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Jun 052010

Tarballs (from quarter size to 2ft mats) impact Bon Secour AL Nat’l Wild Refuge

Tar balls of oil began washing up along Gulf beaches at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge yesterday afternoon with the high tide at approximately 3:00 p.m. Cleanup crews began removing oil on the Fort Morgan Unit of the refuge yesterday evening and additional cleanup is planned on the refuge today.
The weathered oil is generally small patches from as small as a quarter to mats of oil of about two feet, about the size of a garbage can lid. It is sporadically distributed along the beaches.
Currently, refuge beaches and trails are open until further notice. However, effective June 4, the Alabama Department of Public Health has issued a swimming advisory for Gulf beaches, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has closed Gulf waters in Alabama and Mobile Bay east of the ship channel to Little Point Clear to fishing.
Refuge staff will continue to monitor and respond to any impacts of oil to habitats or wildlife and will provide updates as necessary. We have laid more than 67,000 feet of boom to protect key bays and estuaries on the inshore waters of Mobile Bay that surround the refuge and marshes. On the Gulf Side, berms have been constructed across key gulf access points on the refuge to reduce risk of oil contamination.
“We are conducting a full-court press to protect our resources here at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge,” said Jereme Phillips, Refuge Manager. “We will continue to proactively work to protect this refuge.”
“We have two Loggerhead sea turtle nests and One Kemps Ridley sea turtle nest so far on the Fort Morgan peninsula,” he said. “We usually get 30 to 40 nests per year. It is still early in the season.”
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 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 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 Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excis taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.