National Wildlife Refuge Association http://refugeassociation.org Home of the National Wildlife Refuge Association (Refuge Association) Fri, 05 Feb 2016 20:38:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Best Tropical National Wildlife Refuges http://refugeassociation.org/2016/02/best-tropical-national-wildlife-refuges/ http://refugeassociation.org/2016/02/best-tropical-national-wildlife-refuges/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 16:01:01 +0000 http://refugeassociation.org/?p=13175 In the cold, dark days of winter, it’s hard not to dream of sun, sand and tropical breezes! Good thing for us as America’s national wildlife refuges offer plenty of tropical escapes.

Many people know and love J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge, a mecca for birders – and snowbirds – on Sanibel Island, Fla. It’s an incredible wildlife refuge along the Florida Gulf Coast. But have you heard of Vieques, or Kilauea Point? Whether you love beachcombing, birding or boating, we give you some of best tropical escapes that also double as the best places to view wildlife!

Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, Puerto Rico

Discover Secluded White-Sand Beaches and Bioluminescent Waters

A short flight from Puerto Rico’s bustling capital of San Juan is a tropical paradise undisturbed by throngs of tourists that flock to nearby Caribbean islands. Once a Navy bombing range, today Vieques features secluded beaches, wild horses and one of the world’s best underwater light shows at the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay.

One of dozens of remote beaches found within the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge | Christine McGowan
One of dozens of remote beaches found within the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge | Christine McGowan

Key West National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

Snorkel Among Sea Turtles

What says winter vacation more than Key West? Key West National Wildlife Refuge is a string of uninhabited ‘backcountry’ islands accessible only by boat. Some of the best snorkeling can be found among these remote islands, which are breeding grounds for four species of sea turtle: green, loggerhead, hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridley.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle | Caroline S. Rogers/NOAA
Hawksbill sea turtle | Caroline S. Rogers/NOAA

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii

Photograph Stunning Vistas and a Historic Lighthouse

For more than 100 years, the Kilauea Point Lighthouse on the island of Kauai has stood tall above massive cliffs, guiding ships around the island’s rough seas. The surrounding refuge is a birder’s paradise, with some of the largest congregations of migrating seabirds, and a chance to spot Hawaii’s state bird, the endangered nene or Hawaiian goose.

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii | Megan Nagel/USFWS
Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii | Megan Nagel/USFWS

Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

Kayak Through North America’s Largest Mangrove Forest

Deep in the heart of the Everglades is a 35,000-acre maze of black, red and white mangrove islands that host thousands of wading birds roosting here in the summer. Accessed most easily by boat, this refuge offers excellent opportunities to spot manatees and dolphins, and also allows beach camping.

A kayaker approaches a clump of reeds | ‪Joel Zatz
A kayaker approaches a clump of reeds | ‪Joel Zatz

Breton National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana

Go Crabbing Along the Chandeleur Islands

Breton National Wildlife Refuge is an incredible story of resiliency. The refuge is a series of barrier islands that constantly shift, and most recently were hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill. However, today the refuge reports the largest numbers of brown pelicans and terns breeding here since before Katrina. Hire a local guide to take you out to the refuge where fishing and crabbing are permitted year-round.

Royal terns on Breton National Wildlife Refuge, La. | Donna A. Dewhurst
Royal terns on Breton National Wildlife Refuge, La. | Donna A. Dewhurst

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Search for the Last Remaining Ocelots

Just across the bridge from the Texas Spring Break Capital of South Padre Island is an incredible patch of wilderness. The thorny brush of Laguna Atascosa is one of the last stands for the endangered ocelot, a small wild cat once common in the South. Fewer than 50 remain in Texas, but in 2014 biologists discovered new ocelots on the refuge, a promising sign for this striking feline.

Ocelot | USFWS
Ocelot | USFWS

Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

Go Diving Among Whales and Dolphins

One of the most remote of all national wildlife refuges, Palmyra Atoll offers some of the world’s best diving opportunities. But getting there won’t be easy. The Nature Conservancy owns the only runway and sailing here will take 5-7 days from Honolulu. But those fortunate enough to gain a special use permit to visit will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to observe pristine coral reefs, marine mammals and rare seabirds.

Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge | Erik Oberg/Island Conservation
Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge | Erik Oberg/Island Conservation

What is your favorite tropical wildlife refuge?

