«

»

Friends and Refuges: A Valuable Partnership

Friends lobbying on the Hill. From left to right: Joan Patterson, Director of Grassroots Outreach at the Refuge Association; Birgie Miller, "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society; Mike McMinn, Friends of Nisqually NWR; Andy Fisk, Friends of Silvio O. Conte NFWR; Cheryll Hart, Friends of Tualatin RIver National WIldlife Refuge; Judith and Bill Jewell, Friends of Louisiana Wildlife | Emily Paciolla
Friends lobbying on the Hill. From left to right: Joan Patterson, Director of Grassroots Outreach at the Refuge Association; Birgie Miller, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society; Mike McMinn, Friends of Nisqually NWR; Andy Fisk, Friends of Silvio O. Conte NFWR; Cheryll Hart, Friends of Tualatin RIver National WIldlife Refuge; Judith and Bill Jewell, Friends of Louisiana Wildlife | Emily Paciolla

Did you know that volunteers and refuge “Friends” do approximately 20 percent of all work on national wildlife refuges – the equivalent of 648 full time employees?

Friends groups exist to support national wildlife refuges, and they do just that in many different capacities. Friends volunteers to do restoration work, handle publicity for the refuge, host events, manage and run nature stores, and much more. Without Friends groups, the Refuge System would not be what it is today!

The concept of public stewardship of our nation’s wildlife and habitat has its roots in President Theodore Roosevelt’s foresight in setting aside large areas of the public domain for wildlife and public enjoyment. In 1903, he established Pelican Island in Florida as the first national wildlife refuge. But lacking federal funds for staff, the first refuge warden started as a volunteer, laying the foundation for citizen commitment to our national wildlife refuges.

Today there are 230 Friends organizations working in support of refuges across the nation, with 40,000 volunteers contributing 1.3 million hours a year to the Refuge System.

One of the many benefits Friends provide to the Refuge System is lobbying on behalf of the System. Friends have helped significantly increase the Refuge System Operations and Maintenance budget and get significant legislation passed. Friends make a real difference on the ground and on Capitol Hill.

If you are a Friends member or want to become one, check out Refuge Friends Connect! Your go-to guide to all things Friends.

As you celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week, don’t forget about the wonderful Friends groups that enhance this amazing system of public lands!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://refugeassociation.org/2014/10/friends-and-refuges-a-valuable-partnership/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*