Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge proposes environmental education, interpretation opportunities

Public comment sought through mid-August of this year

National wildlife refuges across the country offer quality opportunities to connect with special places in a variety of ways. Before any activity can be allowed on a national wildlife refuge, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must first evaluate that use through a Compatibility Determination.

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is updating and re-evaluating to what extent and how environmental education and interpretation occurs on the refuge. The Refuge is seeking public comment on the re-evaluation of this use on the refuge.

The public is invited to review the draft compatibility determination document that includes the Refuge’s justification and analysis. The document was made available beginning July 18, 2023 and will be available for 30 days for public comment.

Environmental education and interpretation have been conducted on the refuge since it was established in the 1920s and were evaluated and found compatible in 2006. There are no use changes to these existing programs occurring under this re-evaluation, although this draft does identify potential construction of a new visitor contact station in the McGregor District of the refuge as a compatible use.

Environmental education and interpretation are priority public uses and provide unique experiences to visitors helping them to connect with nature and the natural ecosystem. These uses also help fulfill the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System and the purposes of the refuge.

The draft compatibility determination is available in print at the Refuge’s district offices. The draft compatibility determination is also available electronically on the refuge website at https://www.fws.gov/story/2023-07/environmental-education-and-interpreta....
Interested parties can also contact the Refuge at 507-494-6221 or stephanie_edeler@fws.gov to request either printed or electronic copies and provide comments. Those requesting a copy need to make the Refuge aware if they need the document in an alternative format.

Across the country, national wildlife refuges provide additional recreational opportunities for the public where it is compatible with refuge purposes. The refuge provides outstanding environmental education and interpretation opportunities due to the diversity of wildlife and habitat on the refuge, and the range of environmental issues faced. These uses bring an understanding and appreciation of the refuge and the Mississippi River. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service looks forward to hearing the public’s input by mid-August and moving to the next stage of review.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service is both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for its scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the people who make it happen, visit fws.gov.