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December 2010

NWRA Applauds Congress for Supporting Wildlife Refuge Friends and Volunteers

Washington, DC – The National Wildlife Refuge Association today applauded Congress for supporting volunteer programs on our national wildlife refuges. Passage of the National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act will increase opportunities for citizens to volunteer on our national wildlife refuges and bolster the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to develop a national strategy for coordinating volunteer efforts.

“Refuge Friends and Volunteers are a cornerstone in helping the Fish and Wildlife Service achieve critical wildlife conservation and public outreach goals on our national wildlife refuges,” said Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “Never has this been more apparent than in the overwhelming outpouring of Friends and volunteer support in connection with the BP oil spill this past summer.”

With 553 national wildlife refuges throughout all states and territories conserving a total of 150 million acres - the National Wildlife Refuge System is the world’s premier wildlife conservation system. America’s national wildlife refuges are invaluable to wildlife and offer outstanding opportunities for people to experience and appreciate our natural world - there’s a national wildlife refuge within just an hour’s drive of nearly every major metropolitan area.

Each year Refuge Friends and volunteers perform roughly 20% of all the work done on national wildlife refuges. In 2009 they contributed more than 1.4 million hours or the equivalent of 665 full-time employees - a value exceeding $28 million! From helping with habitat conservation projects and environmental education programs to organizing recreational opportunities like hunts and fishing derbies, Refuge Friends and Volunteers are vital to our national wildlife refuges.

Passed by both houses of Congress, the National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act awaits final approval from President Obama before being enacted as law.

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.

Dan Ashe Nominated as Director

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar praised President Obama’s nomination of Dan Ashe to be the next Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ashe currently serves as the agency’s deputy director. “As a senior manager with the Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 15 years, Dan Ashe has experience leading many of the agency’s programs, including the National Wildlife Refuge System and the migratory bird program,” Salazar said. “He is an outstanding choice to ensure the Service’s programs are both innovative and science-driven as we face the challenges of managing our fish and wildlife resources in the 21st century.”If confirmed by the Senate, Ashe would succeed Sam Hamilton, who died in February 2010. Rowan Gould has been serving as acting Director.

Ashe has served as the Service’s deputy director since August 2009. From 2003 to 2009, he was the science advisor to the Service’s director with broad responsibility in providing counsel and leadership in developing the agency’s scientific policy and scientific applications for resource management. Prior to that, Ashe served as the Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System from 1998 to 2003, directing operation and management of the Refuge System and the Service’s land acquisition program. Ashe joined the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1995 as assistant director for external affairs, where he directed the agency’s programs in legislative, public and Native American affairs, research coordination, and state grants-in-aid. From 1982 until 1995, Ashe was a member of the professional staff of the former Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ashe has a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences from Florida State University and a graduate degree in marine affairs from the University of Washington.

Water Resources Survey Gets Underway

The first comprehensive national inventory of the Refuge System’s lakes, rivers, wetlands and streams begins its first full year in 2011 as the competition for water resources continues to increase. The inventory is expected to take at least five years.

“We will look at the quantity and quality of water available to wildlife habitats and species through the System,” says Mike Higgins, national water resources coordinator based at the Natural Resources Program Center in Fort Collins, CO. “That will help us prioritize our efforts in a strategic way.”

By mid-2011, the Natural Resources Program Center hopes to start entering data on water quantity, quality, legal rights and infrastructure into a new national database; survey data will also identify water-related needs, trends and threats for each of the 553 refuges.

Among the first refuges to provide data to the Water Resource Inventory and Assessment was Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota, which completed its inventory and draft report in November 2010. The Great Lakes/Big Rivers Region gave the refuge priority because it had three projects under way — a Comprehensive Conservation Plan, a contaminant assessment process and a hydrogeomorphic analysis.

Quivira Refuge in Kansas, Shiawassee Refuge in Michigan, Alamosa Refuge in Colorado and Aransas Refuge in Texas and Cahaba River Refuge in Alabama are among the next in line for water inventories based on regional prioritization.

One challenge will be the immense scale of the project, Higgins says. “There’s no way we can inventory every small stream and wetland in Alaska’s millions of acres of refuge lands; we’ve accepted that,” he acknowledges. Seasonal variations present another challenge; some wetlands, for example, hold water only three months of the year; others have been dried up for years by drought.

“How do we capture threats imposed by climate change?” asks Higgins. “One way we’ve chosen is to look at long-term trends, long-term data for stream flow, for example. Is it decreasing or increasing? Are water temperatures decreasing or increasing? In addition, where we have appropriate data from climate change models, we’ll incorporate those into our assessments.

“There’s a huge data gap that needs to be filled,” he says.

Conserving the Future: Communicating on Many Levels

The recommendations presented in the single cohesive vision document are bold. But are they bold enough? And are they the right recommendations to set a strategic vision to guide the Refuge System for the next decade or so?

A major communications campaign is ramping up on a number of fronts to persuade U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees, Refuge Friends and other stakeholders to make their viewpoints known by Earth Day, April 22, enabling the Refuge System to present a revised document to the Service Director in late May.

The best avenue for communications is the Conserving the Future Web site: http://americaswildlife.org/, where people can post comments in forums, found under the “community” navigation button.

In coming months, the National Wildlife Refuge Association and the Refuge System will be reaching out to critical publics. The five Core Teams, whose work formed the basis of the draft vision document, will host a series of Webinars starting in late January. A series of online forums will be held for Service employees, targeted communities of practice, and partners throughout February, culminating in a national forum and broadcast to all Service employees on the Web.

During the last days of April, the Core Teams and others will review all feedback for a final significant editorial examination. The Core Teams and the Steering Committee, which is led by Refuge System Chief Greg Siekaniec, will approve the draft vision document in mid- to late-May.

The vision document presented at the Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation conference in mid-July will be largely complete when about 1,200 attendees arrive in Madison, WI, and hundreds more tune in via an array of technological avenues, including streaming video of plenary sessions that enable viewers to submit questions via email or social media platforms like Twitter.

A work group for conference planning is outlining what will happen at the conference and beyond the confines of the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. Breakout sessions at the conference will provide another opportunity for people to discuss elements of the vision document.

Work group teams are concentrating on such areas as: greening the conference; making it memorable; bringing the arts into the program; virtualization; communications and engagement; youth engagement, including programming to introduce a new generation to careers in natural resources; and legacy and heritage.

No December Meeting

There will be no Board of Director's Meeting held in December because of the holidays. The next meeting will be held January 24, 2011 at 6:30pm at the Refuge Headquarters Building in Guys Mills.

At this meeting the election of officers will be held and we will also be discussing plans for educational programs that will be open to the public in 2011. Don't forget that these meetings are open to all members of the Friends of ENWR or anyone interested in learning more about the Friends group.