 

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President Calls for Full Funding of Land and Water Conservation Fund http://refugeassociation.org/2016/02/president-calls-for-full-funding-of-land-and-water-conservation-fund/ http://refugeassociation.org/2016/02/president-calls-for-full-funding-of-land-and-water-conservation-fund/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:30:12 +0000 http://refugeassociation.org/?p=13186
Connecticut River in the New Hampshire Region of the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge | Credit: Lisa Densmore
Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge (Conn. Mass. N.H. and Vt.) is included in the project requests for LWCF. | Credit: Lisa Densmore

President Obama announced plans to request full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in his FY17 budget request. According to the announcement from the Department of Interior, in 2017, the President’s budget calls for $900 million in conservation and recreation projects, through a combination of discretionary ($475 million) and mandatory ($425 million) funding, and pursues permanent authorization in annual mandatory funding beginning in FY18.

National Wildlife Refuge Association President David Houghton had this to say:

“President Obama is creating a great legacy of land and water conservation by requesting full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and recommending permanent authorization in annual mandatory funding for the Fund’s programs beginning in 2018. Giving federal land managers the resources they need to partner with local communities on land conservation projects means critical wildlife habitat can be protected and local communities can conserve valuable land for future generations.”

Under the president’s request, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would get $35,884,000 in discretionary funding and $74,426,000 in mandatory funding. The mandatory side will only be funded should Congress create full and permanent funding for the program and remove it from the annual appropriations process.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established 51 years ago to protect valuable conservation lands and water for future generations. The fund is derived from offshore oil and gas drilling proceeds, but has been underfunded by Congress for years, delaying progress on important conservation projects across the nation. Since it’s inception, this successful conservation program has supported more than 42,000 national, state and local parks and outdoor recreation projects in all 50 states. For every $1 invested through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, there is an estimated return of $4 in local economic activity.

View the project requests and read more details in our press release.

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Showing Love For Wildlife Refuges Through Photography http://refugeassociation.org/2016/02/showing-love-for-wildlife-refuges-through-photography/ http://refugeassociation.org/2016/02/showing-love-for-wildlife-refuges-through-photography/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 22:03:59 +0000 http://refugeassociation.org/?p=13154 After hearing about the armed standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Steve Dimock’s first thought was, “Let’s introduce people to what a wildlife refuge is and what makes them special through photography.”

Dimock, a professional photographer and owner of an inn near Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, began posting a daily photo on his Facebook page of what wildlife refuges should be known for–the array of landscapes, animals, vegetation and cultural resources found on those lands and waters.

He was saddened to think many heard of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge–located in the high desert of southeastern Oregon at the northern edge of the Great Basin–because of the standoff. Their first experience with this place was not gazing upon the Steen Mountains, fishing at the Krumbo Reservoir or seeing meadows teeming with birds as they migrate up the Pacific Flyway. Instead, people were introduced to the refuge via scenes of an armed takeover, protests and destruction of natural and cultural resources.

The situation at Malheur NWR is not representative of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a world-class conservation network extending over more than 150 million acres that is the only federal public land system dedicated to wildlife conservation first. Wildlife refuges are also where millions of Americans go to enjoy outdoor recreation.

Photography is one of the “Big Six” wildlife-dependent recreational uses offered on most refuges, and wildlife photography is one of the fastest growing activities on national wildlife refuges.

Thanks to Steve Dimock for reminding us what spectacular places wildlife refuges are and how we can all benefit from them!

 

What the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge should be known for…History. There are some fabulous historical sites…

Posted by Steve Dimock Photography on Thursday, January 7, 2016

What our Wildlife Refuges should be known for…Family time. This image of a mother Harbor Seal and her pup was made…

Posted by Steve Dimock Photography on Saturday, January 9, 2016

What Oregon’s National Wildlife Refuges should be known for…Reflection. Taken at the Bandon Marsh NWR (part of the…

Posted by Steve Dimock Photography on Friday, January 15, 2016

What our National Wildlife Refuges Should be known for…Cooperation. This Bald Eagle is sitting on a dike in the…

Posted by Steve Dimock Photography on Thursday, January 28, 2016

What our National Wildlife Refuges should be known for…A place to meet new friends. Here we have a couple of young…

Posted by Steve Dimock Photography on Monday, January 25, 2016

What our National Wildlife Refuge should be saved for… Future generations. This fawn is, at my best guess, no more…

Posted by Steve Dimock Photography on Saturday, January 16, 2016

View more at the Steve Dimock Photography page on Facebook.

