Friday, August 1, 2003
Hunting proposed for Great Meadows' O'Rourke Land
A draft 15-year management plan for three area U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges, including Great Meadows, has just arrived. There are many good, positive proposed management activities in the plan such as those designed to better document and understand the plant and animal communities in the refuges, to increase habitat value by management of invasive and overabundant plant and animal species, to investigate and preserve any ancient archeological sites and to provide better public outreach. A copy is available for viewing in the Carlisle Conservation Commission office and in the Gleason Public Library.
There are some important changes, however, that directly affect Carlisle's portion of the Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge. Although coupled with ample public notice, hunting from boats is being proposed for waterfowl and woodcock in the stretch of the Concord River north of Concord, in the towns of Bedford, Carlisle and Billerica to the Rt. 4 bridge. Additionally proposed is bow-hunting for deer in the O'Rourke parcel in Carlisle, west of the public trail. Fees for hunting as well as user fees for the refuges (but not in Carlisle) are planned. It will be necessary for a hunter to acquire a special permit from the refuge headquarters in Sudbury.
Recreation activities consistent with the wildlife refuge objectives will still be allowed, such as hiking, snow-shoeing and x-c skiing on established trails. Continuing to be disallowed will be biking, horseback riding and motorized vehicle travel as well as dog- walking and picnicking. An allowed activity under study for future removal is jogging. Also proposed in this plan would be establishment of an outdoor classroom site at the O'Rourke farm.
It is important to note that the O'Rourke land is best accessed by the public including deer hunters by traveling along the public trails of the Foss Farm and Greenough Conservation lands. As of now, the Maple Street entrance is only a service road and is not open to the public.
The public comment period on this proposed Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) has begun, and the public comment period will close on September 3. CCPs are 15-year management plans mandated by Congress, and the current CCP process for all refuges in the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex began in 1999, and public input was sought during the scoping period in 1999 and 2000. See the press release below for information on open houses being held by the Fish and Wildlife Service in August.
Comments on the Draft CCP/EA may also be submitted by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (please refer to Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex in the subject line) or in writing to: Lindsay Krey, Planning Team Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley Massachusetts 01035.
© 2003 The