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January 27, 2017
Use of Unmanned Aircraft Prohibited On Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Titusville: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, reminds visitors launching, landing or operating an unmanned aircraft from, or on lands and waters within national wildlife refuges, or flying drones at an altitude resulting in harassment to wildlife is prohibited unless authorized through a Special Use Permit.
As the managing agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for assuring that recreational and commercial uses are compatible with the refuge purpose to protect and manage its wildlife and to provide visitors with a safe and quality outdoor experience. The unauthorized use of unmanned aircraft, commonly known as drones, on Merritt Island NWR has increased during recent years with documented incidents of wildlife harassment. Additionally, drones over or near active wildfires or prescribed burning operations could be catastrophic if the unmanned aircraft interfere or collide with the refuge's firefighting aircraft.
The Fish and Wildlife Service interprets the definition of "aircraft" (50 C.F.R. § 27.34) to include any device that is used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device. All associated operational elements, including cameras; sensors, communication links, and all of the components that are required for the system operator to control the device are considered part of the device. The term "aircraft" includes model aircraft, quadcopters, drones, powered gliders, and other unmanned aircraft systems.
To inform the public of Merritt Island NWR's unmanned aircraft policy, signs will be posted at refuge kiosks and public notifications regarding the operation of unmanned aircraft will be available on the refuge website (https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Merritt_Island/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MerrittIslandNWR).
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System which is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
Connect with us on social media at www.facebook.com/MerrittIslandNWR/
www.facebook.com/usfwssoutheast, www.twitter.com/usfwssoutheast, http://www.youtube.com/usfws, and http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwssoutheast.
Visitor Services Manager
Merritt Island NWR
PO Box 2683
Titusville, FL 32781
December 12, 2016
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Titusville: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces, beginning January 1, 2017, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge will implement an increase to the daily fee and annual fee.
Updates Entrance Fees Beginning January 1, 2017
The refuge daily pass will increase from $5.00 to $10.00. The refuge annual pass, valid for one year from the date of purchase, will increase from $15.00 to $25.00.
The $25.00 Federal Duck Stamp, may also be used as an entrance pass.
According to Refuge Manager Layne Hamilton, the fee increases are necessary to offset the costs of operating and maintaining facilities and safety services on the refuge. They also mirror similar increases at the nearby Canaveral National Seashore.
BIOLAB BOAT LAUNCH
Currently 80% of the revenue generated from fees stays at the Refuge and is used to fund visitor services projects. A new 30 foot concrete boat ramp and courtesy dock were recently completed at the Biolab boat launch. The new ramp has been relocated to provide direct access into the Mosquito Lagoon. The new location will reduce seagrass scaring in the local area by providing the public with direct access to the natural lagoon channel. Boaters are now able to launch larger vessels without power loading, reducing propeller dredging and siltation. This will protect vital sea grass beds which are an important lagoon habitat. It will also eliminate the need for power loading of boats onto trailers. A new kayak launching dock was also installed. The dock is fully accessible and will help anyone with mobility limitations to more easily enter and exit their kayak. The Service is excited to be able to offer this facility to visitors. It is the first of its kind in the County.
Refuge daily and annual passes may be purchased at the refuge visitor center, located 6 miles east of Titusville on route 402. The visitor center is open daily from 8AM until 4PM. Daily passes may also be purchased at self-serve kiosks at various locations around the refuge including Black Point Wildlife Drive as well as each of the 3 main boat ramps.a Daily passes may be used at both the National Wildlife Refuge and the National Seashore. For more information contact the visitor center at 321-861-0669.
November 8, 2016
Fish & Wildlife Service Estimates Hurricane Matthew Damage Could Total $6 Million
Titusville, FL – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serviced announced today that after a thorough assessment, damage to facilities at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge could total as much as $6 million to repair. Facilities include nearly 140 miles of levees of which more than 40 miles have sustained some type of storm damage. Many of the roads constructed along the tops of levees provide public access throughout the Refuge.
One such road is the popular Biolab Road along the western edge of the Mosquito Lagoon. This road provides access to the lagoon to anglers and waterfowl hunters, bird watchers and tours of the adjacent impoundments are popular with participants in the annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival held each January. The Biolab road suffered significant damage due to overwash and erosion. The levees, which hold impounded waters, are managed both for mosquito control and wildlife management. In addition to the damage sustained to the levees themselves, over 150 water control structures used to manipulate the water levels in each impoundment were also damaged. Water levels may be held high to disrupt the breeding cycle of marsh mosquitoes. Flooded impoundments also grow the native food eaten by migrating waterfowl during the fall and winter. If the structures fail and water cannot be held, that will lessen the amount of foods available for ducks which would result in less ducks wintering on the Refuge thus impacting the upcoming waterfowl hunting season. Each year hunters contribute over $250,000 to the local economy.
Some repairs have already begun. The work on Peacocks Pocket Road and other public areas began immediately after the storm and is ongoing. Other repairs will take longer as the Refuge has not received any additional funds to aid in storm recovery. When the Biolab Road or Oak and Palm Hammock trails will be repaired and re-opened is unknown at this time.
Levee damage on the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
The National Wildlife Refuge System protects wildlife and wildlife habitat on more than 150 million acres of land and water from the Caribbean to the Pacific, Maine to Alaska. Refuges also improve human health, provide outdoor recreation, and support local economies. Visit our home page at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/.
For more information, please contact us at:
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 6504
Titusville, Florida 32782
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
On March 14, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an Executive Order creating Pelican Island as the country's first national wildlife refuge. Roosevelt went on to establish an additional 54 national wildlife refuges during his two terms and set historic conservation values for America. These values have grown into a system, which today, consists of 546 National Wildlife Refuges on more than 95 million acres of America's most important wildlife habitat.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 546 national wildlife refuges and over 3000 "mini-refuges" called Waterfowl Production Areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological Services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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