National Wildlife Refuge Association Home of the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:36:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Looking Back: Molly Brown, Refuge Volunteer, Advocate and Friend Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:36:00 +0000

Continue reading »]]> Now in her 27th year serving as President of the Friends of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, one of the first groups of its kind, Molly Brown looks back on a career centered upon balancing the needs of wildlife with the wants of people.

Known for testifying before Congress every year from 1989 to 2010 in search of land acquisition funding for Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and for raising over $24 million towards that end, Brown began her career in environmental advocacy as a volunteer more than 27 years ago. As a former 1st-grade schoolteacher, Brown understood that communication and community engagement are keys to the teaching process, and brought that experience to her early years at Back Bay.

“Keeping the local community interested is the key to getting anything done. People have to buy into the refuge’s mission,” Brown said. “The more people we can get to put their feet on a refuge, the better it is for the cause.”

Brown's birth announcement for new eagle chicks delighted all who saw it | Molly Brown
Brown’s birth announcement for new eagle chicks delighted all who saw it | Molly Brown

In 1988, Molly Brown was instrumental in organizing the Friends of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge’s first meeting, which saw 25-30 participants. Primarily focused on land acquisition, Brown made her first trip to Congress the following year to lobby for expansion funding. With only her charisma and passion to guide her, she successfully secured $2 million for the refuge, and a reinvigoration of Back Bay that still continues today had begun.

“You make a lot of enemies fighting for your beliefs. It takes a strong personality and a strong team to come out on top,” Brown said.

The National Wildlife Refuge Association acknowledged seven years of hard work when Brown earned recognition as Volunteer of the Year in 1995. The following year, she was approached with an offer to join the Refuge Association Board of Directors, on which she served faithfully for upwards of 15 years. During that time, Brown encouraged the burgeoning “Friends Movement” that sought to give other refuges what her group had so successfully brought to Back Bay.

In 1997, the Refuge Association sponsored the first meeting of Friends group leaders and Fish and Wildlife Service staff in Virginia Beach, VA. Brown and others created a handbook, “Taking Flight,” that established guidelines to highlight refuge needs and how affiliated groups could address them, and later instituted training programs and seminars for refuge staff and wildlife advocates.

When Molly Brown first arrived on the Board of Directors, she noticed that most of the Refuge Association’s members were insiders – retired refuge managers, and employees of the US Fish and Wildlife Service or Department of the Interior.

“It was an honor to learn from them about how the refuge system worked,” Brown said. “I was still learning at the time, and I’m still learning even today.”

Today, Brown recognizes that those on the board are largely younger, and with that, excitement for the cause of conservation remains fresh. By engaging a younger generation of advocates, she says, the Refuge Association can stay on top of new technologies, which will aid in community organization and fund-raising. Brown attributes the organization’s success in recent years to a “personal touch” – the friendships, common interests, and teamwork that is built into the very organization.

Molly Brown's work has resulted in a revival of bald eagles at Back Bay NWR | Bruce Hallman, USFWS
Molly Brown’s work has resulted in a revival of bald eagles at Back Bay NWR | Bruce Hallman, USFWS

Brown says she needs to look no further than Back Bay Refuge to see the fruits of her career – in her favorite animal, the bald eagle. Before her involvement, no eagles had nested near Virginia Beach in almost 40 years. Just a year after the refuge’s first expansion, paid for by Brown’s pleas to Congress, a pair of eagles settled a nest on federal grounds. Today, with all of its expansions, pairs of eagles can be found on Back Bay throughout the year. After the first eagle chick was hatched on the refuge, Brown sent an excited birth announcement to commemorate the occasion, an affirmation of a career well spent.

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Tigers for Tigers Coalition Launches #WhereAreTheTigers Campaign Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:54:32 +0000

Continue reading »]]> At the National Tigers for Tigers Coalition office, we dream of forests, swamps and tundra where wild tigers are free to roam without fear of falling victim to the violent greed of poachers. We dream of a world as it once was, where less than a century ago, more than 100,000 wild tigers prowled across Asia. Unfortunately, so long as tiger parts remain profitable on the black market, this is a dream that will never again be realized.

Today, less than 3,200 tigers are estimated to remain in the wild. It’s a number that signals a grim reality for the species – and one that leads us to ask #WhereAreTheTigers?