If you have ideas for or are interested in helping with events in the coming year, please feel free to join us that night!

November 2010

Canoer Kanuti Refuge (photo by Steve Hillebrand)

What Does Wilderness Really Mean?
by Greg Siekaniec

“Untrammeled by man.”

Maybe that’s the phrase from the Wilderness Act that most fully embodies the vision that Congress had in mind when it designated wilderness under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act – ANILCA – passed 30 years ago this year.

Certainly “wilderness” is almost synonymous with Alaska – and for good reason. The Refuge System alone manages about 18.6 million acres of Congressionally designated wilderness in 21 areas within 10 national wildlife refuges in Alaska. Ninety percent of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s total wilderness acreage is in Alaska.

As a former manager of Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, which has more than 1.3 million acres of wilderness, I know personally and professionally what wilderness means to Americans who enjoy it.

“I just like being away from the white noise of town,” said one resident as he recalled recently why he travels to Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, upgraded to a wildlife refuge from its designation as a “moose range” with passage of ANICLA.

Longtime Soldotna, AK, resident Guy Bruni camps in the wilderness once the cold weather has persuaded less hardy folk to move inside. “It’s more difficult to access,” he says, “but you get a different experience.”

Says another Alaskan: “The stars are much more vibrant out there. I like being closer to nature and wildlife.”

They’re lucky: They live near an Alaskan national wildlife refuge that has wilderness.

But what does wilderness designation in Alaska mean for the millions who live in highly urbanized America – people who can neither afford hefty airfares nor time away from the job to get to Alaska? What does it mean to people in sunny Florida – where they have their own wilderness land – that more than 8 million acres are designated as the Mollie Beattie Wilderness in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest refuge in the system that is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the same year that ANICLA turns 30? What does it do for most Americans who may never see Alaska?

The very concept of wilderness embodies freedom. The thought of wilderness allows all of us to dream, whether the wilderness is just outside our front doors or thousands of miles away. The designation of wilderness on an Alaska national wildlife refuge means our grandchildren might yet have a chance to see polar bears, caribou, musk oxen, tundra and boreal forests – and a whole range of wildlife – thrive for new generations.

The purpose of wilderness designation is to secure an enduring resource, to protect the character of special lands. Because of the sweeping provisions of ANILCA, the Fish and Wildlife Service has dedicated a whole chapter in its management manual to stewardship of Alaska refuge wilderness areas. Thousands who have worked for the Service over past decades have dedicated their professional careers to that cause – for the betterment of not only wildlife and its habitat but of all Americans.

Cherry Valley Refuge, (photo by Michael Weida)

Cherry Valley Refuge Established in Pennsylvania

The 553rd national wildlife refuge is just 75 miles west of New York City and 100 miles north of Philadelphia. Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Pennsylvania was established on Oct. 18, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquired 185 acres of land from the owners of Sorrenti’s Cherry Valley Vineyards. The parcel was purchased with money appropriated by Congress from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The refuge’s acquisition boundary, which encompasses more than 20,000 acres near the Delaware Water Gap, is surrounded by residential/resort development in the Pocono Mountains to the north and commercial/residential development in the Lehigh Valley to the south.

Refuge manager Michael Horne, recognizing the extreme pressures of exurban sprawl in the Northeast, says the establishment of Cherry Valley Refuge “shows me that there still are a lot of people out there who value the land and value conservation and will go to great lengths to protect what they believe in.”

Service Acting Director Rowan Gould says, “Cherry Valley is a model for the President’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. It is an example of how private citizens and local communities can safeguard the places they care about. The Service is pleased to be part of the citizen-led partnership that helped create this refuge.” The refuge was formally approved by the Service in December 2008. Since then, the Service has been working with the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge Partnership, Friends of Cherry Valley and local citizens to identify property to purchase within the acquisition boundary for the refuge.

Horne describes the refuge’s first parcel as a mix of hardwood forest habitat: woodland uplands, a riparian corridor and “promising wetlands in terms of bog turtle management.” A primary short-term goal of the refuge, he says, is “to work with our partners in the valley to get a handle on where the bog turtles are and what they need. We will identify wetlands that are in the most need of restoration and get working on them first.”

The bog turtle’s habitat is highly susceptible to the natural succession of trees encroaching on wetlands. Horne plans to manage refuge wetlands to make sure they don’t become degraded by such encroachment, and staff will take steps to “open them back up when necessary.”

Debra Schuler, president of the Friends of Cherry Valley, describes the first parcel as “a doorway to the refuge boundary area” at the west end of the valley near the headwaters of Cherry Creek, which flows into the Delaware River. She calls the parcel “a very beautiful piece of property with already established trails through wonderful woodlands.”

Cherry Valley Refuge is the third national wildlife refuge entirely in Pennsylvania. The other two are John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia and Erie Refuge in the northwestern part of the state.

2011 Vision Process: Just a Click Away

“There are two things that interest me,” wrote conservationist Aldo Leopold, “the relation of people to each other, and the relation of people to land.”

That concept is evident online at www.americaswildlife.org, where U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees, Refuge System Friends and others discuss a strategic direction for the Refuge System for the next decade or so. The Web site’s blog allows people to share news and observations about wildlife conservation.

The Web site allows people to create their own vision wish list and comment on the documents drafted by five Core Teams in topic areas: conservation planning and delivery; conservation design; conservation science; relevance to a changing America; and leadership and organizational excellence. The resulting vision document will be largely complete when more than 1,200 people gather in Madison, WI, in mid-July for the Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation conference. The vision document will set the strategic direction for the Refuge System for the next decade or so, and it will also set the tone and direction for Friends groups and supporters.

“We look forward to hearing robust discussion online,” says National Wildlife Refuge System chief Greg Siekaniec.

As a partner in the process, the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) has met with about 60 Friends groups, Service retirees, organizations that belong to the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) and other non-governmental organizations. The NWRA, which is a partner in the development of the Web site, has gathered hundreds of comments to be integrated into the vision document.

The July 2011 conference also will reach out to youth, partially to create awareness about natural resource career paths.

“We’re calling this whole process ‘Conserving the Future.’ It is no accident, though, that we have a secondary – but equally important – tagline to the conference name, and that is ‘wildlife refuges and the next generation,’ ” says Siekaniec. “The conference is building on the conservation legacy we have inherited from giants like Aldo Leopold. But wildlife conservation can thrive only if the next generation is as passionate as our historic leaders were.”

And The Winner Is...

The winner of the National Wildlife Refuge Week Photo Contest was Abbey Schmucker of Guys Mills. Abbey and her family explored the Sugar Lake Division to find the identity of each of the 5 refuge photos in the contest. Abbey hasn’t decided yet how she will spend her $300 cash prize!

