SACRAMENTO, California – Two islands in the Sacramento River owned by the federal government have been closed to filing of new mining claims and are proposed to be withdrawn from the general land laws and transferred from the Bureau of Land Management to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Todd Island and Foster Island are isolated tracts of public land within the boundary of the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge and are proposed for withdrawal and transfer to the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect riparian habitat along the river, which is critically important for fish, migratory birds, plants, and river system health.

Located southeast of Red Bluff in Tehama County, the islands cover about 472 acres. Todd Island is one of the last remaining places inhabited by the rare yellow-billed cuckoo.

The mining claim closure, or segregation, published in the December 27, 2007 Federal Register, lasts for two years, allowing time for the agencies to conduct various studies and analyses to support a final decision on the withdrawal application filed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The application has been approved for consideration by the assistant secretary of the interior for lands and minerals management.

If the secretary of the interior eventually approves the withdrawal, the lands would be withdrawn for a specified period from settlement, sale, location, or entry under the general land laws, but not from the mineral leasing or mineral material laws, subject to valid existing rights.

Upon approval of the transfer, and as included in the Sacramento River Comprehensive Conservation Plan, the Fish and Wildlife Service would continue to provide recreation opportunities on the islands including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, and interpretation.

Comprised of dozens of individual units on both sides of the river, the 10,000 acre Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge stretches for 77 miles between Red Bluff and Princeton California.

The public has until March 26, 2008 to submit comments, suggestions, or objections on the proposed withdrawal. Comments must be submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Service at 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1832, Sacramento, CA 95825.

The agencies also offer an opportunity for a public meeting, if requested. Anyone who desires a public meeting must submit a written request with the 90-day comment period.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.