The last remaining wild tigers are spread out across only 7% of their former territory. Large-scale farmers, timber industry workers and developers continue to ravage native tiger habitats in Asia at a breakneck pace, and as a result, most of these tigers are unable to find enough food to feed themselves or their cubs. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that the world’s forests are lost “at a rate of as many as 36 football fields every minute.”

Tiger skins, bones, teeth, claws and whiskers are prized on the black market | Ryan Moehring, USFWS
Tiger skins, bones, teeth, claws and whiskers are prized on the black market | Ryan Moehring, USFWS

But even the wild tigers that can manage to sustain themselves face a far more severe threat – their skin, bones, teeth, claws and whiskers are all highly-prized on the black market, and despite international efforts at regulation, poachers can fetch as much as $50,000 from the parts of a single tiger. And with each successful sale, demand for these parts only grows.

The crisis is by no means beyond our reach as Americans. Sporting one of the largest captive tiger populations in the world, with most outside of zoos and dedicated research facilities, the United States is surprisingly lax when it comes to regulating tigers as pets. In many states, buying a tiger from a breeder is easier than adopting a dog from a shelter, and some don’t even require those who buy tigers to notify local authorities or neighbors! For the estimated 5,000 tigers forced into private ownership, a lack of attention by the US government often means a life of insufficient care, or even death on the black market.

A worse fate still for these captive tigers can be found across Asia, in commercial “tiger farms” that are still allowed to operate legally by the Chinese and other governments. Despite a 1993 ban on the trade and use of tiger parts in China and an international ban on the tiger trade in 1987, there is a growing demand for tiger parts and derived products among Chinese elite as a status of wealth and influence. In the past decade alone, the World Wildlife Fund reports that over 1,000 tigers, many from such tiger farms, have been killed solely to meet the consistently high demand of Asian consumers.

Renowned tiger expert J.A. Mills describes in her recent book The Blood of the Tiger, an estimated 6,000 tigers are bred for their parts like cattle on such farms, and hesitation to confront the Chinese government for these atrocities allows them to operate without interference.

So, #WhereAreTheTigers? They are forced into the shadows to escape poachers, exiled from their historical range. They are being sold off in small parts through illegal markets the world over. They are languishing in our own backyards, longing for support. They are hidden away on tiger farms, where they are treated as a commodity. They are dying by the thousands, and if nothing changes, they soon won’t be anywhere at all.

Today, the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, concluded a trip to Vietnam where she met with government officials to discuss how the US government and the Vietnamese government can work together to put an end to the illegal wildlife trade. Her next stop is China, where she will have similar discussions with top officials of the country that ranks #1 in the world for the illegal wildlife trade.

We have a dream of helping tigers, and we know you do too. But if we are to progress, we need to raise awareness, pressure governments and the international community to regulate the treatment of tigers, and show poachers, wildlife traffickers and tiger farm operators that their business will not be tolerated. Please join us in spreading our #WhereAreTheTigers campaign on your favorite social media outlet, and stay with us for continuing updates on our cause.

Stay tuned for our upcoming Global Tiger Day campaign on July 29th, 2015 and ask yourself: #WhereAreTheTigers?


Go Tigers!

National T4T Coalition Staff



A special thanks to Justin Jacques, Communications Intern from the National Wildlife Refuge Association for crafting this piece.

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House and Senate Appropriations Committees Release 2016 Funding Recommendations Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:29:54 +0000

Continue reading »]]> Over the past few weeks, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees released their draft Fiscal Year 2016 spending bills for the Department of the Interior, including the National Wildlife Refuge System and associated wildlife conservation programs. The bills differ in spending priorities, but overall attempt to keep intact many vital wildlife conservation programs. However, dramatic cuts to programs such as the Environmental Protection Agency as well as problematic riders – including a proposed road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska – have resulted in a Presidential veto threat.

But it’s not just damaging riders that prompted the veto threat. The White House and the GOP-led House and Senate disagree on basic funding levels of all government programs. The President’s budget assumes Congress will end sequestration (mandatory cuts across all government) while leaders in the House and Senate have stated they will not. This means unless there is a compromise regarding government spending, we could be looking at another government shutdown as in October 2013.