Annual Meeting of the Members took place November 15th

The evening started with dessert and a presentation by Anne W. Stewart about the Native American history of the area. The Erie NWR was indeed named for the Erie Indians, who were eventually absorbed into the Seneca tribe. A very interesting and entertaining evening. Lots of good food also. Thank you to Anne Steward and everyone else who made the evening possible.

Following the presentation the business part of the meeting took place.

Unfortunately, Janet Marvin, Char and Ron Oswald, and Bill McCarthy have all decided to leave the Board for personal reasons. We want to thank them for all they have done for the Friends of Erie NWR in the past and wish them well in future endeavors.

Rich Eakin also informed us that though he plans to stay on the Board he is stepping down as an officer, citing future travel plans as the reason. The Board will need to replace both the president and treasurer for the coming year.

That left only Doug Copeland and Ron Leberman on the ballot for this year's election. Ann Zurasky was nominated to serve on the Board of Directors and she accepted the nomination. The election was held and all three were elected. The members of the Board would like to welcome Ann into their midst and thank her for taking on this important responsibility.

The current Board of Directors are:

Douglas Copeland
Richard Eakin (President)
Ronald Leberman (Vice President)
Kathleen Palmer (Secretary)
William Trout
Bertie Tullis
Ann Zurasky

Some time was taken to take care of some old business and some new ideas for future educational and entertaining programs to be presented at the Refuge in the coming year were suggested.

Rich ended the meeting by talking about the challenges that the Friends have faced in the past year and will face in the future.

WeLoveBirds.org: New Bird Photo Contest

New York, NY, and Ithaca, NY—The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology launched a new WeLoveBirds.org wild bird photo contest today.

Anyone can join the free online community at WeLoveBirds.org and submit one original photograph of a wild bird to the contest from now through November 24. Site members will vote for their favorite photographs the following week. Winning photographs will be featured on the site.

The top winner will also receive a copy of the newly released Bird Songs Bible, which features audio clips of birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and is a complete illustrated reference for all 747 species of North America’s birds. Each week during the contest one member who has submitted a photo to the contest will also be randomly chosen to receive a Bird Songs Bible.

With more than 13,000 stunning bird photos already uploaded to WeLoveBirds.org, wild bird photos have proven a central part of the interactions and social networking on the site. WeLoveBirds.org started in February 2010 as an interactive online community for bird enthusiasts, offering a free and open social network of people who are passionate about birds; access to information on birds and birding from a leading ornithology lab; and an opportunity to make a positive difference for birds and their habitats. It has grown to nearly 3,000 members with an active Facebook page and Twitter feed (@weluvbirds). WeLoveBirds.org members regularly submit photographs to the site, along with videos, comments, discussions, and blog posts. The first photo contest in spring 2010 was a success with nearly 200 photos submitted and active member engagement in the voting.

The website represents a partnership between NRDC and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

For photo contest rules and information, go to: www.welovebirds.org.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.3 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to the study and conservation of birds. Founded in 1915, the Cornell Lab engages more than 200,000 citizen-science participants in recording their bird observations for science and conservation.

October 2010

Anne Stewart to talk at Annual Meeting

If you read about the Erie National Wildlife Refuge you will learn that it was named for the Erie Indians, a Native American tribe in the area. How true is that statement? Anne W. Stewart, author and member of the Crawford County Historical Society, will talking to us about the Native American history of the area.

Following the presentation, Rich Eakin, President of the Board, will be reviewing the past year's achievements and the election of Board of Directors members will take place. Nominations for Board members are always welcome.

Join us for dessert and entertainment at the Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge's Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held Monday, November 15, 2010 at 6:30pm at the Erie NWR Headquarters Building in Guys Mills, PA. We hope to see everyone there!

Board Attempting To Soar To New Heights

A "Friends Strategic Planning Workshop" was held Saturday, October 16, 2010 at the Refuge Headquarters building. Participating in this workshop were Rich Eakin, Doug Copeland, Tony Talak, Pete Talak, Ron Leberman, Kathy Palmer, Bertie Tullis, and Patty Nagel. We started the session off with a pot luck lunch at 1:00pm and a very good lunch it was too.

Some of the issues we wished to address that day were a need to build the Board of Directors, a need to increase the general membership, and a need to develop a Vision Statement. As a reference and guild in those undertakings we were using the book Soaring to New Heights A Guide to Creating a Sustainable Friends/Refuge Collaboration published by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Many ideas for activities, fun fundraisers, and increasing membership were brainstormed that afternoon. It was also agreed that we need to develop a vision statement to guide the group into the future. Soaring to New Heights suggested these guidelines for writing a vision statement:

  • They are appropriate for the organization and for the times.
  • They set standards of excellence and reflect high ideals.
  • They clarify purpose and direction.
  • They inspire enthusiasm and encourage commitment.
  • They are well articulated and easily understood.
  • They reflect the uniqueness of the organization, its distinctive competence, what it stands for, and what it is able to achieve.
  • They are ambitious.
The Board will be working on this statement in the coming months as well as planning programs and activities that will hopefully be of interest to our membership and the general public both.

Draft Friends Policy Ready for Your Review

Today, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted on the Federal Register the Draft Friends Organization Policy. The intent of the policy is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the partnership between the Service and Friends organizations. The Service recognizes that Friends organizations play a vital in helping the Service's achieve its mission.

Therefore, the purpose of the policy is to provide guidance for Service employees who work with Friends organizations. The policy specifically includes guidance regarding financial and administrative programs, Friends Partnership Agreements, and revenue generating practices.

The Service is looking for public comments on the draft policy. The National Wildlife Refuge Association will be providing comments and we ask every Friends organization to review and provide your comments to the SERVICE.

Draft Friends Organization Policy: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/pdfs/FINALDraftFriendsPolicy08_2010.pdf

Sample Friends Partnership Agreement: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/pdfs/Exhibit_1.pdf

Written comments need to be sent by December 2, 2010.

Submit your comments on this draft policy to Kevin Kilcullen, Visitor Services, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 635, Arlington, VA 22203 or E-mail refugesystempolicycomments@fws.gov. Internet comments need to be submitted as an ASCII file (a plain text file).

YOUR COMMENTS ARE IMPORTANT! Please review the draft policy and submit your comments no later than December 2, 2010.

