12 existing conservation areas. Refuges are a national network of lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conserve, manage, and restore wildlife.

Hunting, fishing and other activities are allowed on wildlife refuges.

Most of the land, about 24,000 acres, is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. The organization is donating about 2,000 acres to the Fish and Wildlife Service now and will donate or sell the rest of the land to the federal government over the next decade.

The rest of the land belongs to the state or private landowners and will be acquired only if the landowner wants to sell.

Over the last 30 years, much of the refuge area has been drained or converted to agriculture. One of the goals of the project is to restore 12,000 acres of wetlands and 14,000 acres of tallgrass prairie.

Source: Associated Press

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