Dear friends and supporters,
In October 2011, the USFWS released their bold new vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System called Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation. This new vision called upon all of us to accept the challenge to conserve America’s iconic National Wildlife Refuge System through optimism and innovation.
The Service has worked hard to meet this challenge even though declining budgets, a 2013 government shutdown and ongoing efforts by some in Congress to undermine the System’s integrity, has made it difficult. The National Wildlife Refuge System has made significant strides in landscape conservation, and with the expansions of Marine National Monuments by President Obama, now encompasses almost 1 billion acres of water and land, the largest system of public lands on planet Earth.
If the National Wildlife Refuge System was a country, it would be the 7th largest country in the world!
The Refuge Association is proud to have supported the Service at every step of the way to help achieve success, and more than anyone, we have worked hard to beat back harmful proposals from Congress that threaten the System. We marvel at the dedication and passion of the 3000 employees of the Refuge System and we look forward to what we can do together in the next five years — and the next fifty years!
As the Refuge System continues to Conserve the Future, we will always be there, ensuring staff has the resources they need; that the American public has opportunities to experience meaningful wildlife dependent recreational pursuits, and that our shared wildlife heritage endures for the next generation of citizens.
My sincere gratitude to every Refuge System employee and advocate who has made the last five years such a success and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
David Houghton, President
ON THE REFUGE
Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge Faces Challenges
West of Palm Beach, Florida, you can explore one of America’s iconic refuges, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1951 and designated as an urban wildlife refuge by the Service, the refuge provides great recreational opportunities for avid hunters, sportsmen, anglers, photographers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts. The Visitors Center provides state-of-the-art interpretative exhibits, environmental education programs, and a beautiful butterfly garden. Refuge staff are making significant strides by cultivating partnerships with the multilingual community and faith and youth organizations to help the South Florida community gain a sense of environmental ownership and connection to this treasured gem within the National Wildlife Refuge System.
For more than 60 years, the refuge, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have worked together to conserve this incredible landscape that belongs to each and every one of us. The Service has been managing Loxahatchee NWR to conserve native wildlife and habitats, perform cutting edge research, and provide wildlife-compatible recreational opportunities for all.
Loxahatchee NWR is facing challenges that have been affecting the entire Everglades landscape, which include the spread of invasive plant species. Congress continues to inadequately fund the Refuge System which has resulted in a modest $9 million budget to address invasive species across the entire Refuge System.
As a result, the refuge has been unable to eradicate all invasive species by 2017 as required by its lease with the SFWMD. The SFWMD argues that the Service should be removed as the manager of the refuge. Unfortunately, this will not resolve the problem. The only solution to address the extreme infestation is collaboration between all stakeholders.
Loxahatchee requires a minimum of $5 million annually for the next five years to bring the invasive species under control. This year, the Service and the FWC exceeded that goal, contributing $2.9 million and $2.5 million respectively toward invasive species control efforts. Time and again across the Refuge System, partnerships have proven to be the most effective method for protecting our nation’s most important and threatened ecosystems for wildlife and future generations of Americans.
The Refuge Association continues to seek such collaboration at the Loxahatchee NWR and we will passionately fight to keep the refuge as one of the jewels in the entire System.
The Million Dollar Duck
Earlier this month, Animal Planet premiered the award-winning documentary about the Federal Duck Stamp called The Million Dollar Duck! Every year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hosts an art competition for the artwork of the following year’s Duck Stamp. If you missed the premier, you can rent the film on Amazon or iTunes. You can also purchase a Duck Stamp to support the acquisition of critical waterfowl habitat.
THE REFUGE ASSOCIATION IN ACTION
Meet Our New Intern: Anna Grubb!
Hello everyone! My name is Anna Grubb, and I am the new Conservation Programs and Outreach Intern for the Refuge Association here at our headquarters in D.C. I will be helping with a nationwide Friends Group assessment, that aims to help both the Refuge Association and FWS better serve their needs, which is very exciting. I will also be working with our Beyond the Boundaries programs in coastal Texas, Hawaii, and Alaska.
I just came from almost a year as a Community Outreach and Development Intern at the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society- the Friends group of the J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR (hence the manatee in my picture!). Before that, I graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Ecology and Conservation. Originally, I am from Duxbury, Massachusetts.
