The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking the public to comment on its draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the future management of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.
Once it’s approved, the plan will guide the refuge’s management for 15 years, with the called-for actions to be implemented as funding becomes available.
The wildlife refuge includes the famous spit that is home to the New Dungeness Light Station.
Project leader Kevin Ryan said the proposal includes a few changes to the allowed public uses of the area.
Currently jogging is allowed on upland trails, the west beach and the first half mile of the spit; under the new rule it would be prohibited altogether. Dave Falzetti, refuge officer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, explained the change, saying the refuge is “set aside for wildlife.” He described jogging as “counterproductive to wildlife. Wildlife sees running people as predators.” He noted jogging is allowed within the adjacent Clallam County Dungeness Recreation Area.
Ryan said there also would be a change to the rules regarding horseback riding. Currently riding is allowed on weekdays from May 15-Sept. 30 each year and is allowed at any time during the rest of the year.
When the changes were first discussed in February of this year, the agency suggested it might reduce riding opportunities to weekdays throughout the year.
Ryan said that following a serious horseback riding accident in May, the agency is now recommending a ban on horseback riding.
The proposed public use changes also include new limits on boat landing hours.
Ryan said the proposed plan calls for a greater emphasis on “enhancing the public’s understanding and appreciation of the refuge’s natural and cultural resources.” That would be accomplished through both on- and off-refuge interpretation and education programs.
“There also would be more emphasis on working with existing partners and developing new partnerships to accomplish objectives,” Ryan added.
The full draft plan and the latest planning may be accessed online at www.fws.gov/pacific/planning.
Comments on the draft plan should be mailed, faxed or e-mailed by Dec. 27 to: Kevin Ryan, Project Leader, Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 715 Holgerson Road, Sequim, WA 98382; or e-mail FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Include Dungeness in the e-mail subject line.
Printed copies are available for review at the Sequim Library. Printed or CD-ROM copies can be requested from the Refuge Office at 457-8451.