The Flyer E-Newsletter May 2017

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FROM THE PRESIDENT:

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Dear Friends,

I am deeply honored to be chosen to serve as President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. We have an extraordinary team here at the Refuge Association, working hard and diligently to protect and conserve our nation’s greatest system of public lands, the National Wildlife Refuge System. As our organization starts a new chapter, we sincerely want to say thank you to all of our friends and supporters who have worked with us to support our great work.

I have spent my entire career protecting and promoting public lands, and I am looking forward to this next chapter with an organization that I believe in deeply. I look forward to working collaboratively with our board, staff, partners and you our supporters to continue this incredibly important mission.

I wish my first message as President to you all could be all about good positive news but that isn’t possible based on recent actions taken by the Trump Administration. Our National Wildlife Refuge System continues to face emerging threats here in Washington D.C. on issues such as the Pacific Marine Monuments, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, funding for the Refuge System, and more.

President Trump is making good on his promises to open pristine areas to damaging oil and gas drilling while simultaneously pulling the United States out of a Climate Change agreement signed by nearly every nation on the planet. His policies of drilling for fossil fuels and rejecting renewable energies while despoiling our nation’s most pristine places does not reflect the views of the majority of Americans.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge currently faces pressure to extract resources out of our nation’s most pristine, untouched national wildlife refuge. On May 31st, Interior Secretary Zinke announced a Secretarial Order (#3352) directing his staff to begin a new assessment of the oil reserves in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge in Alaska. In so doing, he stated that he would allow oil companies to do seismic studies in the refuge, something that hasn’t been allowed since the 1980’s.  We are appalled by this outcome; however, we will continue to work with our partners and your help to address these emerging threats.

Seismic studies have detrimental impacts to wildlife, regardless of how carefully they are conducted. Vehicles and machinery used in the 1980’s during the last seismic studies left impacts on the Refuge that are still being felt – from significant damage to vegetation that takes decades to repair given the fragile tundra, to impacts to polar bears who are especially sensitive to disturbance during denning. In 1985, a female polar bear abandoned her maternity den in the Arctic Refuge coastal plain after seismic exploration vehicles tracked within 700 feet of it—even though regulations at the time required a 0.5 mile buffer from known dens. This occurred despite the most extensive monitoring program ever in place for seismic exploration on the North Slope. Most maternity den sites are never known, and therefore cannot be avoided.

Regardless of studies, Congress – and only Congress  – can open the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas drilling. President Trump’s recent budget proposal included $1.8 billion in revenue from drilling in the Arctic Refuge. To put it in perspective, here are some other things that cost our nation $1.8 billion: about a day and a half worth of interest on our national debt; half of a Stealth bomber; or 16 days of tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans. President Trump would trade the pristine wilderness of the Arctic Refuge and it’s coastal plain – one of the most biologically important places on the planet – for this.

The marine national monuments, established by President Bush, and recently expanded under the Obama Administration, are currently under review by the Secretary of the Interior. The Refuge Association is currently working with land and ocean conservation organizations to design a public awareness campaign and to mobilize constituents to advocate for our nation’s important marine national monuments.

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge continues to face pressure from the state of Alaska to build an 11-mile road through designated wilderness to connect the towns of King Cove and Cold Bay. Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to authorize a land exchange from the federal government to the state of Alaska, transferring 43,000 acres of state lands in exchange for the 200 acres of federal lands needed to construct the road. In response, the Refuge Association has mobilized over 100 Friends Groups across the nation to oppose the transfer and will continue to work with Congressional leaders to address the issues.

Despite these challenges, I am confident that the American public will continue to fight for their public lands and for their love of wildlife that this great nation has to offer.

We live in difficult times and it seems like everyday there are new threats to our national wildlife refuges. I promise with your help, that we will vigilantly oppose the proposals that are so detrimental to our environment and to our refuges that we all cherish.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey L Haskett

President

ON THE REFUGE:

Coral reef off Midway Atoll NWR, Papahanaumokuakea MNM | Tandem Stills + Motion
Coral reef off Midway Atoll NWR, Papahanaumokuakea MNM | Tandem Stills + Motion

Life on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

Dr. Rob Taylor, a restoration ecologist for the Refuge Association, has been living on the beautiful Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, located on the far northern end of the Hawaiian archipelago, to restore its habitat to native plant species.

Using GPS coordinates, Dr. Taylor maps out the refuge so that his team can get a better sense of where invasive species are on the island to prepare and execute strategic plans. The goal of the project is to create integrated restoration data management systems that be can shared and adapted for other Pacific Islands habitat restoration projects.