National Wildlife Refuge Association Announces Photo Contest Winners
Carole Robertson of Tallahassee Wins Top Prize for Photo Taken at Florida’s St. Marks NWR

Washington, DC – A stunning close-up of a green tree frog sitting atop an echinacea blossom at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Florida is the top prizewinner in the 2010 Refuge Photography Contest sponsored by the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA). The image by photographer Carole Robertson of Tallahassee, earned Robertson the first place award of $2,000 cash and two round-trip airline tickets from Southwest Airlines, the contest’s premier sponsor and the official airline of the NWRA. She also will receive two pairs of sunglasses from HaberVision, another contest sponsor. More than 800 images submitted by photographers in 44 states competed for prizes in this year’s fifth annual contest—testimony to the allure of wildlife refuges as places to experience wildlife and enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities, including photography.

“Each year, photographers from across America capture images of wildlife and landscapes that tell the story of our National Wildlife Refuge System and the unparalleled wildlife and recreation heritage it protects,” said Evan Hirsche, President of the Refuge Association. “The gallery of winning images illustrates why it’s so important for us to protect and conserve these special places for future generations.”

“As the Official Airline of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, we’re proud to be a part of this photo contest that encourages people to capture and share the beauty of our country’s wildlife,” said Debra Benton, Southwest Airlines Director of Charitable Giving and Community Relations. “Southwest shares the Refuge Association’s passion for protecting our wildlife, and we believe this contest is a great way to spread the message of conservation of such precious environments and creatures.”

Other prizes in this year’s contest were:

  • Second place (A pair of binoculars donated by Wild Bird Centers of America, and a pair of HaberVision sunglasses): Michael Dougherty of Clarkston, MI, for his photo of a Yellow-crowned Night Heron at the J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR in Florida.
  • Three third-place awards (A bird feeder donated by Wild Bird Centers of America, and a pair of HaberVision sunglasses): Carol Grant of Clearwater, FL, for her photo of a West Indian Manatee at the Crystal River NWR in Florida; Susan Dimock of Bandon, OR, for her photo of a Little Blue Heron at the J.N. "Ding" Darling NWR in Florida; and Christopher Balmer of Idaho Falls, ID, for his photo of a Black Bear at the Camas NWR in Idaho.
  • Four fourth-place awards (A pair of HaberVision sunglasses): Mike McBride of Afton, WY, for his photo of an Ermine at the Camas NWR in Idaho; Donna Tolbert-Anderson of Easton, MD, for her photo of a Great Blue Heron at the Blackwater NWR in Maryland; Daryl Marling of Fort Worth, TX, for his photo of a Black-tailed Prairie Dog at the Wichita Mountains NWR in Oklahoma; and George Dawson of Tallahassee, FL, for his photo of an American Alligator at the St. Marks NWR in Florida.
  • Fifteen Honorable Mentions (A copy of the book, Bayshore Summer by Pete Dunne, donated by the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt): winners’ names and their images can be found on the contest gallery page.
The contest photo gallery is generously hosted by Zenfolio, a premier photo-hosting site. The annual Refuge Photography Contest showcases digital photography that best captures the stunning scenery and wildlife of America’s 552 national wildlife refuges. The National Wildlife Refuge System is the world’s premier system of protected public lands, encompassing more than 150 million acres in every U.S. state and territory.

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.

27 Refuges Mark 75 Years

In 1935 land prices were low, the need for conservation apparent, and the nation was laboring to recover from the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Maybe that helps explain why it was a banner year for the establishment of national wildlife refuges. Twenty-seven refuges, most of them in the country’s midsection, mark their 75th anniversaries in 2010.

Some, like White River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas, see parallels between those times and these. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps played a “significant role,” says refuge manager Dennis W. Sharp, building roads and structures on the refuge, established for the protection of migratory birds. Today, during another economic downturn, stimulus funds have helped repave six miles of gravel road on the refuge and repair CCC structures including a dam, a garage and a pipe storage building.

The 160,000-acre White River Refuge covers part of the largest remaining bottomland hardwood forest in North America and is one of the most important wintering areas for mallard ducks in the continent. About two-thirds of all bird species found in Arkansas use the refuge.

Other refuges marking their 75th anniversary this year include:

Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota
Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge, Illinois
Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana
Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Oregon
J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota
Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge, South Dakota
Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge, South Dakota
Lake Isom National Wildlife Refuge, Tennessee
Lake Otis National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota
Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota
Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Montana
Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, Texas
Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon
Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Montana
Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota
Rose Lake National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota
Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge, South Dakota
School Section Lake National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota
Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Michigan
Sheyenne Lake National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota
Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin
Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota
Valentine National Wildlife Refuge, Nebraska
Waubay National Wildlife Refuge, South Dakota

September 2010

Washington, DC—For the first time ever, the U.S. Senate has passed a resolution designating the week of October 10-16 as National Wildlife Refuge Week. While the week has been celebrated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service every October since 1995, and President Bill Clinton issued a proclamation in 1996, the resolution (SR 644) passed today by unanimous consent, marks the first time that Congress has officially recognized Refuge Week. The resolution recognizes the importance of America’s 552 National Wildlife Refuges to wildlife and habitat conservation, recreation, and the economy, and affirms the Senate’s intent to manage refuges and the wildlife they protect for future generations. The Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE), a coalition of hunting, fishing, conservation, and scientific organizations that advocates for the National Wildlife Refuge System, praised the Senate action and the bill’s sponsors.

“At a time when the Refuge System faces serious funding and staffing shortfalls, we’re grateful to Senators Kaufman, Cardin and Crapo for leading a bipartisan group of colleagues to call attention to the importance of America’s National Wildlife Refuges,” said Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Chair of the CARE coalition. “America’s refuges are the world’s premier system of lands and waters protected to conserve wildlife and habitat. But they are so much more. Refuges are a sound taxpayer investment, returning an average of four dollars to local economies for every dollar spent. In addition, our Refuge System provides incomparable recreation opportunities for millions of visitors, including more than 2.5 million hunters, 7 million anglers, and millions of wildlife watchers as well as boaters and photographers.”

The bill’s cosponsors are a bipartisan group. They include the original sponsors—Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)—and 19 cosponsors: Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Roland Burris (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Robert Casey (D-PA), Bob Corker (R-TN), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Kerry (D-MA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Tom Udall (D-NM).

The Senate resolution highlights:

  • The broad scope of the 150-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which includes 552 refuges and 38 wetland management districts, found in every state and territory of the U.S.;
  • The economic contributions of refuges, whose 41 million annual visitors contribute nearly $1.7 billion to local economies and support tens of thousands of local jobs;
  • The ecological and wildlife diversity found in the Refuge System, which protects temperate, tropical, and boreal forests, wetlands, deserts, grasslands, arctic tundras, and remote islands, and provide habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 species of reptiles and amphibians, and more than 1,000 species of fish;
  • The importance of refuge volunteers and more than 220 refuge Friends groups, who contribute 1.4 million volunteer hours the equivalent of 665 full-time employees—to the Refuge System each year.

