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CARE Releases “America’s National Wildlife Refuges: Good for Wildlife and for Business”

This morning, the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement released America’s National Wildlife Refuges: Good for Wildlife and for Business that highlights the “Big Six” wildlife dependent uses on wildlife refuges.

National wildlife refuges not only provide a haven for wildlife, they are also where millions of Americans go to enjoy outdoor recreation. This report shows that with more than 47 million visitors each year, the National Wildlife Refuge System also provides a boost to local economies providing a 388% return on investment: for every $1 appropriated, $4.87 is returned.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 1.30.35 PMThe report highlights the wildlife conservation benefits of the refuge system and the “Big Six” wildlife-dependent recreational uses offered on most refuges:

  • Environmental Education;
  • Interpretation;
  • Photography;
  • Wildlife Observation;
  • Hunting; and
  • Fishing.

“America’s wildlife refuges are incredible resources for local communities, driving tourism and stimulating economic activity,” said David Houghton, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, which leads the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE). “More than $2.4 billion is generated by the ‘Big Six’ recreational endeavors on wildlife refuges.”

The CARE coalition is comprised of 23 wildlife, sporting and conservation organizations that span the political spectrum, representing 16 million Americans who value outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation.

CARE estimates that the refuge system needs at least $900 million each year in operations and maintenance (O&M) funding to properly care for the 468 million acres of lands and waters it is responsible to manage. At its highest funding level in FY 2010, the system received little more than half the needed amount—$503 million.

The National Wildlife Refuge System has a total of 562 refuge units. Of those:

  • 65% are open to hunting;
  • 54% are open to fishing;
  • All 38 wetland management districts are open to both hunting and fishing;
  • 82% are open to photographers;
  • 70% have environmental education programs for the public.

In a nutshell, these are places where Americans go to connect with the outdoors.

The refuge system is also critical for wildlife – in fact its primary mission is the conservation of the nation’s wildlife:

  • 98% of all wildlife refuges are home to at least one threatened or endangered species;
  • 59 wildlife refuges were established specifically to protect endangered species; and
  • More than 200 wildlife refuges were created specifically for migratory birds.

Click here to see the full Press Release.

Click here to view a downloadable PDF of the report.

Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island Honored by the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement

CARE Award9
From left to right: Graham Taylor, Refuge Supervisor for Region 5, Charlie Vandemore, Project Leader, Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Cathy Sparks, Assistant Director for Natural Resources, Richard Thieke, President of Friends of Rhode Island NWR, David Houghton, President of The National Wildlife Refuge Association, Senator Jack Reed, Sharon Marino, Deputy Chief of Refuges for Region 5, Wendi Weber, Northeast Regional Director, USFWS, Scott Kahn, Regional Chief of the NWR System, Terry Sullivan, The Nature Conservancy RI State Director. | Emily Paciolla

This morning, August 14, Senator Jack Reed, D-RI, was presented with the 2014 Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement
(CARE) Award for his outstanding support of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Reed, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, has been a longtime supporter of adequate funding for America’s wildlife refuges and has demonstrated his commitment to conservation through his leadership in Congress.

“Sen. Reed is one of the strongest supporters of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said David Houghton, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, which leads the CARE coalition. “But his efforts this past year stand out. The Refuge System was facing massive budget cuts that would have meant layoffs, refuge closures and major economic impacts for communities that depend on nearby refuges for tourism and recreation. But thanks to Sen. Reed’s leadership, the Refuge System received a 4-percent budget increase at a critical time.”

CARE Award6
David Houghton, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, presents Senator Reed with his award, a Pipping Plover Carving. | Emily Paciolla

Community leaders, refuge staff, and local supporters all came out in support of Reed, a native of Cranston, RI, who is very familiar with the Refuge System, with five national wildlife refuges in his state. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which did nearly $70 million in damage to several Northeast refuges, Reed made a point of ensuring the refuges and surrounding communities impacted by the storm received federal funding to repair the damage and make them more resilient to future storms.

