November 9, 2000

Tamara Hamilton, DOE HQ, 202/586-5806
Peter Genzer, BNL, 631/344-3174

Richardson Announces 530 Acres of Brookhaven National Lab As Protected Habitat For Educational, Research Activities

Environmental Cleanup Budget Increased and Schedule Accelerated

UPTON, NY - Plans to permanently preserve a unique Pine Barrens ecosystem, providing a home to more than 220 species of plants and 162 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, were announced today by Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson in Upton, New York. Under an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Secretary Richardson dedicated the Upton Ecological and Research Reserve -- an area of over 500 acres within the Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory Site -- for permanent preservation.

"Just as Brookhaven served our country with its research into peaceful uses of the atom, today it will assume a new role. With the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Long Island communities, we are making a public commitment to preserve this land and make it available for educational activities and ecological research," said Secretary Richardson. "This is the ninth site the Energy Department has reclaimed to ensure natural resources across the country are saved for present and future generations."

Secretary Richardson also outlined plans to increase the environmental cleanup budget at Brookhaven National Laboratory from $22 million in FY 2000 to $35 million in FY 2001 and beyond, and accelerate the schedule for completing cleanup from 2006 to 2004. The Secretary's plan also includes an additional $1.2 million to deploy a new technology that will enhance reactor cleanup. Brookhaven Science Associates, the site's research management contractor, also has been authorized to negotiate changes to subcontract for cleanup in order to provide new incentives for streamlining projects and accelerating the completion of the overall site cleanup program.

The Upton Ecological and Research Reserve is the latest example of the Energy Department's commitment to protect the environmental assets of its sites. Over 200,000 acres of unique wild lands have been preserved by the Energy Department because of their natural significance. The Pine Barrens land in the Upton Reserve creates a unique ecosystem of forests and wetlands. It provides habitat for approximately 27 endangered, threatened or species of special concern -- including the endangered eastern tiger salamander and state-threatened banded sunfish.Other wildlife species of interest that inhabit this area include the wild turkey, red fox, eastern box turtle and the red-tailed hawk. 

The Energy Department will provide the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service $200,000 a year, over a five-year period, for land management activities and research in the Upton Ecological and Research Reserve. 
As described in the memorandum of agreement, the Energy Department, as the landowner, will manage the environmental compliance, safety, health, fire protection, access, and cleanup activities, while designating management responsibility to U.S. Fish and Wildlife for the area's permanent protection. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will manage the recovery efforts for the endangered resources within the area, and perform day-to-day work at the reserve.

The proclamation and its associated memorandum of agreement, signed by Secretary Richardson and Susan McMahon, Acting Chief of the National Refuge System of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service, and the state of New York's Department of Environmental Quality, formalizes DOE's commitment to maintain and permanently protect the reserve for present and future generations. 
Immediately following the signing, Secretary Richardson and Senator Schumer presented certificates of recognition to students from Ridge Elementary school and Bellport high school for scientific achievement and environmental research.

- DOE -

Land and Wildlife Management Transfer at DOE Sites

The Department of Energy (DOE) holds 2.4 million acres of land, much of which has been used as buffer zones that separate DOE activities from nearby communities. Recognizing that its land holdings are ecologically significant, or contain threatened, endangered or rare species, or are unique in flora, fauna, vegetation and habitat, DOE has signed agreements to co-manage these parcels with federal and state agencies. As a result, over 200,000 acres of unique wild lands have been preserved because of their natural significance.

- The Hanford Reach - Hanford, WA
At the Hanford Site in Washington, 90,000 acres of shrub-steppe habitat along the Columbia River was preserved on April 10, 1999. The "Wahluke Slope" is now managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as a National Wildlife Refuge. This land had served as a safety and security buffer zone for Hanford operations since the inception of the Manhattan Project in 1943, resulting in an ecosystem that has been relatively untouched for decades.

- The Rock Creek Reserve - Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site, CO
At Rocky Flats Site in Colorado, 800 acres of the Rocky Mountain Front Range were preserved on May 17, 1999. The "Rock Creek Reserve" is now managed by a partnership with the USFWS as a Wildlife Reserve. It is also home to a variety of threatened and endangered animal species, including the endangered Prebles Meadow Jumping Mouse. This land had served as a safety and security buffer zone for Rocky Flats for 25 years.

- Three Bend Scenic and Wildlife Management Refuge Area - Oak Ridge Reservation, TN
At the Oak Ridge Reservation, 3,000 acres of fields, forests and wetlands were preserved on June 24, 1999. The "Three Bend Scenic and Wildlife Management Refuge Area" is now managed by DOE and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The area provides an important habitat and home for numerous threatened, endangered, and rare animal species.

- Crackerneck Reserve - Savannah River Site, SC
At the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, 10,000 acres of unique plant and wildlife habitat were preserved on June 24, 1999. The "Crackerneck Reserve" is now managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources as a biological and wildlife refuge. The area has been spared by development since the Savannah River Site was built in the early 1950's.

- Sagebrush Steppe Reserve - Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Lab. (INEEL)
At the INEEL, 74,000 acres of high-desert land was preserved on July 17, 1999. The "Sagebrush Steppe Reserve" is now managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Since the land has been a buffer zone for 50 years, it is still home to a large section of sagebrush habitat.

- Hamburg Trail - Weldon Spring, MO
At Weldon Spring the Department of Energy created a learning center and Hamburg Trail, which links the nearby Katy Trail and the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area -- a state wildlife refuge. The Weldon Spring site is targetted to be closed in 2002 and dates back to 1941.

- White Rock Canyon Reserve - Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), NM
At the LANL in New Mexico,1000 acres of canyon lands was preserved on October 30, 1999. The "White Rock Canyon Reserve" is now managed by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior - to enhance and ensure protection of the habitat and rare wildlife.

- Amsinckia grandiflora Reserve - Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), CA
At the LLNL in California, 160 acres was preserved on April 28, 2000. The "Amsinckia grandiflora Reserve" provides critical habitat for more than 300 species of plants and 95 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Plants in the Reserve that are protected include a portion of increasingly important native grasses.

- DOE -