Crofton * Odenton * Fort Meade * Gambrills

WEST COUNTY --

September 22, 1993

North tract of center to stay open

The north tract of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, scheduled to close on weekdays as of Oct. 1, will remain open under legislation approved by the U.S. Senate last week.

Senators also approved the final $1.35 million that the center needs to complete a visitors center.

"When completed next year, the visitors center will offer a unique opportunity to educate the public, especially the nation's youth, about the importance of wildlife research and conservation," said Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md.

The center administration had proposed closing the north tract, which was transferred from Fort Meade in 1991 and has drawn an estimated 50,000 visitors for hiking, fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities. Most of the center's middle and southern tracts are off limits to the public.

Jamise Liddell, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said the department sought $400,000 to maintain the north tract last year, but received only $100,000. A spokesman for Senator Sarbanes said the extra money has been approved.

The senator said in a prepared statement that little money could be saved by closing the north tract on weekdays. He said it is operated mainly by volunteers and a "few permanent staff members" who ensure the public programs are compatible with the center's research mission.

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