    An update on the French Creek Cleanup we participated in from the FCVC Fall Newsletter...

    "The French Creek Valley Conservancy’s 2nd Annual Fall French Creek Clean Up concluded late Saturday afternoon with a record haul of nearly 8.6 tons of tires, trash, debris and treasure collected from French Creek from access point...s stretching from Waterford to Franklin.

    This year’s take bested the 2009 Clean Up by roughly 3.4 tons. Approximately 275 registered participants braved the cool weather to traverse the creek by boat or foot in search of anything that might foul French Creek’s pristine waters."

    Contributed by Andy Walker, FCVC Board Member

    Pictured are Richard Raup, Char Oswald, Bertie Tullis, Kathy Palmer and Nichelle Rodgers. Not pictured: Patty Nagel and Tony Talak.

    Creek Cleanup

    September 11th was a beautiful day. A perfect day to do some cleaning... Creek cleaning that is. In cooperation with the French Creek Valley Conservancy's Annual French Creek Clean Up a group from the Friends of ENWR cleaned along parts of Woodcock Creek and Lake Creek, both tributaries of French Creek and both on Erie NWR property. The group included Richard Raup, Char Oswald, Bertie Tullis, Kathy Palmer, Nichelle Rodgers, Patty Nagel and Tony Talak.

    We found some very interesting junk and we thought for sure that our video store awning would be good enough to win a prize but alas it was not to be. We had a lot of fun dragging it and a lot of other trash out of the creeks and then taking advantage of the picnic at Bicentennial Park later that day!

    The FCVC reported that a total of 17,000 pounds of trash was removed from French Creek that day and we were glad to do our bit to help. We can be proud to say "I cleaned the creek".

    To view more photos go here.

    Facebook May Bring New Friends to Friends

    As of mid-September, about 140 people have responded to the Refuge System’s Facebook awareness campaign, which encourages people to go to the Refuge System Web site to find local refuges and Friends organizations. The Facebook notice – headlined “Love Wildlife?”-- has been posted on more than 700,000 Facebook pages of those who have shown an interest in wildlife conservation.

    While the Refuge System can’t measure whether people who clicked on the ad actually joined a Friends group, it is another opportunity to put the mission of the Refuge System and Friends organizations front-and-center before a vast audience. Interesting note: The response rate went up after the accompanying photo was changed from a pelican to cuddly polar bear cubs.

    Facebook notices are inexpensive ways for Refuge Friends groups to highlight membership. A special issue of the Refuge System’s quarterly Friends Forward newsletter – mailed in early October – focuses on how Friends can use such “new media” tools as Facebook and Twitter, to increase awareness about national wildlife refuges.

    Refuge System Facebook Following Is Growing

    Just three weeks after the Refuge System’s launched its Facebook site, http://www.facebook.com/USFWSRefuges, more than 760 people were following the conversation. And the number of Facebook followers is growing significantly each week. Be sure to become a follower of the page – and ask your friends to do the same.

    And Twitter, Too

    The Refuge System is pumping out news on its own Twitter site as well: http://twitter.com/USFWSRefuges. It’s a great way to get spread the word about events and accomplishments across the country. Give your Twitter and Facebook ideas to Karen Leggett in the Refuge System Branch of Communications (Karen_Leggett@fws.gov).

    Looking, Planning a Decade Ahead

    The road to the Refuge System’s invigorated vision runs through Madison, WI.

    In the city where Aldo Leopold, the father of wildlife ecology, became the University of Wisconsin’s first professor of game management in the late 1920s, more than 1,200 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees, refuge Friends and partners will gather in mid-July 2011 to discuss and ratify a new vision for the Refuge System, the nation’s premier network of public lands and waters dedicated to the protection of wildlife species and habitat.

    But discussion won’t be centered only in Madison. Refuge Friends, partners and employees throughout the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be linked into the proceedings through a variety of online technologies and social media. Broadcasting out the conference over the Internet will enable Friends groups and others to organize their own satellite conference events while opening up the sessions to virtual participants.

    The new vision – built on the conservation legacy so evident in the sand counties that surround Madison – will guide the Refuge System into the next decade. “It will be a historic event,” said Refuge System Chief Greg Siekaniec.

    Madison is about 40 miles from Baraboo, WI, where in 1935 the Leopold family purchased a worn-out farm – in an area known as the sand counties – and put into action Aldo’s beliefs that the same tools people use to disrupt the landscape can be used to rebuild it. Indeed the locale that inspired A Sand County Almanac will set the tone for the Vision Conference, at which the Refuge System’s 107-year legacy of conservation innovation will be melded with new ideas for a nation that is more urban and ethnically diverse than ever.

    Madison was selected not only for its conservation history, but also for its “green” status. Monona Terrace Community Convention Center – on the shores of Lake Monona – is the nation’s first convention center to receive silver level certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. Indeed, the Service has promised to make this conference carbon neutral and the “greenest” one yet held.

    Core Teams at Work About 70 Service employees – who nominated themselves – are meeting weekly in five Core Teams devoted to individual topics: conservation planning and delivery; conservation design; conservation science; relevance to a changing America; and leadership and organizational excellence. Each team will produce a paper that will form the centerpiece of the vision that is scheduled to be ratified at the July conference.

    The National Wildlife Refuge Association is working closely with the Refuge System to use cutting-edge technology to enable a broad spectrum of people to see the Core Team papers, and have their viewpoints considered well before the July conference.

    Meanwhile, a Steering Committee – 17 people, including two regional refuge chiefs, two assistant directors of the Service and National Wildlife Refuge Association President Evan Hirsche – has begun meeting monthly. The Steering Committee, led by Siekaniec, will set the tone for the Vision Process and the Vision Conference. The conference will feature not only an array of speakers and an exhibit hall, but also special programming for young people as a means of encouraging a new generation to connect with natural lands and to consider natural resources as a career path.

    Protecting Bats

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will close immediately all caves and mines within the National Wildlife Refuge System and implement research and monitoring protocols in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats.

    Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Alabama and Logan Cave National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas are already involved in the coordinated response by state, federal and tribal wildlife and land management agencies, as are Pilot Knob and Ozark Cavefish National Wildlife Refuges, both in Missouri, Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, Indiana, and Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. The Refuge System has about 96 caves-like structures on its lands and about 240 abandoned mine sites.  

    First documented in New York in 2006, WNS has spread rapidly across the eastern United States, killing more than 1 million bats. Named for the white fungus that appears on the muzzle and other body parts of hibernating bats, WNS is associated with extensive mortality of bats in the Northeast.  

    Bats with WNS are found to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior during cold weather months, including flying outside in the daylight and clustering near the entrance of hibernacula.  

