Groups Announce Alliance to Support Little Darby National Wildlife Refuge

The Ohio Environmental Council, Columbus Audubon Society and Darby Creek Association have formed an alliance to support the proposed Little Darby National Wildlife Refuge. The Alliance will go by the name "Darby Alliance for the Refuge on Behalf of the Youth of Ohio." We will use the acronym "DARBY-Ohio." While not yet a formal member of the alliance, the Sierra Club – Ohio Chapter is actively supporting this effort. We encourage other groups to join this Alliance.

DARBY-Ohio believes this Refuge is the BEST way to allow everyone to experience our National Scenic River. We say we are working on behalf of youth because this is a long-term project that will protect key natural resources and adjacent farmland from long-term development pressures. The Refuge is the best way to guarantee that Darby Creek will be protected for subsequent generations to experience it.

With the plan’s recently-announced focus on farmland preservation, DARBY-Ohio notes that people involved in agriculture will have their way of life protected for subsequent generations. Since it combines the needs of the watershed for ecological restoration with the desires of the local agricultural industry - Little Darby National Wildlife Refuge is something everyone should support.

DARBY-Ohio believes Ohio needs more public land for education, recreation, hunting and fishing. People have asked for it as a high priority according to ODNR. Ohio ranks 47th of 50 states in per capita public land. Ohio is not getting its fair share of Federal funds for wildlife resources. We send a lot of taxes to Washington and have only one National Wildlife Refuge to show for it currently.

DARBY-Ohio notes that Little Darby Creek is a key habitat for many state endangered species (mussels, fish, plants). We have an obligation to protect these fellow inhabitants of Central Ohio. A Wildlife Refuge will have this as a key priority.

Many other groups outside DARBY-Ohio support the Refuge. Taken together, these groups represent over 75,000 Ohioans. Other groups that have expressed support for the Refuge include:

Pheasants Forever - Ohio Council, The Ohio Smallmouth Alliance, Citizen Speak Out, Buckeye Forest Council, Central Ohio Green Education Fund, The Hocking River Commission, Kokosing Scenic River Association, Loveland Greenbelt Community Council, Northside Greenspace, Inc., Olentangy River Valley Association, Rural Action, Sandusky Scenic River Advisory Council, Sugar Creek Protection Society, The Nature Conservancy, Tinkers Creek Land Conservancy, Friends of Blacklick Creek, Friends of the Lower Olentangy, Ducks Unlimited - Ohio Chapter, Citizens Protecting Ohio.

This support is contingent on the final, approved plan remaining true to the already-announced goals and principles of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for this project. One key principle is that eminent domain not be used for land acquisition. Key Refuge Goals are:

1. Protect Threatened Species residing in the Watershed.

2. Protect Migratory Birds & Habitat.

3. Promote Public Use Opportunities. (Public use opportunities that will be compatible with the Refuge’s objectives will probably include hunting, fishing, photography, wildlife education and interpretation.)

4. Ensure above goals are achieved while respecting agriculture as an existing desirable land use.

Contact Numbers for Reporters’ Use Only (Please do not publish these numbers): Terry Stewart, DCA Trustee and Chair of the Little Darby National Wildlife Refuge Public Support Task Force, 614-851-9078; Erin Miller, Ohio Environmental Council, 487-7506; Dave Horn, Columbus Audubon Society, 262-0312; Cynthia Sibrel, Sierra Club - Ohio Chapter, 461-0734.