Wildlife Refuges on Chopping Block Amidst Budget Cuts
Submitted by Ted Williams on Fri, 10/27/2006 - 07:33.
Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement 1901 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 407 Washington, DC20006 Phone: 202-333-9075 Fax: 202-333-9077 The nearly 40 million Americans who recreate in our National Wildlife Refuges need to know these sanctuaries face a looming crisis. The Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is buckling under the weight of chronic under-funding and a crippling $3.1 billion budget backlog. Without sufficient funding, USFWS can’t adequately manage and restore wildlife habitat, safely maintain facilities and provide quality education and outdoor recreation programs for millions of visitors. Among the victims of the budget crisis, Fish and Wildlife Service professionals in Refuges across the country face widespread job cuts in coming years. The effect of a budget so meager that it can’t cover basic costs such as salaries, benefits and fuel will be to effectively “mothball” many Refuges: little or no staff will be left to manage the rich patchwork of Refuges that form the backbone of America’s crown jewels. The Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region offers a bleak preview of a Refuge System starved for funding: 9 of 10 Northeast Refuges won’t have enough money to pay basic operating expenses by 2013. This crisis threatens to ravage the Southeast Region next, and without sufficient funding, ripple throughout the entire Fish and Wildlife Service. “The Refuge System faces a funding crisis of unprecedented proportions,” said Evan Hirsche, Chair of the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) and President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. If America’s heritage of Refuge protection is to continue, administrators need to hear from the millions of hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts that count these public lands among their favorite places. Now is the time to ask your readers to contact their local Refuge, and tell them to conserve these unique wildlife habitats for future generations. CARE, founded in 1995, is a broad coalition of 21 diverse wildlife, sporting, conservation, and scientific organizations that represent a national constituency numbering more than 5 million.Recognizing the value of a healthy Refuge System to both the wildlife and habitats refuges were established to protect, CARE, highlights the needs of National Wildlife Refuges and works to secure strong investments in these remarkable lands and waters. Contact: Michael Woodbridge (202) 333-9075, [email protected] http://www.fundrefuges.org/CARE/CareHome.html