Here’s what the White House and Congress have proposed so far with regards to a few key wildlife conservation programs for the next fiscal year:

Refuge System Operations and Maintenance (O&M)

A proposed rider would build a road through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge at the expense of the habitat | Kristine Sowl, USFWS
A proposed rider would build a road through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge at the expense of the habitat | Kristine Sowl, USFWS
  • Current (FY15): $474.2 million
  • POTUS: $508.2 million
  • House: $484 million
  • Senate: $475.2 million

Land and Water Conservation Fund for Refuge System

  • Current (FY15): $47.5 million
  • POTUS: $58.5 million
  • House: $27.5 million
  • Senate: $48.9 million

Although the House and Senate proposals fall short of President Obama’s vision, the House proposal, at least, includes funding recommendations that would provide Refuge System staff the ability to maintain most current levels of service for hunters, birders and all Americans who value the Refuge System for recreational pursuits as well as maintain essential wildlife habitat management projects. Also included in the House bill is a provision to bolster law enforcement resources, totaling a $905,000 increase in funding from the 2014-2015 budget. Much the opposite, the Senate bill proposes cutting funding for law enforcement on refuges by a stark $2 million.

A notable discrepancy between the two bills regards funding for refuge land acquisition and construction: the House bill would cut support for Refuge System land acquisition by $20 million and funding for construction by $2.5 million; the Senate promoted further growth through a proposal to raise the land buying budget by $1.4 million, and the construction budget by $8 million.

Unfortunately, both proposals included damaging riders, which, if passed, could interfere with the essential task of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect American’s wildlife and fish populations.

The Senate bill includes a measure to build a road through Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, situated on an internationally recognized wilderness area. The construction would contradict the position of Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who rejected the proposal in 2013. Bills from both committees support delay on any listing of the greater sage grouse as threatened or endangered, in direct interference with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service obligations under the Endangered Species Act.

Other highlights from the bills include:

  • A proposed $7.4 million increase from the House for the Refuge System maintenance account and a proposed $1 million cut from the Senate;
  • Both chambers would keep funding for Partners for Fish and Wildlife private lands programs at or slightly above 2015 levels, just over $50 million;
  • Both chambers support a slight, $1 million increase to the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund and a slight increase to the State Wildlife Grants Program;
  • Both chambers propose increases to the Multi National Species Conservation Fund, the House by $500,000 and the Senate by about $1 million;
  • Both chambers importantly includes an increase to combat wildlife trafficking which is leading to the catastrophic loss of elephants, rhinos and tigers in the wild;
  • The House includes the President’s request for an additional $4 million to protect the sagebrush steppe ecosystem.

Debate on the floors of both subcommittees will continue through July, and will need to be agreed upon by both parties before formal recommendations are submitted to the White House.

For more highlights from the House of Representatives bill, click here.

For more highlights from the Senate bill, click here.

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Butterfly Garden at Hagerman NWR Attracts People and Pollinators Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:37:07 +0000

Continue reading »]]> Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX is one of the many areas impacted by the intense flooding that devastated Texas and parts of Oklahoma in mid-May. The wildlife refuge is still dealing with the repercussions, one of which has been the postponement of many pre-planned events. One such event is the grand opening of a quarter-acre butterfly garden constructed by the Friends of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, where flowers and trees were planted at the beginning of February.

85% of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is currently underwater | USFWS
85% of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge was underwater at peak flooding level | Russell Daniel, USFWS

The idea for the garden came to the Friends after visiting Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, also in Texas, where they saw a butterfly garden that attracted not only pollinators, but crowds of visitors as well.

Though part of the project’s initial planning was contracted out to Texas Discovery Garden, a Dallas-based sustainability educational center, all planting was done with the elbow grease of the Friends of Hagerman. Sponsors for the garden included a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The Friends of Hagerman have already hosted several events on the refuge, with a special emphasis on engaging children. The group regularly organizes field trips consisting of different stations, each with a different learning focus – at one station the children learn about the life cycle of a butterfly. At another, they get to come face to face with butterflies that have recently hatched. If they are exceedingly lucky, the children can spot a caterpillar munching on milkweed out in the garden. The field trips give children a chance to learn about butterflies, the refuge, and general conservation, all under the disguise of fun in the outdoors.

The garden is already a big draw for the refuge, even despite the delay in its official opening. When families pull up to the refuge, kids hop out of the car and immediately run towards the garden.

