Sierran Masthead

Letters Needed Now in Support of Refuge

June 20 is the deadline for public comment on the Grand Kankakee Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. "Our letters are making a difference! We must keep this effort up," said Susan Thomas, Director of the Hoosier Chapter's Wetlands Project. Helping make the refuge a reality is a goal of the Chapter's 1998 Clean Water Conservation Campaign.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a 30,000-acre refuge for the Kankakee River in Indiana and Illinois. The Service's Draft Environmental Assessment was released in March, and the original 30-day comment period was extended to allow for additional public input. "The proposal has generated considerable interest in the Kankakee River watershed," said David Hudak, field supervisor of the Service's Bloomington office. "Extending the comment period continues our commitment to providing as much opportunity as possible for the public to participate in this project."

The refuge would buy land from willing sellers only. The Service would work with property owners and officials to create the refuge without harming private property.

The Grand Kankakee Marsh was once one of the richest habitats in North America, spanning 500,000 acres from South Bend to a natural limestone dam in Momence, Illinois. The marsh, filled for agricultural use, originally contained thousands of acres of hardwood swamp, grassy marsh, and dense peat bogs.

The Service has five proposals for the refuge. Alternative 1 is no action. Alternative 2 would focus on wetland restoration along the river's main stem. Alternative 3 would center on grassland and savanna habitats. Alternative 4 would focus on enhancing endangered and threatened species. Alternative 5 is the Service's preferred alternative and the hybrid scenario. It incorporates concerns listed in Alternatives 2, 3, and 4 and gives the Service the most flexibility to achieve the proposal's goals. This alternative is supported by Sierrans and other state conservationists.

The hybrid plan would also be the most beneficial to the region's economy, increasing personal income, business revenue, and jobs over the 20 to 30 years needed to build the refuge, according to the Purdue University Economic Impact Analysis of the proposal.

A summary of the proposal can be viewed at www.fws.gov/r3pao/ext_affr/news_rel/kankakee.html.

"There is organized opposition to the refuge. The comment period will make or break the refuge," said Susan Thomas.

Use This Sample as a Guide for Your Own Letter

This letter can be used as a guide when writing to support the Grand Kankakee Marsh National Wildlife Refuge proposal. Use your own words and write about points for which you feel most strongly. A brief letter (even one paragraph) is sufficient.

I am writing to support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 30,000-acre Grand Kankakee Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

I know that the Grand Kankakee Marsh once was a large natural area that provided habitat for plants and animals, purified drinking water, and helped control flooding. I understand that most of the marsh has been destroyed. I support the Service's proposal to establish a wildlife refuge along the Kankakee River to help protect and to restore a portion of this unique region. This project will benefit people in the state, support wildlife habitat, protect drinking water, and reduce some of the area's flooding and erosion problems.

Thank you.

(your name and address)

Send your letters to:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, David Hudak-Project Manager, 620 S. Walker St., Bloomington, IN 47403
Sen. Lugar, Sen. Coats; 306 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable (your U.S. Representative's name), U.S. House of Representatives, 326 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515
Gov. O'Bannon, State House, Rm. 206, Indianapolis, IN 46204
(Your State Legislators), Indiana House (or Indiana Senate), State House, Indianapolis, IN 46204


Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[6/28/02]efp

Summer 1998