News Archive 2007
Northeast Region Friends Group Conference Call
The latest NE Region Friends Group conference call was held December 10, 2007 from
6:00 to 7:00pm.
Roll call was taken and Friends Groups reported highlights of their activities since the last call.
Mark Hufford reported on the NWRS budget which was not good news. The National Wildlife Refuge Service is currently operating on a Continuing Resolution, which freezes spending at the 2007 levels. Congress sent the President an Omnibus spending bill (covering most government departments including Interior) that was $22 billion over the budget that he requested. It was vetoed. Then Congress sent a budget $11 billion over President’s original request. He has promised to veto that as well.
Plans were announced for a National Friends Conference scheduled for the 1st weekend in April to be held at NCTC (National Conservation Training Center) in West Virginia.
Work Force Planning Update, Duck Stamps Update, and the Connecting Children with Nature Program were among the other topics discussed.
National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Greenhour Website
The National Wildlife Federation recommends that parents give their kids a "Green Hour" every day, a time for unstructured play and interaction with the natural world. To give parents and caregivers the information, tools, and inspiration to get their kids -- and themselves -- outside, NWF has created GREENHOUR.ORG, a website rich in family-friendly content and which hosts a supportive virtual community where families can learn, explore, and share their outdoor experiences and backyard adventures.
You can search for natural places near you by zipcode or city and state using NatureFind™. The NatureFind tool will display a list of results including web links, direct-mile distance from your starting point, and the recreational opportunities available at each location. While this tool is a great starting place be aware that the listings may not be complete. (We haven't found National Wildlife Refuges listed as of yet.)
Start introducing your children to the wonders of nature today at: http://www.greenhour.org/section/about/naturefind
Refuge Improvement Act turns Ten!
The Refuge Improvement Act was signed into law on October 9, 1997 and is the guiding legislation for how National Wildlife Refuges should be managed. Among other things, the law calls for strategic growth of the System to ensure the conservation of a diversity of species. It also calls for every refuge in the lower 48 states to complete a Comprehensive Conservation Plan, or "CCP" by the end of 2012. A bold and elegant piece of legislation, it has helped refuge managers set priorities and determine parameters on what actions are appropriate and inappropriate at a refuge.
You can download the Act, a short and succinct read for anyone involved with protecting our National Wildlife Refuge System, at our website:
To commemorate the Anniversary, the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) and the FWS held a joint reception on Capitol Hill the evening of October 10th. Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and FWS Director Dale Hall spoke on behalf of the Department of the Interior and Evan Hirsche, President of NWRA and Chair of CARE, assisted by other CARE representatives and Friends from five states, presented six awards to Members of Congress for their outstanding leadership in promoting increased funding for the Refuge System.
National Wildlife Refuge Association testifies on how the Improvement Act is working
Also in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Act, Congress held an oversight hearing, "Implementation of the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act: Has the promise been fulfilled?" The hearing, held by the House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans, looked at successes and failures of enactment.
NWRA President, Evan Hirsche, testified along with former Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt; former EPA Administrator and Chair of the National Audubon Board, Carol Browner; FWS Director Dale Hall; Director of South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources, John Frampton; and General Counsel of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, William Horn.
NWRA's testimony centered on the inability of the FWS to implement many key aspects of the Act due to slashed budgets over the past several years. Another focus was the positive results from completed CCPs, which has led to increased communications with communities and landowners. You can read NWRA's testimony on our website: http://www.refugenet.org/New-issues/NWRS_Funding.html
New Board Members Elected
The day was snowy and blustery so the turnout was small but the Annual Meeting of Members was a productive one. Three board members, William Trout, Kathleen Palmer and Bertie Tullis, were reelected for another two year term. Richard Eakin and a brand new member, Don Copeland were added to the ballot and approved to serve on the board.
Monday night's election brought the board up to eight members. Board membership had dropped to six a couple months ago as we lost Vice President, Bill Wentworth, when he and his wife moved to Colorado. Janet Marvin, Doug Copeland and Ron Leberman will be serving the second year of their two year term in 2008.
If you wished to be added to the ballot but couldn't make it to the meeting don't be disappointed. According to our bi-laws we can have up to 15 members serving on the board. There's ALWAYS room for more! You are welcome to come to the next Board of Director's Meeting to be held January 28th at 7:00 PM at the Refuge Headquarters. We hope to see you there.
Tax dollars well spent... Check out this article in USA TODAY:
Study: Wildlife refuges make up tax costs
Nominations are needed for Board of Directors election!