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We’re Hiring! Rangeland Ecologist/Wildlife Biologist http://refugeassociation.org/2016/02/were-hiring-rangeland-ecologistwildlife-biologist/ http://refugeassociation.org/2016/02/were-hiring-rangeland-ecologistwildlife-biologist/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 16:08:13 +0000 http://refugeassociation.org/?p=13148

Continue reading »]]> Rangeland Ecologist/ Wildlife Biologist

Description: This position is part of a collaborative effort between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (PFW) and National Wildlife Refuge Association (Refuge Association) to deliver rangeland and wildlife improvements through technical and financial assistance on private and public lands. This position will be a consultant or employee of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, which will provide strategic goals and oversight, with daily instruction and leadership being provided by local PFW staff. The position will be located in Evanston, Wyo. NOTE: This position is currently funded through 2018.

Background: The National Wildlife Refuge Association’s mission is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect and enhance the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries. Through partnerships with government agencies, private landowners and conservation organizations, in 2005, the Refuge Association launched the Beyond the Boundaries program to assist Refuges in playing a greater role in landscape conservation efforts. These efforts frequently build on work underway with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. With almost a 30 year history, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program is the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s primary mechanism for delivering voluntary on-the-ground habitat improvement projects on private lands for the benefit of Federal trust species.

Duties: Provide range ecology expertise and technical assistance to landowners, government agencies, non‐government organizations (NGO’s) and other conservation partners for sage steppe habitat conservation planning and project delivery. Project planning and delivery components include making landowner contacts, performing resource inventories, developing rangeland resource and prescriptive grazing plans, developing resource treatments and supplementary practices needed to achieve plant community and owner objectives, securing applicable Federal, State and Local permits, interacting with contractors, performing project implementation oversight and provide follow-up monitoring. Resource treatments or rangeland practices necessary to implement desired prescribed grazing system include water developments, fencing, salting, and herding. Supplementary practices needed to meet vegetation management objectives include range plantings, brush management, and invasive species control. Develop monitoring and evaluation procedures to see if desired changes are occurring and forage usage is balanced with livestock, wildlife and other resource needs.

Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Minimum educational requirement is a Bachelor of Science Degree in Rangeland Science, Wildlife Biology, or similar degree from an accredited university and coursework and/or experience in integrating wildlife management principles into range management systems.
  • Ability to communicate clearly and effectively with landowners and partner agencies.
  • Knowledge of range science and wildlife ecology including the ability to conduct resource inventories and develop prescribed grazing plans that include wildlife habitat management objectives.
  • Knowledge of sage steppe flora and fauna communities.
  • Knowledge of various vegetation treatments to sage steppe and the effects on the plant and animal communities.
  • Must be a self‐starter who can work independently.
  • Must be willing and able to travel on a regular basis, year round, and work in remote locations, often alone in inclement weather or adverse conditions.
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel and Access and GIS mapping software.
  • Excellent verbal/written communication and organizational skills.
  • Valid driver’s license.

Salary:   $35,000 ‐ $40,000 per year based on experience. Position can be structured as a consultant with salary adjustment to allow for independently carried benefits, or can be designed as a staff position that includes health and retirement benefits.

Location:  Evanston, Wyo.

Application Deadline: February 26, 2016

Applicant Start: Approximately March 20, 2016/Immediately upon decision

To Apply:  Email a cover letter, resume and three references with contact information in one Microsoft Word or PDF document to Ron Cole, western program manager, National Wildlife Refuge Association at rcole@refugeassociation.org.