    More than half of the 45 bat species living in the United States rely on hibernation for winter survival. Four endangered species and subspecies of hibernating bats in the U.S. are already affected by or are at risk from WNS.  

    The fungus associated with WNS, Geomyces destructans, has been detected as far west as Oklahoma, and is expected to continue spreading. While the fungus is transmitted primarily by bat-to-bat contact, biologists suspect it could be transmitted inadvertently by humans. Fungal spores can be transferred from cave sediment to clothing and instruments, and transported to unaffected sites.  

    For more information about WNS, go to http://www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome/.

    August 2010

    Soaring to New Heights Workshop

    The Board of Directors has recently received copies of the publication Soaring to New Heights A Guide to Creating a Sustainable Friends/Refuge Collaboration and are planning a workshop to discuss the information. The workshop will be held October 16, 2010 at the Refuge Headquarters. We will start with a "pot luck" luncheon at 1:00pm. Anyone interested in getting more involved in the Friends group is invited to attend.

    “I can’t imagine managing a refuge without a Friends group. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done.” So said Dave Hilley, manager of Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, KS, setting the tone for the newest publication for Friends from the National Wildlife Refuge System.

    Soaring to New Heights provides 104 pages of inspiration, case studies and practical advice organized by five key elements of success:

    1. A Solid Collaboration – building trust, creating a shared vision and sharing power
    2. Strategic Thinking – planning for the future and evaluating progress
    3. A Well-Managed Organization – building a board, committees and meetings, membership development, finances, resiliency
    4. Understanding FWS Systems and Nonprofit Management
    5. Celebrate and Evaluate
    Soaring to New Heights is available online at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/SoaringToNewHeights.html Chapters may be downloaded, searched and printed individually or as a complete document.

    Please let us know if you are planning to attend. Call the Refuge at 814-789-3585.

    Celebrate Wildlife Refuge Week!

    All 5 of these photos are located somewhere on the Sugar Lake Division of the Erie National Wildlife Refuge. Figure out where these pictures are, identify as many as you can, then complete the entry form and mail it in for a chance to win a $300 cash prize! For every answer you get correct, your name gets entered in the drawing, so if you guess all 5 places correct, you get 5 chances to win that 300 dollars!

    Entries will be accepted from October 12th to October 22nd and no later.

    Complete the entry form and mail it to: Erie National Wildlife Refuge 11296 Wood Duck Lane Guys Mills, PA 16327. Must be 18 or have a parent’s signature.

    Only one entry per person per photo. Any one person can have up to 5 entries in the final drawing, one for each photo correctly identified. The Friends of ENWR will not accept any incomplete, lost, late, postage due or illegible entries. The Friends of ENWR reserve the right to disqualify any entries by persons determined to be tampering with or abusing any aspect of the contest. The Friends of ENWR reserve the right to make all decisions regarding the selection of winners and all other aspects of the contest.

    One winner will be chosen from all eligible entries through a random drawing. Winner will be announced on October 31st.

    Winners may waive their right to receive prize. Prize is nontransferable and there will be no tampering with or abusing the contest. In the event this contest is compromised, the Friends of ENWR reserve the right to suspend, modify or terminate the contest.

    To view photos go here.

    To print entry form go here.

    Refuge Association Launches 5th Annual Refuge Photo Contest

    Washington, DC- The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) announces its 5th annual digital photo contest showcasing America's national wildlife refuges. Entries for the 2010 Refuge Photo Contest can be submitted until September 24, 2010 with results to be announced in October 2010 in connection with Refuge Week.

    "Images of wildlife and wild landscapes tell the remarkable story of our national wildlife refuges," said Evan Hirsche, president of NWRA. "Amateur and professional photographers alike are capturing amazing images throughout the System, and we invite these photographers to share their work and showcase the natural beauty of our wildlife refuges with a broader audience."

    Comprised of more than 550 refuges in all states and territories, the National Wildlife Refuge System protects over 150 million acres of lands and water, and is the premier system of public lands incorporated to protect wildlife in the world.

    Images submitted for the photo contest can be of birds, mammals, insects, fish, other animals, plants, people, or simply shots of refuge scenery.

    This year Southwest Airlines, the official airline of NWRA, has generously donated $2,000 cash and 2 round trip tickets for the first place prize. Other prizes include offerings from Wild Bird Centers of America, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and HaberVision, with winning image hosting services graciously provided by Zenfolio.

    In addition, winners' images will be highlighted on NWRA's website and future publications. Runners up will be selected for inclusion in the NWRA Refuge Image Library and every photographer submitting an entry will receive a complimentary one-year membership in the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Winning images from previous contests can be viewed online at http://nwra.zenfolio.com.

    For photo contest details, requirements, and procedures, please visit http://www.refugeassociation.org/contest/ContestHome.html and to download a printable 2010 Refuge Photo Contest flyer click here.

    The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity. Copyright © 2010 National Wildlife Refuge Association.

    July 2010

    Special Edition Duck Stamp Cachet Will Support National Wildlife Refuges in Gulf of Mexico

    Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has unveiled a special edition Federal Duck Stamp envelope, or cachet, that hunters, stamp collectors and other conservationists can purchase for $25 -- or $10 more than the cost of a regular Duck Stamp -- to help conservation efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. The funds will be used to acquire wetlands for inclusion in national wildlife refuges along the Gulf Coast.

    “When the Dust Bowl of the 1930s destroyed many wetlands, our nation’s sportsmen lobbied Congress to support the creation of the Duck Stamp for wetland acquisition and conservation,” Salazar said. “Today, the wildlife of the Gulf Coast faces new threats – from the current oil spill to disappearing wetlands – that we must rise to confront. This special edition duck stamp cachet will provide hunters and other conservationists the opportunity to once again go beyond the call of duty by conserving disappearing wetlands for generations to come.”

    “Duck stamps have been a conservation tradition since 1934,” said Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rowan Gould. “Waterfowl hunters, stamp collectors, and wildlife supporters have been the mainstay of that tradition, but we need to expand that community to address broad-scale challenges such as the disappearance of wetlands, accelerated climate change, and other 21st century resource threats."

    The cachet features a silk rendering of an award-winning photograph of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Florida by David Moynahan and the 2010-2011 Federal Duck Stamp, which depicts an American wigeon painted by artist Robert Bealle of Waldorf, MD.

    All migratory bird hunters must buy a $15 Federal Duck Stamp, formally known as the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, each year in addition to state licenses, stamps and permits. Since 1934, Federal Duck Stamp sales have raised more than $750 million to acquire and protect more than 5.3 million acres of wetlands, including habitat on hundreds of the 552 National Wildlife Refuges.

