CHATHAM – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe issued a statement Wednesday saying he was disappointed that the town is seeking federal legislation to resolve the dispute over the western boundary of the Monomoy Wildlife Refuge.
The Fish and Wildlife Service worked “tirelessly” with the town to develop the comprehensive conservation plan for the refuge, he said, resolving significant differences through the process.
“That’s why it’s especially disappointing to me that legislation has been introduced regarding an ownership dispute,” Ashe said. “Typically, such disputes are resolved through the courts, and I believe that is the appropriate forum in this case too, rather than legislation that merely feeds into the general assault underway on our public lands across the nation.
“Any effort to diminish the benefit of public lands to all Americans or remove lands or management authority from the public's National Wildlife Refuge System is of tremendous concern to me," he said.
Town and Fish and Wildlife officials have been working on a memorandum of understanding to try to address the issue of jurisdiction over the 3,000-plus acres of open waters and submerged lands west of the refuge. While town officials see that as a temporary solution, to maintain traditional management by the town and state, they sought the legislation through Rep. William Keating to formalize their position that the original 1944 taking of the refuge did not include those waters. Litigation, town officials have said, is an option, but they prefer not to go in that direction due to the expense and length of time such a case is likely to take.
Read more about the legislation in this story in this week's edition.