We have lost two board members to relocation recently and that leaves us at only 6 members at this time, the minimum number needed to keep the board in operation. New board members are desperately needed. Please think about nominating yourself for a position on the board. We can't help the Erie National Wildlife Refuge if we can't even help ourselves! Come to the Annual Meeting on December 3rd and show your support for the Friends and the Refuge. We need you!
FEDERAL DUCK STAMP AND REFUGE ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP
COME WITH STEINER BINOCULARS
MOORESTOWN, N.J.,– Steiner Binoculars has entered into an agreement
with the National Wildlife Refuge Association, NWRA, wherein Steiner will give a Federal Duck Stamp (officially called the “Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp”) and a one year membership in NWRA to those customers who purchase a Steiner Peregrine or Merlin Binocular. The value of this combined gift is $35.00 and is free to the customer when they mail in the fulfillment form and receipts available at Steiner Dealers for a limited time period.
Since 1934, the funds raised from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps have gone to secure wildlife habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Over the seven decades since its creation, the Federal Duck Stamp has collected over $700 million for the acquisition of more than five million acres of wetland and grassland habitat for the Refuge System. And it's not just ducks: numerous other species of wetland and grassland birds are directly protected through these stamp investments. (Many other fish, amphibian, reptile, and mammal species that rely on wetland and grassland habitats have also benefited.)
Fully 98% of all the funding collected through stamp sales (c. 1.6 million stamps annually at $15 each) goes directly to secure refuge habitat - fee-title properties and easements. In fact, some of America's favorite National Wildlife Refuges were made possible through Duck Stamp dollars.
The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NRWA) is dedicated to the growth, improvement, and recreational use of our some 540+ federally controlled wildlife refuges within the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Steiner Binoculars are made in Germany and marketed in North America by Pioneer Research, 97 Foster Road, Suite 5, Moorestown, N.J. 08057; 1-800-257-7742. Visit the Steiner website at www.steiner-binoculars.com and click “special offers” for more information.
At the October Board of Directors meeting December 3rd was picked as the date for the 2007 Annual Meeting for all members. While members are always welcome at board meetings throughout the year, our bylaws state that an annual meeting must be held at the end of each year and all members must be notified of this meeting. During this meeting the election the Board of Directors of the Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge will be held. This is your chance to have a say about who will be leading the group in the coming year.
Returning for the second year of a two year term are Doug Copeland, Ron Leberman and Janet Marvin. The terms have expired for members Bill Trout, Kathleen Palmer, and Bertie Tullis and they are eligible for re-election this year.
On the 3rd we are starting out the evening with a "Pot Luck" supper. This will be a great chance to meet other members and to get to know your Board. Bring a covered dish to share with others and we will provide the fellowship. Hope to see you there!
PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS ANNOUNCED
The Erie National Wildlife Refuge in cooperation with the Presque Isle
Audubon Society and the Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge held the
Eleventh Biennial Nature Photo Contest judging on Sunday, October 14.
Awards were presented by Janet Price, President, Presque Isle Audubon
Society and Bill Trout, President of Erie NWR. Judges for the event were
Suzanne Winterberger, photography instructor at Edinboro University of
Pennsylvania; Mary Birdsong, artist, photographer, and Vice-President of
Presque Isle Audubon Society; and Tom Leech, avid nature photographer and
Vice-President of the Meadville Photography Club.
The contest was a huge success with 132 photos competing in three major
categories: plant life, wildlife and landscape. A special category was
awarded for the best photo taken on the Erie National Wildlife Refuge.
All photograph entries will be on display at the Erie National Wildlife
Refuge Visitor Contact Station through October 31. Visitors should call (814-789-3585) in advance to be certain the Refuge Headquarters is open. There is no charge and the public is invited to view the beautiful photography.
Best Photo taken at the Erie National Wildlife Refuge:
First Place: Steve Parkin, "Timberdoodle Staredown"
AWARDS BY CATEGORY:
First Place: Mark Luikart, "Egret, Cussewago
Second Place: Floyd Lawrence, "Sapsucker Carpentry"
Third Place: Steve Parkin, "Timberdoodle Staredown"
First Place: Tim Lyons, "Partridgeberry"
Second Place: Amy Bish, "Mixed Emotions"
Third Place: Tim Lyons, "Ostrich Fern Fronds Unfolding"
First Place: Steve Parkin, "Upper Falls on Jonathon Run"
Second Place: Chuck Gehringer, "Leaden Sky"
Third Place: Floyd Lawrence, "Steamy Yellowstone Sunset"
Board of Directors Meeting Date Changed
Because of scheduling concerns for some of it's members and the Refuge itself at the September meeting the Board voted to change the date of their monthly meeting. Meetings will now be held on the third Monday of the month. If however, that date happens to fall on a federal holiday the meeting will then be held on the following, or 4th, Monday for that month. The meeting time of 7:00 PM was not changed.