    The public can purchase the special edition Federal Duck Stamp cachet from Amplex Corporation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s distributor, by dialing 1-800-852-4897 or at www.duckstamp.com.

    Migratory Bird Commission Approves Refuge Acquisitions

    Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved $35.7 million for refuge acquisitions and wetlands grants — $30.4 million for grants to conserve more than 6 million acres of wetlands and associated habitats in the United States and Canada under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), and $5.3 million in Federal Duck Stamp funds to add about 1,850 wetland acres to six units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

    “Besides providing habitat for fish, wildlife and plants, our nation’s wetlands provide vital storm protection for coastal areas, hold and slowly release flood waters, act as filters to cleanse water of impurities and provide recreation and wildlife viewing opportunities for millions of people,” said Salazar, who chairs the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission.

    Nearly $25.4 million in NAWCA Standard Grants will support five Canadian projects for migratory birds on more than 6.1 million acres in 12 provinces and territories. Partners will contribute more than $47 million toward these projects.

    Also approved was nearly $2 million for two projects in California and Wisconsin that will acquire, restore and enhance 2,833 acres. Partners will contribute more than $4 million for these projects.

    The Commission approved purchase of wetland habitat to be added to six units of the Refuge System to secure breeding, resting and feeding habitat. These acquisitions are funded with proceeds from sales of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, otherwise known as the Federal Duck Stamp:

    Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, AR – Acquire and restore 180 of bottomland wetlands to provide a block of contiguous seasonally-flooded forestland managed for waterfowl and other migratory birds.

      Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, CA – Protect 110 acres of the last remaining riparian habitat along South Stone Lake, as well as associated wetlands and uplands. The Service will manage the shortgrass and wetland areas to provide quality habitat for wintering, migrating and breeding waterfowl.  

    Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, NJ – Protect 243 acres of wetlands and upland fringes, the last natural open space on the northern portion of Barnegat Bay. The area provides essential migratory habitat for waterfowl and passerine birds species, as well as several state-listed endangered and threatened bird species.  

    Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, NH – Protect 162 acres of northern forest wetland and nesting habitat for several species of waterfowl.  

    Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge, TN – Protect 866 acres that support large concentrations of wintering waterfowl and provide stopover habitat for several species of migrating shorebirds.  

    San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, TX – Acquire 288 acres for protection of a wetland complex that provides winter, migration and resident habitat for waterfowl, wading birds and neotropical migratory birds.  

    For every dollar spent on Federal Duck Stamps, 98 cents goes directly to purchase vital habitat. To date, more than 5.3 million acres of wetlands in the Refuge System have been purchased by using more than $750 million from Duck Stamp revenue.

    More information about the approved NAWCA grant programs and projects is available on the Web at: http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NAWCA/index.shtm.

    Don’t Underestimate America’s Concern
    by Greg Siekaniec, Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System

    It was July 14 – Day 87 of the Deepwater Horizon spill -- and the oil had stopped, awaiting the relief well to permanently plug the hole in the Earth. It was a relief for Louisiana and other Gulf States. It was a relief for the nation. It was a relief for wildlife. But it was only a temporary relief.

    The long-term work continues.

    The Deepwater Horizon oil spill response is massive, covering about 460,000 square miles of ocean and 750 miles of shoreline, fought by more than 40,000 people from federal, state, local agencies, industry and even academia. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service alone deployed more than 525 people.

    But the fight on behalf of wildlife is not over. What we don’t know about the impacts of the oil spill is far more extensive than what we do know.

    When will wildlife thrive again? What will be the long term and short term environmental impacts of a spill that pumped millions of gallons into the ocean? What will happen to the next generation of wildlife? Will some species’ reproductive function be impaired?

    This much we do know: Hundreds of Service employees deployed to the Gulf worked long hours -- through weekends and holidays -- to ensure the best possible environmental outcome. And we know that Refuge Friends found innovative ways to find a silver lining in this nightmare.

    The Friends of Balcones Canyonlands in Texas offered a $10 donation to the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s oil spill fund for every new member. The Refuge Association’s oil spill fund is helping Friends groups that incurred extra expenses as staff deployed to the spill. The Association’s first grant went to the Friends of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama to help them plant native vegetation on newly constructed berms that prevented oil from reaching critical habitat for the endangered Alabama beach mouse.

    Our future challenges will be as great as those we’ve already faced during the 87 days of spewing oil. All of us face one, overarching challenge: to maintain the nation’s sky-high interest in wildlife’s health. Perhaps one of the most important lessons we’ve learned is not to underestimate America’s concern for its natural resources. Thank you for all you do for national wildlife refuges.

    LCCs and I&M: Parallel Missions

    Landscape Conservation Cooperatives – self-directed partnerships that link science and conservation delivery – have moved from concepts to functioning entities since they were first proposed more than a year ago. Many have formed steering committees, named coordinators and identified priority species and habitats. Already, projects are being launched that will inform conservation actions on the ground.

    Nine LCCs are being established in 2010; several have projects already underway. As of May, the Plains and Prairie Potholes LCC is supporting three activities: examining the effects of climate change on grassland and wetland bird distribution and abundance; producing digital maps of wetlands throughout the LCC; and assessing the status of all priority aquatic habitats in the region. The Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative will be estimating future rainfall changes over the Hawaiian Islands from 2046–2100. The Arctic LCC will begin long-term monitoring of the impacts of climate change on glaciers and rivers in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

    The North Atlantic LCC will be developing maps and computer models to predict how habitat conditions will be affected by such stressors as urban growth and changing climate. The LCC will develop user-friendly tools to help make decisions regarding such stream fish as Eastern brook trout. Such tools include maps of stream fish habitat and a Web-based program that refuge managers can use to evaluate different management actions in streams as small as 30 feet or river basins that run hundreds of miles.

    As interim coordinator for the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks LCC, Bill Uihlein is excited about the potential of LCCs to address problems that no single agency can solve. He is working to ensure that the LCC is “adding value to the conservation community without risking partnership fatigue.” The Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks LCC is itself a combination of three existing landscape-level joint ventures that support migratory birds and the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership. Twenty-four agencies, including the Service, belong to one or more of the joint ventures.

    Collaboration is the engine that drives LCCs. “It takes time to nurture successful partnerships, says Uihlein, “yet LCCs must also demonstrate success in using shared resources wisely.”

    To that end, the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks LCC is initiating development of an aquatic resource database that will be linked with water resources data being collected in the Plains and Prairie Potholes LCC. “We need to stitch all the LCCs together across the Mississippi River watershed,” explains Uihlein. “For example, with this particular project, we are trying to help the Service and the conservation community identify ‘how much,’ ‘how much more’ and ‘where’ in terms of water resources. What are the limiting factors? What are the parameters we need to target conservation action?”