The National Wildlife Refuge Association is an Equal Opportunity Employer

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What Malheur Means to Harney County http://refugeassociation.org/2016/02/what-malheur-means-to-harney-county/ http://refugeassociation.org/2016/02/what-malheur-means-to-harney-county/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 22:10:22 +0000 http://refugeassociation.org/?p=13140
Steen Mountain as seen from the Buena Vista Overlook at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Ore. | Marilyn Kircus
Steen Mountain as seen from the Buena Vista Overlook at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Ore. | Marilyn Kircus

As a young boy, I grew up with the chance to work in a family business. At the core of this business was the land. I wanted to learn as much about how to be a good steward of the land as I could. So I went off to college. The plan was to come back home and work for the family. Somewhere along the way, I took a 32- year detour working in public land conservation, most of them with the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Refuge System provided me the opportunity to connect the heartbeat of wild things, the magic of soils and clean water, with the pulse of human progress. I couldn’t think of a more noble way to make a living. I met my wife, raised my children, and made lifelong friends across rural America.

As we await a final resolution of the occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, I am getting mad as hell.

Harney County is home to many good men and women who work hard to make a good life for their families. Burns is a wonderful town, a hub for so many rural ranching families. It’s the place where people go to buy groceries and gas, attend church and basketball games. It’s a place where children attend 4-H or play on the local little league teams. It’s a small town where kids grow up knowing their neighbors, meet their husband or wife, settle down, raise their own kids and give back to the community, whether as a volunteer fire fighter, Rotarian or EMT.

I’m as frustrated as the residents of Harney County are, because I know what a great place it is and all of the important work that gets done out on Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. I was there this summer. I listened to neighbors and ranchers, county commissioners, hunters and fishers, conservationists, women and men from cities and the country, all tell a common story of working together to solve conservation problems that will make life better for Harney County.

The irony is that the men and women who have illegally occupied the refuge headquarters would have been welcome to share in that story. Instead, they arrived with guns, selfish intentions and a “pretend its legal” philosophy. The choice was theirs. They chose poorly. And by their choice, more than a refuge headquarters was taken over. An American community has been held hostage.

We are still in the cold bone of winter and snow seems plentiful this young year. The Steens should be sharing more water this spring than has been the custom of late. Forbs and bunchgrasses should be plentiful for wild and domestic grazers this summer, and creeks and springs should be running full.

Ron Cole is the western conservation programs manager for National Wildlife Refuge Association, and former refuge manager at Klamath Basin Refuge Complex in southern Oregon.
Ron Cole, western conservation programs manager for National Wildlife Refuge Association, and former refuge manager at Klamath Basin Refuge Complex in southern Oregon.

The annual return of sandhill cranes will soon be upon the Harney Basin. Aldo Leopold wrote that a crane marsh holds a paleontological patent on nobility. Citizens of Harney County will be listening with trained ear for the first sounds of their arrival. Their call is an ancient language that ushers nobility back to the Harney Basin each year.

In the meantime, I suppose we all have to be patient, and remember that the collective effort to conserve a special place in Harney County gives hope to a community that human progress can include the heartbeat of wild things.

Ron Cole is the western conservation programs manager for National Wildlife Refuge Association, and former refuge manager at Klamath Basin Refuge Complex in southern Oregon. He lives in Klamath Falls, Ore. with his wife.

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Help Ensure Conservation Remains Part of the Conversation http://refugeassociation.org/2016/02/help-ensure-conservation-remains-part-of-the-conversation/ http://refugeassociation.org/2016/02/help-ensure-conservation-remains-part-of-the-conversation/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 17:53:17 +0000 http://refugeassociation.org/?p=13131 The armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has put a spotlight on the role of public lands in our nation. Attending a town hall meeting or candidate forum is a great way to voice your concerns and hear what elected officials or candidates for office think about public lands.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | Caroline Brouwer
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | Caroline Brouwer

Open to all in the community, a town hall meeting or candidate forum provides everyone with the opportunity to pose questions, express concerns and hear updates from elected officials or get to know candidates for public office.

We’re asking you to attend a town hall meeting or candidate forum to ask the following question about the role of public lands:

The recent events at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon have created a lot of discussion about the role of national wildlife refuges, parks and other federal lands. Some think that public lands should be transferred to states or sold for private use. Is that something that you would support and what do you believe is the role of public lands in the United States?

We’d love to hear the response. Discussing conservation as an important issue in your community will help us better advocate for and protect wildlife refuges, the only federal public land system dedicated to wildlife conservation first.

Have a friend take a video of you asking the question and the reply. Then email the video to us at: nwra@refugeassociation.org. Or, comment on this post with the reply.

Participating in a town hall meeting is simple. Follow these steps.