Not only is the garden a peaceful place to relax, it also serves as a great learning opportunity for visitors. The garden is composed solely of native plants and acts as a microcosm of the larger refuge. It allows visitors the opportunity to see aspects of the refuge that are otherwise off the beaten path, or hidden away amongst other habitat. The plants are labeled, and visitors can check out a book in the visitor center that gives more information about each plant.

Although the last few months have been especially difficult for Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge and other such lands in the American Southwest, refuge staff is determined to further the mission of the Refuge System towards educating and engaging the community.

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Detroit River Refuge Manager Publishes New Book Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:58:12 +0000

Continue reading »]]> Over a 30-year career working to conserve wildlife in the Great Lakes area, John Hartig has seen and learned an awful lot. Hartig is the Refuge Manager of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, located just south of the automobile capital of America.

Hartig has a first-hand view of a disappointing trend developing along city lines – as technology grows more and more pervasive, urban residents are becoming less and less connected to the natural world around them.

"Bringing Conservation to Cities" is John Hartig's fourth book, released in December, 2014 | Courtesy of John Hartig, USFWS
“Bringing Conservation to Cities” is John Hartig’s fourth book, released in December, 2014 | Courtesy of John Hartig, USFWS

In Hartig’s recent book, titled Bringing Conservation to the Cities: Lessons from Building the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, he notes that a compelling 54 percent of the world’s population now lives in or around urban areas, and that number is steadily rising. With a relative few actual acres of public lands in close proximity to urban centers, wide margins of would-be advocates, hikers and wildlife enthusiasts are being left out of the conservation conversation.

“As a global community,” Hartig said, “we cannot allow this disconnection to continue.”

The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge has grown under Hartig’s leadership to pioneer the idea of bringing conservation efforts into cities. Over the last decade, Hartig had a hand in organizing an effort to remove over 115,000 cubic yards of polluted sludge from the Detroit River. Clean-up crews are also eyeing the Great Lakes, in hopes of attracting plants and wildlife back to their once native habitat.

“Today, the cleanup and recovery of the Detroit River represent one of the single most remarkable ecological recovery stories in North America,” said Hartig.

Bringing Conservation to the Cities is Hartig’s fourth book about revitalizing the Detroit River area, and his past works have not gone unnoticed. In 2013, Hartig received the honor of Conservation Advocate of the Year from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. His third book, Burning Rivers, was a 2011 Green Book Festival first-prize winner in the “science” category. While earlier works largely detail cleanup efforts along the Detroit River, Bringing Conservation to the Cities deals more with international partnerships working to engage urban communities worldwide in environmental affairs.

“If we can bring conservation to the Detroit-Windsor Metropolitan Area and make nature part of everyday urban life in these automobile capitals, we can do it anywhere,” noted former U.S. Congressman John D. Dingell, on the book’s jacket.  “I recommend this book to you, particularly its lessons learned, and hope that it will inspire you to bring conservation to your city.”

For more information about Bringing Conservation to the Cities, and where you can purchase it, click here.

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Bosque Refuge Celebrates Two National Refuge Award Winners Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:08:03 +0000

Continue reading »]]> It was a bittersweet moment at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday, as supervisory biologist John Vradenburg and the Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge received respective refuge awards from the National Wildlife Refuge Association.

Vradenburg, who has been senior biologist at Bosque for nine years, won the 2015 Refuge Employee of the Year Award. Coincidentally, the local Friends Group also won the Molly Krival Refuge Friends Group of the Year Award this year. Both were celebrated at a lunch reception at the refuge with Refuge Association President David Houghton, Refuge System Chief Cynthia Martinez, Deputy Regional Director Joy Nicholopoulos, Refuge Manager Kevin Cobble and about 50 invited guests.

John Vradenburg accepts his award from the National Wildlife Refuge Association. From left to right: Joy Nicholopoulos, Cynthia Martinez, John Vradenburg, Kevin Cobble, David Houghton.
John Vradenburg accepts his award from the National Wildlife Refuge Association. From left to right: Joy Nicholopoulos, Cynthia Martinez, John Vradenburg, Kevin Cobble, David Houghton.

So why bittersweet? John recently accepted a new job at Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, so he and his family are leaving Bosque in July. And, that means Friends of the Bosque Executive Director Leigh Ann Vradenburg, his wife, will be leaving too.

The first award went to John, who got a little choked up when accepting the honor.

