Expanding the world’s largest network of wildlife refuges into San Joaquin County would attract rare and beautiful migratory birds, open up new boating and fishing opportunities, and reduce flood risk in urban areas, federal officials say in a new report.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says enlarging the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge is a “unique” opportunity to restore a major corridor of wildlife habitat along the second largest stream in California, and triple the number of refuge visitors in the process.

Stockton conservationist Jeremy Terhune, head of the group Friends of the Lower Calaveras River, said he feels the good of the project outweighs any perceived bad. Now, with the proposal in hand, is the time to discuss expanding the refuge, he said.

“It means jobs,” Terhune said. “It means outdoor recreational opportunities. It means habitat for birds, which are having a hard enough time as it is. Everybody benefits.”

 

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