The award was presented at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middleton, RI. The 242-acre refuge provides an important stopover and wintering area for migratory birds and is an economic asset to the local community.

CARE Award4
Wendi Weber, USFWS Northeast Regional Director, addresses a group of community leaders, refuge staff and local supporters before the presentation of Senator Reed’s award. | Emily Paciolla

The CARE coalition is comprised of 23 wildlife, sporting and conservation organizations that span the political spectrum, representing 16 million Americans who value outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation. For more information about CARE, please visit fundrefuges.org

Click here to view the full press release.

CARE Releases “America’s National Wildlife Refuges: Home for Wildlife, Haven for Wildlife Enthusiasts”

This morning, the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE)  released a new report, “America’s National Wildlife Refuges: Home for Wildlife, Haven for Wildlife Enthusiasts.” According to the report, the steady decline in congressional funding is threatening the economic vitality of hundreds of local communities that rely on the tourism and recreation dollars that refuges provide.

Without adequate funding for basic maintenance and repairs, refuges will be forced to reduce visitor services and wildlife habitat management, which will reduce opportunities to hunt, fish, and view wildlife on refuge lands.

“More than $2.4 billion generated in local economies is at stake,” said David Houghton, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, which leads CARE. “National wildlife refuges are economic engines, but without sufficient funding from Congress, those engines are going to stall.”

The CARE coalition is comprised of 23 wildlife, sporting and conservation organizations that span the political spectrum, representing 16 million Americans who value outdoor recreation, scientific research and wildlife conservation. The report notes the benefits wildlife refuges provide, and also what is at stake if funds were to be cut.

Among the report highlights:

  • In FY 2013, more than 38,000 people spent 1.4 million hours volunteering on refuges, a contribution worth an estimated $31 million, or the equivalent of 702 full-time employees;
  • Volunteers at Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, WV | USFWS
    Volunteers at Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, WV | USFWS

    Nearly 47.5 million people visited national wildlife refuges last year, and their spending supported 35,000 private U.S. jobs;

  • The jobs created by and around refuges generate an estimated $800 million in employment income and adds nearly $343 million in local, state and federal tax revenue;
  • Nearly 31 million refuge visitors participated in wildlife watching in FY2013—representing about 65-percent of all visits to the Refuge System;
  • The 364 refuges open to hunting and 303 open to fishing, as well as all 38 wetland management districts open to both activities are some of the best places for these sports, which generated a combined $89.8 billion spent on hunting and fishing;
  • The ‘ecosystem services’ that refuges provide, such as clean drinking water and storm buffers, are worth an estimated $32.3 billion, or $65 for every dollar Congress invests in the Refuge System.

The report also noted several examples of how budget cuts are taking a toll:

  • In Alabama, Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge is expected to experience a drop of at least 80-percent in volunteer support due to the loss of coordinating staff, and Bon Secour Refuge has already seen its volunteer contribution annually decline by 2,000 hours—a loss of about $44,000 in donated time;
  • In South Carolina, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge was forced to cancel its December archery hunt last year because of staff shortages and budget reductions;
  • Disabled hunt at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge | USFWS
    Disabled hunt at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge | USFWS

    Cokeville Meadows Refuge in Wyoming was unable to open a long-awaited hunting season this year due to a lack of adequate staffing to process hunting regulation updates, resulting in strained relationships with state and local partners;

  • At Fish Springs Refuge in Utah, staff fell two weeks behind on refilling a major refuge wetland unit, which significantly reduced the area available for waterfowl hunting;
  • At Aransas Refuge in Texas, a fishing pier is one of 12 public facilities shut down because the loss of maintenance staff has left the refuge unable to ensure such structures are safe.
  • At Virginia’s Chincoteague Refuge, the number of environmental education participants in FY 2013 was 1,700—less than half what it was just five years prior due to budget cuts.

 

Click here to view the full press release.

Click here to view the full report.