  1. Contact the offices of your elected officials or candidates for office to get the dates and times of any upcoming town hall meetings. These events are typically posted on the official’s website and advertised in your local newspaper or other local media outlets.
  2. Get prepared for the meeting. Take a copy of the above question. Consider bringing a friend to video you asking the question and the reply.
  3. Attend the meeting. Upon arriving at the town hall meeting, check to see what the procedure is for asking questions.
  4. When called on, ask the following question: The recent events at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon have created a lot of discussion about the role of national wildlife refuges, parks and other federal lands. Some think that public lands should be transferred to states or sold for private use. Is that something that you would support and what do you believe is the role of public lands in the United States?
  5. Tell us about it! Let us know what happened during your town hall meeting. It’s important we get this information so we can better advocate for protection and conservation of wildlife refuges.
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Philadelphia |Ian Shive
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Philadelphia | Ian Shive
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Friends Groups Educate Members of Congress on Wildlife Refuge Issues http://refugeassociation.org/2016/01/friends-groups-educate-members-of-congress-on-wildlife-refuge-issues/ http://refugeassociation.org/2016/01/friends-groups-educate-members-of-congress-on-wildlife-refuge-issues/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:19:21 +0000 http://refugeassociation.org/?p=13114 Friends groups from around the nation convened on Capitol Hill January 19-21 to attend the Stand Up for Wildlife Fly-in, hosted by the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Face-to-face meetings are the most effective way to educate lawmakers and their staffs.

Tim Blount, executive director for Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, meets with Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Tim Blount, executive director for Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, meets with Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Attendees shared personal stories to inform lawmakers and their staffers about how federal budget decisions impact individual wildlife refuges and the Refuge System as a whole. Friends also conveyed how valuable these lands are to the local region.

“It’s critical for Friends to update lawmakers about the wildlife refuges in their districts and how these lands and waters benefit the community,” said Joan Patterson, director of grassroots outreach.

Ray Stainfield, president of Friends of Clarks River (Ky.) and Maggie Morgan, a member of the organization, met with their Senators to discuss how Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars could help the refuge complete much needed corridors between the refuge’s different units. Additionally, the Senator’s office helped them coordinate meetings with House members, who then assisted Mr. Stainfield and Ms. Morgan in setting up meetings in their district. The pair was thrilled to receive this amount of support for Kentucky’s only national wildlife refuge.

Maria Sgambati, president-elect of the Friends of Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges (Fla.), wanted to ensure leaders understand the importance of public lands and are sympathetic to conservation of these lands. One reason she loves refuges is because, in addition to being a space for wildlife, they’re also a place of solitude for people. “I feel restored when in a wildlife refuge,” Ms. Sgambati said. Studies have shown that being outdoors can relax the mind. In June 2015, an article in the Atlantic reported  “Exposure to nature has been shown repeatedly to reduce stress and boost well-being.”

In addition to benefitting mental health, wildlife refuges also benefit the economic health of a community. Tim Blount, executive director of Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, wanted his state’s lawmakers to hear that loud and clear.

“This refuge is an economic driver, returning over $7 in economic activity for every $1 appropriated by Congress to operate it,” Blount said. (As a whole, refuges return $5 to local communities for every $1 invested.) What accounts for Malheur being above average? “There are very little resources–few hotels, restaurants, businesses, etc–for people to spend money at. Malheur draws people, a majority from 2 to 10 hours away, into this area to hunt, fish and go birding,” said Mr. Blount.

Because armed occupants have taken over Malheur, this economic driver is shut down.

In addition to meetings on Capitol Hill, the fly-in also included trainings, meetings with officials from the Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the opportunity to network with other Friends. After the fly-in, Friends traveled to the Service’s National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia for a Service-sponsored national Friends training.

If you are a Friends group interested in having a positive impact on your local community, click for more information, or email Joan Patterson.

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Leaders of the Malheur Occupation Arrested http://refugeassociation.org/2016/01/leaders-of-the-malheur-occupation-arrested/ http://refugeassociation.org/2016/01/leaders-of-the-malheur-occupation-arrested/#comments Wed, 27 Jan 2016 15:25:38 +0000 http://refugeassociation.org/?p=13101
Horned lark at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | USFWS volunteer.
Horned lark at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | USFWS volunteer.

