Ala. officials plan to restore wildlife refuge

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - Officials are working on a 15-year plan to overhaul the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Refuge manager Lloyd Culp said the plan includes resettling the endangered Mississippi sandhill crane from a nearby refuge to help
restore one of the largest areas of wetlands pine savanna left on the Gulf Coast. He said officials also plan to use prescribed fires on about 5,000 acres in the refuge to help spur plant growth.

In addition, a new $7 million, 16,000-square-foot visitors center is under construction. The facility is set to open in the spring.

The 15,000-acre refuge runs from 10 miles east of Pascagoula, Miss., to 20 miles west of Mobile, Ala. It's part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's national refuge system and draws about 700 visitors annually.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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