Martinez noted John’s long list of achievements, and described him as a Refuge System employee who has taken biological management ‘to the next level.’

“It’s a great honor for me to spend the day with you,” she said.

John has been instrumental in leading the refuge’s wetland water management, which benefits the millions of greater Sandhill cranes, snow geese and other waterfowl that utilize the refuge during migration seasons. He has also led land management efforts that have benefitted two endangered species found on the refuge: the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse and the southwestern willow flycatcher.

Houghton commended John’s ability to not only provide outstanding science-based management at the refuge, but also to explain the sometimes complex conservation efforts to the surrounding community.

“Your work here is exemplary,” Houghton said, before handing John a glass engraved plaque, along with letters of commendation from Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, who were unable to attend. Rep. Steve Pearce, who also was in Washington, DC and unable to attend, sent District Director Barbara Romero, who read a personal letter from the congressman and noted that she has long enjoyed spending time at Bosque del Apache with her family.

After John received his award, the Friends of the Bosque del Apache had a moment in the spotlight.

Friends of the Bosque del Apache NWR accept the Molly Krival Friends Group of the Year Award. From left to right: Leigh Ann Vradenburg, Paul White, David Houghton.
Friends of the Bosque del Apache NWR accept the Molly Krival Friends Group of the Year Award. From left to right: Leigh Ann Vradenburg, Paul White, David Houghton.

“You rock!” said Martinez, who noted that Leigh Ann has been a rising star among Friends leaders, strengthening both the Friends of Bosque and also mentoring other Friends Groups regionally and nationally. She also commended the Friends board of directors, led by Paul White, for winning the national award.

“There is so much we cannot do without our Friends, so thank you,” she said.

Friends of the Bosque is credited with building up the annual Festival of the Cranes birding and outdoor photography fest into a major tourism event that draws thousands of visitors to Bosque each year and has become one of the largest economic drivers in the county.

“This is a successful refuge because of the Friends,” Nicholopoulos said, noting the outstanding leadership of the board, and Leigh Ann, that has resulted in a significant local economic boost, as well as community goodwill toward the refuge.

Houghton took a moment to acknowledge the namesake of the Friends Group of the Year Award, the late Molly Krival, who he said was a pioneer in the Friends movement.

“To win the Molly Krival award is a big deal, because she was a big deal,” he said.

The Refuge Awards were formally announced in March. Receptions for Refuge Manager of the Year Tom Kerr and Volunteer of the Year Wiley ‘Dub’ Lyon will take place later this summer and fall.

The annual awards recognize excellence among refuge system staff, volunteers and Friends Groups who demonstrate outstanding leadership and conservation success on America’s national wildlife refuges. Click here to read more about this year’s winners!

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First Day of Sale for 2015-2016 Duck Stamp Announced Wed, 24 Jun 2015 19:47:50 +0000

Continue reading »]]> The Migratory Bird Conservation Fund recently announced that the winning designs for the 2015-2016 Duck Stamp Contest will be sold to the public for the first time on Friday, June 26. Jennifer Miller, a native of Olean, NY, has been selected as the winning artist of the Federal Contest, and 17-year-old Andrew Kneeland of Rock Springs, WY has won the Junior Contest.

Andrew Kneeland's winning submission for the Junior Duck Stamp Contest | USFWS
Andrew Kneeland’s winning submission for the Junior Duck Stamp Contest | USFWS

For more than 80 years, American artists of all ages have submitted their drawings and paintings, for the coveted chance to see their artwork featured on an annual Duck Stamp.

And for more than 80 years, sales of these Duck Stamps have given invaluable aid to more than 6.5 million acres of wetland habitat around the country, including the countless waterfowl, mammals, insects and reptiles that depend on those areas. 98% of all proceeds from Duck Stamps go directly towards purchasing, leasing or conserving wetland habitats for federal lands.

Miller’s winning painting, an expertly crafted portrait of two ruddy ducks done in acrylics, beat out 186 entries from artists around the country to become this year’s official Duck Stamp. Out of over 24,000 total entrants in Junior Duck Stamp Contests across all fifty states, Kneeland’s acrylic painting of two wood ducks stood out as the winner.

The idea of a Duck Stamp contest to support wetland conservation was first conceived in 1934, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act into law. The Act, which requires waterfowl hunters over the age of 16 to carry a Duck Stamp as they would a hunting license, was meant to incentivize American creativity while also helping to curb the widespread destruction of wetland habitats.