At 11 a.m. PST January 27, law enforcement officials gave a press conference to discuss the latest developments in the armed occupation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing confirmed that a total of eight people were arrested, and one was killed during a traffic stop. While his identity will not be made official until the medical examiner’s office issues its report, several news agencies have reported it was LaVoy Finicum, a spokesman for the group.

Bretzing noted that law enforcement officials made every attempt to bring the occupation to a peaceful end.

“(The occupiers) had ample opportunity to leave peacefully,” he said.

Bretzing also noted six people remain at the refuge, and it is unclear at this point what will happen next.

Harney County Sherriff Dave Ward gave a passionate plea for the remaining occupiers to leave the refuge.

“It’s time for everyone in this illegal occupation to move on,” Ward said. “There doesn’t have to be bloodshed in our community, noting that if people have issues with local, state or federal government, they must act responsibly. “We don’t arm up and rebel,” he said.

“This can’t happen anymore; it can’t happen in America and can’t happen in Harney County.”

The crowd gathered at the press conference broke out into applause.

With armed occupiers still at the refuge, roads remain blocked and various law enforcement agencies are working in cooperation to ensure the safety of everyone in the community.

Jan. 27 10:25 a.m. EST

As news unfolds that the leaders of the Malheur occupation have been arrested, and one was killed in a confrontation with police, we are cognizant that occupiers still remain at the refuge, and the standoff is not over.

We’re still deeply concerned for the safety of our colleagues at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and want you all to know that we support you during this difficult time.

We regret that there has been any loss of life, and we are still are hopeful that law enforcement officials will end this standoff peacefully today.

It’s premature for us to say much more at this time, as we understand that the law enforcement operation is ongoing. We’ll post again when we learn more.

 

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Snowzilla Can’t Stop the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service http://refugeassociation.org/2016/01/snowzilla-cant-stop-the-u-s-fish-and-wildlife-service/ http://refugeassociation.org/2016/01/snowzilla-cant-stop-the-u-s-fish-and-wildlife-service/#comments Mon, 25 Jan 2016 21:46:12 +0000 http://refugeassociation.org/?p=13085 Months of planning for the National Friends Training scheduled for this past weekend (Jan. 22-24) at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia looked like it might all disappear in a whiteout.

NCTCSnow|RichardSkoglund
National Conservation and Training Center in the blizzard | Richard Skoglund

 

Winter Storm Jonas made a direct hit to the Mid-Atlantic region just as the training was beginning, bringing blizzard conditions to major cities from North Carolina to New York.

But the incredible staff at NCTC rallied together with other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff to make sure the training went on as planned, despite a record 40.5 inches of snow that fell at the training center.

A record 40.5 inches of snow fell at NCTC during Winter Storm Jonas, burying cars and stranding Friends Training participants. Credit: Justin Woldt
A record 40.5 inches of snow fell at NCTC during Winter Storm Jonas, burying cars and stranding Friends Training participants. | Credit: Justin Woldt

“The NCTC staff was incredible,” said Desiree Sorenson-Groves, who lives in the Washington, D.C. area and attended Friday sessions before heading home ahead of the storm. “Service staff made sure to accommodate all the out-of-town attendees on site so they wouldn’t have to drive in the storm.” NCTC can accommodate more than 200 guests, with dorms, dining halls and classrooms spread out on a 533-acre campus.

A total of 22 NCTC staff hunkered down on cots in offices and storage closets to ensure the guests were well fed, walkways were shoveled and bathrooms were clean throughout the weekend.

NCTC serves as a library, depository and learning center for Service staff, partners and other conservation organizations and students. The Friends training attracted more than 200 volunteer Friends leaders and Service staff from around the nation who came together to learn best practices for operating their non-profit Friends groups.

National Wildlife Refuge Association President David Houghton gives the keynote address January 23 at NCTC. Credit Richard Skoglund
National Wildlife Refuge Association President David Houghton gives the keynote address January 23 at NCTC. | Credit Richard Skoglund

Along with Sorenson-Groves, Refuge Association staff David Houghton, Joan Patterson and Wieteke Holthuijzen participated in the training, as did Mark Musaus, a Refuge Association Regional Representative (Southeast) who is also a consultant to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Houghton gave the Saturday evening Keynote Address, offering our support for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the Friends of Malheur, who are enduring a standoff at the refuge that is entering its fourth week.

