Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge and Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail Plans

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has committed to complete the Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge.

The planning process started in 2007, and the first promised date for public review of the draft was April 2008.  Now the Federal agency says “the draft CCP will be released for public review and comment before the end of the year with mid-November being the expected timeframe.” For 30 months, the agency has delayed the planning process for a variety of reasons.

The grand mystery: what’s so complicated about opening up this publicly-owned wildlife refuge to the – ugh, public?   For 40 years, the Fish and Wildlife Service has kept the place closed to fishing, bird watching, and walking along the shoreline of the Potomac River.

The action plan for the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order makes clear that it is Federal policy to expand and maintain public access within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  The National Park Service is already accepting public comments on their draft plan for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, which was designated by Congress only in 2006.  Deadline to comment is November 5 – and feel free to suggest Featherstone should be a jewel on the John Smith trail, rather than locked up forever.

Unless the Fish and Wildlife Service can document that wildlife-dependent recreation is not compatible with the purpose of the Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge, a decision to open these 325 acres of public land to public use ought to be a no-brainer.

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