For Dr. Taylor, life on Midway has been an experience of a lifetime to gain new skills and to expand his professional horizons. Despite some of the challenges, and being isolated from family, Rob has been able to reflect on his experience through a personal blog. To learn more about Rob’s experience, click here.

REFUGE ASSOCIATION NEWS:

Celebrating the 2017 National Wildlife Refuge System Awards
Celebrating the 2017 National Wildlife Refuge System Awards

A Night Worth Celebrating – Our 2017 Awards Gala

In late May, conservation leaders, volunteers, and refuge system staff gathered to celebrate the individuals and groups who work tirelessly to make our national wildlife refuges the greatest network of protected lands in the world. The work of protecting refuges has continued since the first refuge was created at Pelican Island in Florida in 1903, and continues to this day with the help of everyone who was present at our 2017 Awards Gala on May 24th, along with tens of thousands of others around the country. It was an honor to present our 2017 Refuge System of the Year Awards to our deserving recipients. This is the 24th year that the Refuge Association has presented these awards.

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The Refuge Association’s Urban Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Programs partners with Soul River, Inc.’s Leadership in Environmental Advocate Development (LEAD) to the Florida Everglades.

The Refuge Association has been partnering with Soul River, Inc., to get youth and veterans out in the wild. Soul River, Inc. is a not for profit organization focused on merging military veterans and inner city youth to be leaders for environmental justice. Last year, Soul River, Inc. led a “deployment” of veterans and youth leaders to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and this year, they’ll be exploring the other end of the United States – the Everglades.

Soul River, Inc. will be leading youth leaders from their Leadership in Environmental Advocate Development (LEAD) program and U.S. military veteran companions on a trip to the Florida Everglades later this month (June) for a week-long tour to explore, experience, engage and enjoy the wonders of this iconic wetland ecosystem. LEAD leaders begin at one of the most iconic gems in the National Wildlife Refuge System – Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. From there, they will journey through areas near Clewiston, Immokalee, Manatee and Sarasota Counties with stops to learn about the sugar industry, cattle farming operations and management, wildlife, and one of the state’s most diverse natural areas – Myakka State Park. Concluding their tour at the world-renowned J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

To learn more about Soul River Inc.’s LEAD Florida Everglades tour or our work in the Florida Everglades contact Joy Blackwood, Urban Wildlife Refuge Program or Julie Morris, Florida & Gulf Coast Program Manager.

INSIDE WASHINGTON:

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President Trump Announces Significant Cuts to the National Wildlife Refuge System

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump released his FY18 budget, which recommends significant cuts to the National Wildlife Refuge System and important conservation programs, such as the Partners for Fish and Wildlife, North American Wetlands Conservation Act and State & Tribal Wildlife Grants. The Refuge System’s Operations and Maintenance budget received a $14 million decrease from last year’s allocation, which hampers the ability of the Refuge System to meet its conservation mission. The Land and Water Conservation fund (LWCF), which is used to conserve working lands through the acquisition of conservation easements, received a 66% cut.

The FY18 budget also recommends drilling for oil and gas in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Oil and gas development in the Arctic would be detrimental to our nation’s wilderness values, pristine landscapes, wildlife heritage, and local indigenous people. The Refuge Association will continue to work with Friends Groups and all of you, to protect and conserve our National Wildlife Refuge System from emerging threats in Washington D.C.

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President Trump Signs Executive Order Directing Secretary Zinke to Review National Monuments

In late April, President Trump signed an Executive Order directing Secretary Zinke to review the designation of 27 national monuments that have been established or expanded under the previous three administrations.

Under the Antiquities Act, the President has the authority to establish national monuments to permanently protect America’s most important natural, cultural, and historical sites.

No President has sought to rescind the designation of a national monument until now. All six monuments within the Refuge System are included in the review, and all are an integral part of wildlife conservation within the Refuge System.

Refuge System Monuments at Risk:

  • Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
  • Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument
  • Marianas Trench Marine National Monument
  • Rose Atoll Marine National Monument
  • Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument
  • Hanford Reach National Monument (Washington)

We must protect our national monuments and the wildlife that thrive in them. We need your help and support. Learn more about how you can take action today.

Take Action

Protect Your National Wildlife Refuge System:

The National Wildlife Refuge System needs your support now more than ever. Your public lands are at risk and continue to face new threats every week.

Please consider making a contribution to the National Wildlife Refuge Association today to support our advocacy work in Washington DC to fight harmful legislation to ensure that you and future generations can enjoy your national wildlife refuges.

Donate Today

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Support the National Wildlife Refuge Association today with a donation to help us fight threats in Washington D.C.

If you do not wish to make a donation, be sure to like us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to join the conversation to protect your National Wildlife Refuge System.

Permanent link to this article: http://refugeassociation.org/news/flyer/the-flyer-may-2017/