A proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge is under way.
The plan is to expand the Refuge north and south of the existing boundaries along the river – a 15-mile northern stretch to a point west of Manteca, and a 26-mile length to the south whose area would include portions of the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge and the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in the Merced and Stanislaus counties.
“The proposed expansion presents a unique conservation opportunity to restore and enhance a major migratory corridor through the center of California to benefit the birds of the Pacific Flyway and numerous other wildlife species,” the Fish and Wildlife Service explains on its website at http://www.fws.gov/cno/refuges/sanjoaquin/SJRNWRFactSheet1.pdf.
The expansion, if realized, would also eventually “connect the Refuge with the Grasslands Ecological Area, a 160,000-acre mosaic of Central Valley floor habitats located in the historic floodplain of the San Joaquin River.”
In connection with this plan to enlarge the existing refuge area, the Fish and Wildlife Service is offering two opportunities for the public to ask questions, get answers, as well as provide input into the proposal. These open houses are being held:
•today, Nov. 28, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Hampton Inn Suites at 103 E. Louise Avenue in Lathrop on the east side of the Interstate 5 northbound onramp, and,
•Thursday, Nov. 29, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the River Partners Office, 912 Eleventh St., Suite LL2, in Modesto.
Printed copies of the draft documents are available at the Cesar Chavez Central Library in Stockton, as well as in the San Joaquin County Public Libraries in Lathrop and Tracy, as well as the Stanislaus Library in Modesto.
More information is also available by visiting the above web site of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The planning process is expected to be completed in approximately 18 months.