This letter is to express my extremely strong opposition to the preferred Alternative 2 for long-term goals for the Willapa National Wildlife refuge.
1. This proposal has not had adequate public scrutiny nor has the public had adequate opportunity to express opinions. To my knowledge, only one meeting was held to which the public was invited. That meeting was in 2008 and I was there along with some 40 or so other citizens; not one person outside of refuge personnel supported breaching any dikes.
2. It makes no sense to breach dikes that the refuge spent a very large sum of money, some $300,000, to recently install special floodgates and fish ladders to keep the saltwater off the land. One or the other of these projects (breach or floodgates) is a prime example of fiscal irresponsibility with the taxpayers money.
3. The very idea of breaching the dikes to create an additional 761 acres of salt marsh in Willapa Bay makes no environmental sense as a necessity when the spartina eradiation project has effectively reclaimed some 8,500 acres of salt marsh habitat since 2003.
4. Already done is a breaching of the dikes by Hwy. 101 near South Bend, thereby creating a large salt marsh (i.e. mudflat) that large flocks of waterfowl, herds of elk and other small animals and raptors once utilized and is now devoid of nearly all of these inhabitants. All one has to do is observe the difference between Bruceport Hill and the created mudflat to see where the most utilized habitat exists.
5. It makes no sense to destroy (at a large cost) the dikes which make wonderful walking trails to observe both freshwater and salt marsh habitat and then turn around and build (at another large expense) a boardwalk/walking trail that will observe only salt marsh.
6. It also makes no economic sense to build a whole new headquarters and visitor facility on land that the refuge has already spent significant money establishing as habitat for birds and animals. A better plan would be to expand the existing facility, use potable water dispensers and set an example by using composting toilets. This option would not destroy wildlife habitat and would be a much better use of public funds.
7. I can see no value to the public in a plan to expand the refuge by an additional almost 7,000 acres. At a time when our country is deeply in debt and it appears that refuge management has difficulty taking care of what it is already responsible for (i.e., their statement that its too expensive to maintain the dikes), this whole plan sounds like a poorly thought out land and money grab, whereby neither the publics interest is served nor the funds well spent. The whole project looks like a pork-barrel boondoggle to me.
Fred W. Cook