The first Federal Duck Stamp winner, 1934 | USFWS
The first Federal Duck Stamp winner, 1934 | USFWS

While it should be noted that the Duck Stamp is not valid for postage, it does offer holders free admission to any national wildlife refuge that charges an entry fee for an entire year.

The June 26 unveiling will be held at Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid in Memphis, TN, and will feature the two winners signing autographs. In accordance with the recent price increase passed by Congress, the Federal Duck Stamp will cost $25, and the Junior Duck Stamp will be sold for $5. The $10 price increase, the first increase in 24 years, will mean that each year, an additional 17,000 acres of wetland will be supported.

Duck Stamps will be available online, in many post offices, and in many sporting goods and large-scale retail stores that sell hunting and fishing licenses and equipment. Many refuges sell Duck Stamps as well. To find a vendor near you, click here.

To see a gallery of all Federal Duck Stamp entries, click here.

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Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge on Shortlist for Best Scenic Campground Tue, 23 Jun 2015 13:54:53 +0000

Continue reading »]]> Do you love camping, but feel like you’ve seen it all? Are you in search of a truly unique outdoor experience, where over 400,000 acres of pure Georgia wetlands host up-close encounters with wildlife you’ve only seen in zoos? Pitching a tent along the swamps of Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, GA, may well be the trip to satisfy those wild cravings – and keeping dry through the night is just a bonus.

The wildlife refuge, the only public land of its kind nominated alongside 19 other contenders on USA Today and 10Best’s shortlist for Best Scenic Campground, offers visitors the chance to explore the vast Okefenokee wilderness by canoe, at their own pace.

Paddle through the swamp at your own pace - and take in the sights | Anastasia Abramova, NWRA
Paddle through the swamp at your own pace – and take in the sights. | Anastasia Abramova, NWRA

After a day spent paddling and taking snapshots of the refuge’s ensemble of rare birds, tie your vessel to one of many private platforms found all along the swamp, and set up a tent beneath a specially-made canopy for the night. These elevated shelters keep campers safely above the tea-colored marsh, and far away from gators! Watch the sun set beyond the cypress trees in complete solitude, with only the sounds of the swamp to lull you off to sleep.

Though each canoe trail differs in difficulty and can range from calm and soothing to intense and exciting, refuge staff offer opportunities for campers of all skill levels to enjoy Georgia’s truly breathtaking natural wonders. Set up camp independently, or with expert supervision on trips lasting anywhere from between one and four nights.

Of 20 popular campsites across America on the voting block, Okefenokee currently stands at #2, just behind Arch Rock at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. We’re asking wildlife enthusiasts to VOTE for Okefenokee, in hopes that more campers will experience the beauty and nature that can only be found on a national wildlife refuge.

Read Refuge Association staff member Mark Musaus’ account of his recent paddle trip through Okefenokee here.

For more information about camping at Okefenokee, including rules and directions, click here.

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USFWS Crushes 1 ton of Elephant Ivory in Times Square Mon, 22 Jun 2015 19:52:32 +0000

Continue reading »]]> In an historic effort to reduce demand for illegal wildlife parts and to raise awareness about the international poaching crisis, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crushed 1 ton of confiscated elephant ivory in Times Square, the heart of New York City, on Friday.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell addresses crowds at the Ivory Crush on Friday | Sean Carnell
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell addresses crowds at the Ivory Crush in Times Square on Friday | Sean Carnell

A coalition of NGOs from all over the globe, including Tigers for Tigers, came together to witness this symbolic event in one of our country’s most iconic locations. Among others, special guests included Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, actress Kristen Davis, and representatives in Congress from New York State. This year marks the second Ivory Crush event hosted by the United States – the first one occurred two years ago, in Denver.

The message is loud and clear – we need to do everything in our power to discourage illegal trade, increase enforcement and reduce demand for illegal wildlife products and parts. We cannot wait any longer and we need to take action now, before it is too late.

“If we want our children, our grandchildren, to see elephants in the wild and other species, we owe it to them to shut down the market that motivates poachers,” said Jewell.

