Brown's Park future mapped in federal conservation plan

Brown's Park National Wildlife Refuge will get a facelift so it can continue to serve the public and wildlife for the next 15 years.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed a comprehensive Conservation Plan for Brown's Park. The goal of the plan is to outline a vision for the future of the refuge and specify how the park can be maintained to conserve indigenous wildlife and provide enjoyment for people.

Brown's Park is a 13,455-acre refuge located on the Green River near Dinosaur National Monument.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) the refuge contains three key wildlife habitats for wildlife:

Wetlands provide migration and breeding habitat for waterfowl and other water birds.

Riparian areas provide important migration and breeding habitat for songbirds.

Uplands provide critical winter habitat for large mammals such as mule deer, elk and pronghorn.

The cultural history of the area also adds to its value for visitors. The area known for wintering the rustled livestock of Butch Casidy and the Wild Bunch.

According to Mike Bryant, refuge manager for the past four years, a combination of these assets makes the area valuable as a refuge.

"I think the unique thing about it is the combination of abundant wildlife, the sense of wildlife history and solitude," said Bryant. "It has been off the beaten path for a long time and people really appreciate the solitude."

The uniqueness of the refuge is why it's important to outline a plan for the next 15 years, according to Bryant.

The plan was developed through a series of public meetings, questionnaires and meetings with USFWS staff. USFWS has been developing the plan since 1997 when the National Refuge Improvement Act was passed.

As far as wildlife habitat, the plan focuses on encouraging wildlife conservation efforts on the lands that surround the refuge, focusing on the needs of special status species within the refuge, water management, the decline of riparian habitat and public use facilities.

"The refuge has done an excellent job of protecting habitat in the past," said Bryant. "Our main focus will be providing public use facilities. We plan to improve the campgrounds and put up more interpretive signs. We want to make it easier for visitors to enjoy the refuge."

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