Cancellation Notice: This event will be rescheduled for a later date as the Cambridge Library has closed to address a maintenance issue and will remain closed until September 9th.
The League of Women Voters of the Mid-Shore is pleased to announce a public meeting with special guest-speaker Glenn A. Carowan, former manager of the Blackwater Refuge in Dorchester County (1989-2007) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Refuge Manager of the Year in 2006. Mr. Carowan will be talking about the Refuge System’s Comprehensive Conservation Planning Process, a process designed to produce a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) to guide the management of each U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuge over a 15 year period. This talk is timely given that the Blackwater Refuge CCP is now approaching 15 years of age. The talk will be on Sunday, Sept. 8 from 2-4 pm in the public meeting room at the Cambridge Branch of the Dorchester County Public Library.
The CCP is an important document which describes the goals, objectives, and strategies for improving refuge conditions—including the types of habitat the refuge will provide, partnership opportunities and management actions needed to achieve desired conditions. Mr. Carowan says “The highlight of my career was the completion of Blackwater Refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan…. I was extremely excited to afford the public the opportunity to have a voice in the future management of the refuge. But it was not just the opportunity to voice opinions and recommendations… it was the opportunity to develop a shared vision; to blend different social, cultural, and economic backgrounds and ideas into one united effort to move the refuge progressively forward in the 21st century.”
The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 required all refuges to complete a Comprehensive Conservation Plan by 2012. Blackwater Refuge was one of the first refuges in the Northeast Region to initiate planning; their process began in 2000 with over 20 public meetings. The planning team explored, deliberated, and evaluated all aspects of the refuge’s management, from future land-protection, cropland and forest management, marsh management, prescribed fire, public use and interpretation, law enforcement, etc. This collaborative process led to the identification of a host of issues. Mr. Carowan stated “I know at the time that the public and stakeholders believed they had really made a difference that would not only benefit the community but also the many wildlife species the refuge was established to protect. For the first time since I came to Blackwater in 1989, I felt there was a real sense of community pride.” Public consensus on the plan was reached on most issues by 2004, the draft CCP and environmental assessment was released in May of 2005, and the CCP was approved by the Director of Fish and Wildlife Service in September 2006. The document represents years of work among Federal and State agencies, local and regional officials and communities, conservation organizations, and user groups.
The Blackwater Refuge CCP is now approaching 15 years of age, and undoubtedly needs to be updated to reflect the many changes to its activities, programs, and issues over the years. Given that The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act also requires every refuge to revise their CCP every 15 years as necessary, now is the time to be sure this process continues to work to reflect our local interests. All individuals and organizations interested in the future of our natural resources, especially those under refuge management, are invited to hear how the comprehensive planning process works so your input can be optimized to reach your targeted goals. This talk should be of special interest to Dorchester County residents as the County is now updating its comprehensive planning process.
The meeting is free and open to the public; light refreshments will be served.
The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy.