Noxubee News

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First Scoping Meeting in Noxubee

Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee NWR Starts Process of Revising New Comprehensive Conservation Plan

The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 requires each national wildlife Refuge to prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) every 15 years. The refuge completed its

first plan and the development of the new plan is a 2-year process with the final plan adoption expected by December 2014.

The CCP is a 15-year Refuge management plan that serves the Purposes of the Refuge, describes the desired future conditions

of the Refuge, provides consistency and continuity and provides long-range guidance and management direction. The Purposes of the refuge are to service as a breeding and inviolate sanctuary for migratory birds, and to conserve, manage and restore fish, wildlife and plant resources.

As part of the CCP development process Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee Refuge held three public meetings in January 2013, one each in Winston, Oktibbeha, and Noxubee Counties. These meetings were to obtain

Issue ‘I Sarina 2013

public input on priority issues, ideas, or concerns. These initial comments will help mold the revision of the CCP and each will be addressed in the draft document. An initial draft is scheduled for release in about a year (February 2014) and will be available for public review and comment at that time. Comments received will be addressed or incorporated into the final CCP.

We hope to have a plan that will: provide a clear statement regarding the management of the Refuge for the next 15 years;

Provide Refuge neighbors, visitors, the public and government officials with an understanding of Refuge management actions on and around the Refuge; Ensure that the Refuge’s management actions are consistent with the mandates of the National Wildlife Refuge System; and provide a basis for the development of budget requests on the Refuge’s operational, maintenance, and capital improvement needs.

For more information on the Refuge, CCPs,

or to view adopted plans visit: http://www. fws.gov/southeast/p|anning.

Second scoping meeting held in VWnston County



www _ _ Lin-_ - Youth Squirrel Hunt

On February 9, 2013, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, the U. S.

Fish and Wildlife Service, Mississippi State University Extension Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, and the Mississippi Wildlife Federation partnered to promote youth in the outqoors. A partnership, that began 8 years ago on Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee NWR, has been expanded throughout the State of Mississippi. Seven different locations statewide hosted 107 young people between the ages of 10 and 15 years of age for this year’s special squirrel hunt. Prior to the hunt, each participant learned about conservation, safety, and received instruction on marksmanship. After the lessons learned, the youth were separated into teams and guided into the woods for a new experience. To facilitate

the hunts, local hunters with dogs volunteered their time and expertise to increase the hunters’ success. After the hunts, the youths learn how to prepare their harvests and enjoyed a nice meal with the partners. Twenty~one youths attended the event at Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee NWR and harvested 15 squirrels and one raccoon during the afternoon hunt. Squirrel hunting with dogs is an exceiient way to expose new young people to the outdoors.

Refuge to Host NCCC Team This Spring

The Refuge and Natchez Trace Parkway will host a 10 person ñre crew from the AmeriCorps NCCC (Natjenal Civilian Community Corps) based out of Vicksburg Mississippi to assist with prescribed burning along with other duties starting March 19 through the middle of April.

AmeriCorps NCCC is part of AmeriCorps, a network of national and community service programs that engage 75,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet critical needs in the areas of natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, energy conservation and urban and rural development. The NCCC is a team-based, full time, residential program for men and women

between the ages of 18 and 24. Members are

based at regionai campuses in several states.

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Bald Eagle Nest Status

The pair of Bald Eagles near the Deer Check Station is nesting in the same nest as last year. They started later than expected - it seems each yearthey get later. Along with building on the nest it seems they have two levels. Currently they are sitting as if on eggs, or at least we hope.

Our second pair of nesting Bald Eagles discovered in October 2011, nested early this season and have been seen coming and going in the northern corner of the closed area known ás the Prisock Field Moist-soil Unit of the Jones Creek Unit. Two conñrmed hatchlings fledged last year. We don’t

yet have a sighting of any hatch|ing(s) this year.



When the Smoke Clears What is the Benefit?

Prescribed tires are intentionally set under controlled conditions to achieve specitic management objectives; the use of prescribed

ñre is widely accepted as a primary tool for

habitat restoration and management. Noxubee NWR uses prescribed burning as a management tool for ecosystem management, wildlife habitat enrichment, forest health and/or fuel management. The primary purpose for prescribed burning on the Refuge is to maintain or enhance the endangered red-cookaded woodpecker habitat. Many other species, which prefer open pine habitat with herbaceous ground cover, will benefit from use

of this management tool. Prescribed ñres are typically most beneticial when they mimic natural tire patterns in ecosystems that evolve with tires as a natural disturbance.

Weather conditions that influence tire behavior such as humidity, temperature, and wind typically vary seasonally. Depending on the time of year, vegetation will have more or less moisture content, which influences a plant’s flammability and

tolerance to the heat of a ñre. "Plant growth stage is also an important consideration for timing a burn treatment because there may be an ideal time during the phenological development of a target plant species when the application of tire will have its maximum effect”.

Dormant Season (October-March) Most understory burning is done during the winter dormant season. Acceptable relative humidity, temperature, fuel moistures, and steady persistent winds moet often occur during this time of year. Dormant season burning reduces the effect of overetory killing wildfires by reducing the fuel load. Frequent prescribed burns during the dormant season are an effective tool to control growth of midstory hardwoods in lobioliy and shortieaf pine stands, maintaining key habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Shorter burn intervals further reduce the number and size of woody plants. By shortening the burn intervals to two years or less, the woody cover generally gives way to grasses and forbs (Outoalt 2009). Other wildlife that beneñt from dormant season burning are Bachman's Sparrow, bobwhite quail and turkey.

Growing Season (April»September)

Growing season burns during the summer (temperature above 80 degrees) requires 1ess

heat to raise the plant tissue temperature to iethal levels. For this reason, summer burns are used

to reduce undesirable hardwoods. This reduction of understory creates open pine forest favored as foraging areas for both red-cockaded woodpeckers and Bachman's sparrow. Generally, higher fire

danger and temperatures reduce the number of acceptable days when prescribed burning can

occur and size of burns. Prescribed burning during this time of year, however, can affect nesting birds. Prescribed tire can be lethal to cavity trees for the red-cockaded woodpecker due to resin flow of cavity trees igniting, if not raked prior to ignition.

Since the first of January, the Refuge has received over fifteen inches of rain this year. Prescribed burning has been slow due to the wet weather. We still anticipate having a good year and plan to burn between 5,000 to 7,000 acres. The weather pattern seems to be following last year’s patter and in that year most burning occurred from mid-March and ended around the tirst of June. Although we are getting a late start, prescribed burning is a vital part of Red Cockaded Woodpecker habitat management, and reduces hazardous fuel with the forest. We anticipate burning through turkey season similar to last year, which some hunters do not appreciate; but, the turkeys do!

Wildlife Factoids

A group of:

otters is called a “romp”

squirrels is called a “scurry”

rabbits is called a “warren”

eagles is called a “convocation” sparrows is called a “host”

turkeys is called a “rafter”

crows is called a “murder”

owls is called a “parliament” or a “stare”



We Need Your Help

Vandalism is an on-going issue on Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee Refuge and cost the refuge an estimated $30,000 last year in repairs. Some of the highest cost damage stemmed from busting up the public restrooms, stealing signs, and painting graffiti and carving into wood structures. Litter

and illegal dumping are also costing time and money to address. As a Federal agency it is the public’s money that has to be used to take care of these problems instead of going toward wildlife, public improvements or other management needs. Another recent incident was the theft of the doormat with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service emblem from our front door of the Visitor Center. This will not be replaced. We need your help! lf you have any information regarding theft or if you see anyone destroying or vandalizing your public land please call 24 hours a day to the Refuge Ofñce at (662) 323-5548 and select option 5 from the automated attendant. A law enforcement officer will be notified immediately. You can also report information to Refuge personnel directly if during working hours. For emergencies continue to contact 911.

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Golden Eagles Documented!

Birders in the area know that Golden Eagles have been sighted periodically over the years. Now we have the tîrst documented proof of golden eagles here on the Refuge and in Mississippi thanks to Todd Katzner, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor from West Virginia University

SAM D. HAMILTON NOXUBEE NWR 2970 Bluff Lake Road

Brooksville MS 39739-9408 (662)323-5548

Noxubee@fws.gov