Harv Schubothe, President of Shoreline Education for Awareness in Oregon, Refuge Association President David Houghton and Tim Blount, Executive Director of Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge take a break in the snow while at NCTC. Credit: Marguerite Hills
Harv Schubothe, President of Shoreline Education for Awareness in Oregon, Refuge Association President David Houghton and Tim Blount, Executive Director of Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge take a break in the snow while at NCTC. Credit: Marguerite Hills

“We support the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and the incredible natural and cultural resources of the Refuge” Houghton told the crowd, noting we will be calling on Congress to provide funding to address damages or restoration in the aftermath, as well as robust funding to support the Refuge System.

The weekend was a success despite the storm, with classes and events going on as scheduled thanks to the incredible staff at NCTC.

“The NCTC staff did a really great job,” Musaus said, noting that the storm stranded virtually all the participants at NCTC until Monday.

Hats off to all the NCTC staff – and other Service staff – who worked around the clock to make sure everyone attending had a wonderful, if snowy, experience!

If you are a member of a Refuge Friends Group and would like more information about how to connect with other Friends groups, visit Refuge Friends Connect.

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Dear U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Employees: We Support You! http://refugeassociation.org/2016/01/dear-u-s-fish-wildlife-service-employees-we-support-you/ http://refugeassociation.org/2016/01/dear-u-s-fish-wildlife-service-employees-we-support-you/#comments Thu, 21 Jan 2016 14:18:45 +0000 http://refugeassociation.org/?p=13072

Continue reading »]]> Below is a letter from the National Wildlife Refuge Association and the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to our friends and colleagues at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

To the Employees of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service:

The National Wildlife Refuge Association and the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge support you, the public servants who have dedicated your lives to conserving, enhancing, and restoring our natural resources. We share your frustration and concern about the current situation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Like you, we wish to see this conflict resolved peacefully and quickly.

However, we also understand that there is a lot we do not know about the situation and the considerations that law enforcement professionals are managing. While this is frustrating, our first concern is for the safety of Service staff and their families, along with the nearby community.

As this plays out, we all must contemplate what we as public land stewards can do to address the underlying issues that played a role in creating this standoff. But just as importantly, we must speak up about the great progress that has been made at Malheur and other refuges to resolve conflicts and improve the collaborative spirit of our conservation efforts.

While we acknowledge current conservation and collaborative efforts are far from perfect, we also strive to improve the quality of our partnerships with ranchers, farmers, business interests, and private landowners. With each new partnership, we gain opportunities to learn how to better existing and future conservation efforts. As many of you know, successful conservation requires strong partnerships, and the foundation of these partnerships is based on trust, honesty, and collaboration.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Ore. | Caroline Brouwer
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Ore. | Caroline Brouwer

Public lands are sacred. These lands consist of the rivers where veterans fly fish to assist in the healing process from PTSD, the marshes where a dad takes his son or daughter hunting for the first time, the coastal prairies where birdwatchers catch their first glimpse of an Aplomado Falcon, the open grasslands that become a child’s first memory of an outdoor classroom, and the lands where ranchers teach their children about the history of responsible land stewardship. They are lands that provide a place of solace and safety for everyone. They also contribute to thriving local communities.

Let’s not allow the unlawful acts of a small group of angry individuals impede the progress that thousands of employees at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continue to make to sustain healthy lands, waters, and wildlife in collaboration with ranchers, farmers and other community members across this nation.

The time has come for this conflict at Malheur to end, and we at the National Wildlife Refuge Association and the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge intend to urge leaders in Congress and the Administration to resolve this standoff quickly and bring those responsible to justice.

Your experiences in the field working in collaboration with ranchers, farmers, sportsmen and environmentalists are testament to the fact that the National Wildlife Refuge System is a big tent with room for all Americans. Help us share these success stories to help drown out the noise coming from a small minority.

We posted this letter on the National Wildlife Refuge Association blog so that you can share your collaborative conservation story in the comments. We want to show the American public what collaborative conservation is all about!

On behalf of our respective staffs and boards, and the thousands of refuge supporters we represent, thank you for your service.

Sincerely,

David Houghton, President and Rebecca Rubin, Board Chair, National Wildlife Refuge Association

Tim Blount, Executive Director and Gary Ivey, President, Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

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