The open door policy is still in effect for these meetings. Any member or interested party are always invited to attend these meetings. Check the newsletter or the website for meeting dates coming up.
June Northeast Region Friends Group Conference Call
Friends of ENWR once again took part in the latest Northeast Region Friends Group Conference Call on June 4, 2007. Topics covered were the recent House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee action to increase the 2008 budget for the Refuge System and training opportunities for Friends and volunteers. Many questions, "training" tips, and suggestions for future classes were shared by participates.
The next conference call date is scheduled for September 10, 2007 from 6:00pm – 7:00pm.
Actions by House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
May 23, 2007 - The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously passed
a "marked up" House Appropriations Bill to provide $451 million for the
Refuge System, $56 million more than was proposed for fiscal year 2008.
The National Wildlife Refuge System was to receive $395 million for
operations and maintenance under the proposed budget, the same level of
funding we are operating with in the current fiscal year. In marking up
the budget bill for the Refuge System, the subcommittee specifically noted
that, this will restore staffing reductions and begin to rebuild the
management capacity in the Refuge System.
The Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement CARE has been calling
for $451 million funding level for the Refuge System. That is also the
amount advocated in a "Dear Colleague"¯ letter signed by more than 80
members of the House of Representatives, including the four chairs and
co-chairs and many other members of the Congressional Wildlife Refuge
The Department of the Interior was proposed to receive 25.7 billion for the
various agencies and programs in FY 2008. The subcommittee provided $27.6
So, what's next? Now, the bill goes to the full House Appropriations
Committee for discussion, debate and passage. That won't happen until
after the Memorial Day recess. If it passes, the bill will be referred to
the Senate. The Senate is also preparing to introduce and mark-up its own
Interior Appropriations legislation, and that bill may have different
funding numbers. So you can see that, although the House Interior
Appropriations Subcommittee's increase is substantial for refuges, the bill
has a long way to go before being signed into law.
New Friends Policy
A first ever Friends policy for the Fish and Wildlife Service Manual has been drafted and prepared by a national Friends policy team of Service representatives from the field, regions and Washington office. The purpose of the policy is to help expand the Service's growing partnerships with Friends organizations; promote consistency on several administrative questions; and, provide guidance on a number of important issues addressing how to establish, build and manage successful community partnerships with Friends organizations. Perhaps more simply put, this policy was developed to help take some of the guess work out of developing and sustaining these partnerships with refuges and other Service programs/sites.
Currently, the draft policy is being reviewed in the Washington office for Service-wide distribution. By the end of April, we hope to distribute the package to the regions for a 60-day review and comment period. We encourage the regions to share the draft policy with their field stations and incorporate those comments in a regional report. After this initial internal review is complete, all regional comments will be carefully considered. An updated draft of the policy will be placed in the Federal Register for public review- anticipated for Fall of 2007. This will provide another opportunity for Friends to review and comment on the policy. The Service will notify Friends about the opportunity to review and comment before the draft policy goes to the Federal Register.
2007 Northeast Region Friends Workshop
Five people from the Friends group and Erie NWR will be attending the 2007 Northeast Region Friends Workshop April 13th - 15th, 2007 at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, located in Philadelphia, PA.
The meeting will provide an opportunity for Friends members to meet and exchange ideas on Friends group projects, successes, membership activities and more. It is also a chance to strategize with regional and refuge staff and other Friends groups on how to meet refuge and Service goals in a downsizing environment. At least 18 Friends Groups and 16 Refuges will be represented at this workshop.
Regional Director, Marvin Moriarty, will be attending the Northeast Regional Friends workshop next month. We have also received word that Mark Musaus, the new Chief of Visitor Services for the National Wildlife Refuge System starting in May will be joining us as well. Mark is currently the refuge manager at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, in Florida. He has been very involved in the Refuge Friends movement, is a former Refuge Manager of the Year, and a key leader in the restoration of the Florida Everglades.
Buy a Duck Stamp, Save Land!
This year the Northeast Region has much to cheer about when it comes to the Duck Stamp. The 2007 Federal Duck Stamp design contest winner is from the state of Delaware. Richard Clifton resides near Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and is an active volunteer and member of the refuge’s friends group. The Duck Stamp art design contest is highly coveted and a great honor for the individual chosen as the winner each year.
Originally created in 1934 as a federal license required for hunting migratory waterfowl, the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or Duck Stamp, now has a much larger purpose as a vital tool for wetland and wildlife conservation. Besides serving as a hunting license and a conservation tool, a current year’s Federal Duck Stamp also serves as an entrance pass for National Wildlife Refuges where admission is normally charged. Duck Stamps and the products that bear duck stamp images are also popular collector items.