Really, I’m just like everyone else- looking for the perfect bagel and restraining myself from buying 14 puppies at once. I enjoy a good Michael Jackson dance party, traveling, a great farmers market and Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is my idol. I’m really excited to be here in D.C. and at the Refuge Association, so email me to say hi at email@example.com and check out some of the posts I’ve been doing on our Instagram page!
Congress Passes a Continuing Resolution to Fund the Government through Early December 2016.
On September 28th, Congress passed, and the President signed, a bill to fund the government at current levels through December 9th with a Continuing Resolution, or “CR”. The CR also includes additional funding to address the Zika virus and flood relief for Louisiana. Additional funding for the Flint, Michigan water crisis, an issue which upheld final passage of the bill, will be addressed during the Lame Duck session of Congress after the election.
- Appropriations: We will work to increase overall spending levels for conservation programs and remove damaging policy riders;
- Energy bill: contains a harmful provision to prohibit the Service from implementing a rule that clarifies allowable practices for the non-subsistence take of wildlife on refuges in Alaska ;
- Newly introduced legislation that would create a Congressional finding that the U.S. FWS did not acquire submerged lands at the Monomoy NWR in MA in 1944 when the refuge was established;
- Defense Authorization bill: contains a harmful provision that would transfer management authority of much of the Desert NWR in Nevada to the U.S. Air Force.
Desert National Wildlife Refuge Under Pressure
At 1.6 million acres, Desert National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada is America’s largest wildlife refuge outside Alaska. Efforts to transfer management authority from the Service to the U.S. Air Force for most of the refuge are ongoing on two fronts.
First with the Defense Authorization bill, where the House version would transfer management authority of parts of the refuge from the FWS to the DOD. The Senate version does not include the provision and we will be working hard to ensure it does not remain in any final bill.
Second, in mid August, the U.S. Air Force announced plans to create a Legislative Environmental Impact Statement (LEIS) to facilitate the transfer of primary jurisdiction of approximately 300,000 acres of the Desert NWR from the Service to the Air Force. The FWS shares jurisdiction of 826,000 acres of the refuge with the Air Force as part of the Department of Defense’s 2.9 million-acre Nevada Test and Training Range. The Air Force has primary jurisdiction over 112,000 acres of the refuge, which are off-limits for public access due to bombing exercises and other military training operations.
While the FWS supports the existing Department of Interior-Department of Defense relationship, in a year that has produced an onslaught of unrelenting attacks on the Refuge System, this latest push to take over hundreds of thousands of refuge lands is unacceptable.
The Air Force is seeking comments from the public on their proposal. This is your chance to take action and explain why it is so important that these refuge lands remain under the sole jurisdiction of the FWS.
You can learn more about Desert National Wildlife Refuge and the threats it faces from this potential land withdrawal by checking out the Friends of Nevada Wilderness’s website.
Every year, the National Wildlife Refuge System comes together to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week during the second week of October. Find a local event near you!
Celebrate Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge’s 40th Anniversary!
Come join us for a day of FREE, fun-filled activities as we celebrate MN Valley NWR’s 40th Anniversary, Saturday, October 8 from 9am to 4pm at the Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd. E., Bloomington, MN. Hands-on activities and demonstrations led by Refuge staff and partner organizations including archery, fishing, a live birds of prey show, how to make a bird house, call in a wild turkey or hiking trails are all included in this day of celebration at locations throughout the Refuge.
For more information click here: https://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147594132
Food Trucks available from 11am to 2pm; Ceremony and cupcake celebration at 1pm
Bring the family and friends!
Keep an eye out for these upcoming events:
- October 9-15: Refuge Week!
- October 22: Make a Difference and Help Support Public Lands Clean-up!– Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (NJ)
- October 30: Guided Birding with Harry Armistead– Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
The National Wildlife Refuge Association is on the cutting edge of wildlife habitat conservation and citizen engagement in the United States. But we need your help to advance our work protecting large landscapes, educating decision-makers in Washington, and mobilizing refuge Friends in support of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Please make a generous donation today!
Flyer Masthead Photo Credit: Kestrel, Wade Dowdy