The U.S. Ivory Crush event is just one of several recent ivory destruction events taking place throughout the world. We hope that other countries will follow, in hopes of stigmatizing the value of illegal wildlife products. Unless a tusk is connected to an elephant, it has no value. Unless we reduce the demand, the poaching will continue. We must stand up and tell the world that this matters to us! Only by shedding light on such dark practices can we end the threat of illegal poaching.

Sculptures - all made of ivory - that were displayed at the event | Sean Carnell
Sculptures – all made of ivory – on display at the event | Sean Carnell

Over the past few years, the United States has made significant advances towards addressing wildlife trafficking, starting with President Obama’s Executive Order on Wildlife Trafficking in 2013. The establishment of a National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking followed suit, as did the introduction of the Wildlife Trafficking Act of 2015 and the new Global Anti-Poaching Act. There is still more work to be done, but we are very confident that change is coming, and Tigers for Tigers will continue to tirelessly support these efforts.


For more information about the Ivory Crush, click here.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


All the best,

Sean Carnell
National Coordinator
National T4T Coalition

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Interning at a National Wildlife Refuge Offers Great Work Experience Wed, 17 Jun 2015 18:21:38 +0000

Continue reading »]]> The National Tigers for Tigers Coalition has recently partnered with the National Wildlife Refuge Association to provide special internship opportunities for Tigers for Tigers members on various refuges throughout the country.

Robin Lloyd, a Zoology and Animal Biology major at Auburn University, is interning this summer at Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge in western Kentucky. Robin, a junior, has been involved with Tigers for Tigers this past year alongside sophomore Jessie Schieler. I sat down for a quick Q&A with Robin about his internship and time at Clarks River.

Clarks River NWR Intern Robin Lloyd helps manage a beaver dam|Robin Lloyd
Clarks River NWR Intern Robin Lloyd helps manage a beaver dam | Robin Lloyd

C: What have you done so far/what are your duties as an intern?

R: As an intern as Clarks River it is hard to say what my duties are in a routine nature. Something new and unexpected happens every day. The internship is 75% maintenance work and 25% wildlife biology, education and policy work. A few examples of things I have done on the refuge include beaver dam control to preserve bottomland hardwood habitat, migratory bird banding with mist nets, environmental education from small children to college adult level, raptor rehabilitation from an injured kestral we are taking care of at the refuge, animal rescues in the community (turkeys, raccoons, groundhogs, etc.), community outreach with the people of Benton, KY and of course landscaping of the refuge. Each day is something new that keeps the internship exciting.

C: Have you been to a wildlife refuge before your internship? 

R: The only other wildlife refuge I can think of that I have been to is Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. Although when I went to Okefenokee at the time for a fishing trip I did not know the major difference between a refuge and a park. A short version of a difference is that a refuge is for conservation and a park is for preservation.

C: What were you expecting out of your internship?

R: I was expecting a good work environment to develop crucial work ethic skills that I could later use in life. Working at Clarks River has given me just that and much more. I have learned valuable skills that will help me to become a better biologist and have acquired some great connections.

C: What’s one thing you’ve learned so far?

R: A few things I have learned working at Clarks River is bird banding, working with other people, educating other people about conservation, public policy, and some of the complex problems working in the government.

C: What’s it like interning on a refuge?

Robin Lloyd (far left) with other interns at Clarks River NWR|Robin Lloyd
Robin Lloyd (far left) with other interns at Clarks River NWR | Robin Lloyd

R: Interning at Clarks River is great. The land is absolutely beautiful and the people I work with – I feel like I have known them for years! Clarks River has given me nice lodging and work vehicles to use for work around the refuge. My boss Michael Johnson is a great guy and is very approachable, knowledgeable and fair with everyone who works at the refuge. He is a straight shooter and does not beat around the bush. I am taking an online genetics class at night and everyone at the refuge has been real understanding and has been helping me out in any way possible.

C: Would you recommend the internship to other students?

R: I would recommend the internship to other students. It is a great experience and you will learn a lot working here, but I will warn it is a lot of work and someone who does not have a good work ethic could not work here.

C: What’s been your favorite moment/day so far?

R: My favorite day was the first day of migratory bird banding. In one of our mist nets we caught a huge and beautiful pileated woodpecker. I got to help out with the survey, and I released the bird.


In addition to interning at Clarks River, Robin just finished up his first trip to Washington D.C. advocating for better wildlife trafficking policy. Go Robin! Stay tuned to hear more about other T4T members who are interning this summer.

Go Tigers!

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