In 1989 the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program was introduced as one method of introducing school age children to vital wetlands and conservation related curriculum. The program incorporates scientific and wildlife management principles into a visual arts curriculum. The winning Junior Duck Stamp design is also printed as a stamp and is sold for $5.
Adding to the reasons why every concerned citizen should buy a Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp, below are some important facts that you may not know about the Duck Stamp.
-Ninety Eight percent of funds generated by Duck Stamp Sales goes directly to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
-Since 1934 more than $670 million dollars of Duck Stamp sales has helped protect over 5.2 million acres of habitat in the U.S.
-Numerous bird, mammal, fish, reptile and amphibian species have benefited and rely on these wetlands for continued survival.
-Land purchased with Duck Stamp funds contributes to much of the region’s popular outdoor recreation spots, including top birding and hiking locations.
-Revenue generated by sales of the Junior Duck Stamp funds environmental education programs in all 50 states.
Over the last 30 years, Duck Stamp sales have steadily declined in much of the northeast.
Perhaps this trend can be correlated to the decline of waterfowl hunting, or even the increase of development, especially along coastal areas. What ever the reasons for the decline in sales, the fact is, the Duck Stamp benefits a much larger population, of both wildlife and people.
The Northeast Region is embarking on a Duck Stamp Initiative to increase awareness and the sale of Duck Stamps in the region by at least 5 percent. The challenge runs from July 2007 to July 2008. We are currently gearing up to go “full force” with spreading the Duck Stamp word throughout the Region. Friends groups will play a vital role in helping us achieve this goal and hopefully instilling a long lasting tradition in every person we reach. So stay tuned to learn more about how you and all friends can help with this vital component to increasing the Service’s capabilities of saving more land for the benefit of fish, wildlife, plants, and the American people.
For more information on the Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp Program please visit http://www.fws.gov/duckstamps/. For more information about the Northeast Region Duck Stamp Initiative please contact Jennifer Lapis at Jennifer_Lapis@fws.gov
Happy 104th Birthday!
This month the National Wildlife Refuge System celebrates its 104th year as one
of America's greatest conservation success stories!
We are fortunate to be part of a diverse system of lands that currently comprise more than 545 refuges totaling approximately 96 million acres. As we celebrate this special day, we do not do it alone -- our refuges are important not only to wildlife and to those of us who devote our careers to its mission, but to more than 40 million visitors who explore refuges annually. Given the population density of the Northeast, Region 5 has a particularly important role to play in this conservation story. This year's celebration is even more significant because it sets the stage for celebrating the birth of Rachel Carson, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee and one of the world's foremost leaders in conservation. She would have been 100 years old on May 27 of this year.
Friends of Erie NWR, Inc.
That's right... There's an Inc. behind our name. It's official, the Friends group is now a corporation. Articles of Incorporation - Non-Profit were filled back in November 21, 2006 and at the end of February this year we were finally given the go ahead to publish the legal notices in local newspapers. The purpose of the corporation was restated in these notices for all to see: "to promote conservation, awareness and appreciation of the Erie National Wildlife Refuge and to provide assistance to Refuge programs.”
Happy Birthday to Us!
The Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge is one year old this month. On January 19, 2006 after several months of organizational meetings, a small group of Refuge supporters decided to take the plunge and formally start the organization. Thirteen people filed out membership applications and paid their dues that night and five of them were cajoled into becoming the first Board of Directors.
A lot has happened in a year. We applied for and received grant money to help with start up costs, approved a logo design, developed a website, developed a brochure, started a quarterly newsletter, obtained non-profit status from the IRS, and have started the process of incorporating the organization.
Members of the group have taken advantage of training when available. With the help of scholarships, three members were able to attend a "Working with Friends" workshop at the National Conservation Training Center in W. Virginia. A Mentoring Team visited the Refuge and Friends group facilitating a strategic planning meeting that was well attended.
Friends volunteers have helped with several Refuge events and projects. The group also sponsored five nature programs at the Refuge Headquarters building this past year. The last few months of the year the Friends have been putting all their efforts into organizing the first Guys Mills Heritage Festival featuring an open house at the Erie Refuge for this coming June.
Membership is now up to 32 members and growing every month, the Board of Directors now consists of seven willing members and we are all waiting with anticipation to see what our second year brings.
Refuge Photo Contest
The Erie National Wildlife Refuge found itself in need of a new sponsor for their Photo Contest recently. The Friends group was happy to step in and support this important event. More information will be released later in the year.