    Integrating Multiple Initiatives

    The LCCs will function across regions and also as a national network of science capacity responding to broad-scale issues ranging from development to endangered species. They will use climate change data from eight new Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers as well as data gathered through the Refuge System inventory and monitoring (I&M) program being developed at the new Natural Resource Program Center in Fort Collins, CO. Center Chief Mark Chase says, “We are going to collect, store and make available information about resources in the Refuge System that is credible, scientifically rigorous and reliable.” He sees the LCCs as one of the center’s customers.

    “We expect that LCCs will use the information we provide to generate predictive models about habitat and relationships of species and habitat,” says Chase. “In return for that, our decision makers on the ground will get support tools that will help them make management decisions and set land acquisition priorities. If, for example, you are interested in duck production, it will be helpful to know that a particular 200 acres of land is better than a different 200 acres, based on predictive models.”

    The Refuge System I&M program and the LCCs are developing on parallel tracks; Chase expects patterns of cooperation to emerge over time. Already, staff resources are intertwined. The Service is co-locating staff hired through the I&M program with some LCCs. New I&M biologists will be stationed at the Fergus Falls Wetland Management District Office and Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge, both in Minnesota and part of the Plains and Prairie Potholes LCC. Four new biological positions, including a hydrologist, aquatic/marine specialist, terrestrial species specialist and a forester/botanist, will be added at Alligator River (NC); Cape Romain (SC); Okefenokee (GA); and Savannah (SC) National Wildlife Refuges. Their work will focus on Refuge System I&M priorities and feed into the South Atlantic LCCs.

    LCCs will not make conservation management decisions for any partner or refuge. Rather, they will provide the high-quality science on which such decisions should be based. “LCCs develop a blueprint for landscape sustainability,” says Uihlein, “and it’s up to managers to decide how and where to implement particular practices based on that information.”

    Migratory Birds a Hit at the 2010 Heritage Fest

    This was the first year that the Erie NWR used a theme to coordinate all the activities at the Refuge during the Guys Mills Heritage Fest and it was a big hit, especially with the kids. Migratory Birds was the theme and it lent itself to a variety of activities, games and other learning experiences.

    Children were able to view life birds courtesy of Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center, play a life sized board game using themselves as markers, participate in a scavenger hunt using just their eyes and a score sheet, use binoculars to find toy birds in the trees, make bird tracks, pose for a picture with a stuffed owl and much more.

    For the adults there were artists displaying their art inside the building, a talk by Gene Morton, an ornithologist retired from the Smithsonian Institution, or a bird walk lead by Rich Eakin. There were also many opportunities to learn about the Erie National Wildlife Refuge and their programs.

    Also new this year was a chance to earn a "Let's Go Birding" patch and certificate. Each time a child completed an activity they were given a string of beads that when put together and glued to a magnet made a picture of an Eagle. The beads also proved that the child had earned his or her patch. We saw a lot of budding birders that day!

    For more photos go here.

    Refuge Association Announces Grants to Assist Gulf Coast Refuges
    First Grant Awarded to Friends of Bon Secour for Dune Planting Project

    Washington, DC- The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) has announced the award of a $3,000 grant to the Friends of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Gulf Shores, Alabama, for a project to stabilize the refuge's fragile sand dunes and attempt to keep oil out of fragile wetlands. Bon Secour NWR is one of the first Gulf coast wildlife refuges to be impacted by the BP oil gusher that began April 20. The Refuge Association's grant is the first to be awarded from a special fund set up to aid refuge "Friends" groups responding to the Gulf disaster. Other refuge Friends groups along the Gulf coast can apply for funding for spill-related work by contacting Joan Patterson (202-292-2422). Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis with no deadlines, and will be reviewed by NWRA staff.

    More than 30 volunteers from the Friends of Bon Secour NWR–including a local sixth-grade class– braved 105-degree heat indexes for a week in June to plant stabilizing beach grasses on newly enhanced dunes at six locations within the refuge. They planted 5,000 native sea oats plants, along with other vegetation. Once established, the sea oats’ 20- to 30-foot-deep root systems will help prevent the sand from being blown away and oil from washing in. "Our volunteers played a critical role in getting this done," says Ralph Gilges, President of the Friends of Bon Secour NWR. "The refuge didn’t have either the funds or the staff to accomplish this on their own. They called on us, and we were able to step in. We’re extremely grateful to the National Wildlife Refuge Association for this grant, which covers our direct costs for 3,000 sea oats plants."

    Since the first days of the BP disaster, the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) has been alerting its supporters to the fact that as many as 36 refuges in the path of the spill could be adversely affected by the spreading oil. Many of those supporters have sent donations. "Even at the best of times, national wildlife refuges rely on the efforts of dedicated volunteers for as much as 20 percent of the work that gets done in these special places," says Evan Hirsche, President of the Refuge Association. "In a catastrophe like this one, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff charged with managing refuges are overwhelmed, and the need for volunteers is even more critical. This new grant program is part of our commitment to help FWS and other Friends groups of Gulf coast refuges respond to the disaster."

    Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, whose name means "safe harbor" in French, is small but important. Its 7,000 acres provide vital habitat for shorebirds and for more than 350 species of migratory birds. As one of the largest undeveloped parcels along Alabama’s coast, Bon Secour’s fragile dunes, beaches and marshlands are home to a variety of species, including critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, the endangered Alabama beach mouse and piping plover, and rare least terns.

    Additional media resources: Video of beach stabilization: http://www.refugeassociation.org/new-issues/delta.html

    The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity. NWRA works across the U.S. to conserve the most biologically sensitive landscapes, enlisting the support of local citizens and diverse state and federal partners. In addition, NWRA provides training and guidance to more than 250 local refuge "Friends" volunteer groups that are vital to creating public support for national wildlife refuges and wildlife conservation. www.refugeassociation.org

    Will the Gulf Oil Spill Affect Backyard Birds?
    Scientists ask bird watchers to monitor nests

    Ithaca, NY—As oil washes ashore along the Gulf Coast, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is asking birders to keep an eye on nesting birds—not just near water, but hundreds of miles inland.

    “Wildlife biologists are monitoring species such as pelicans and plovers in the immediate path of the oil,” said Laura Burkholder at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “But we need bird watchers across the country to help us find out if birds that pass through or winter in the Gulf region carry contamination with them, possibly creating an ‘oil shadow’ of declines in bird reproduction hundreds of miles from the coast.”

    To help, Burkholder said that anyone with an interest in birds can learn how to find and monitor nests as part of the Cornell Lab’s NestWatch project (www.nestwatch.org). It involves visiting a nest for a few minutes, twice per week, and recording information such as how many eggs it contains, how many chicks hatch, and how many leave the nest.

    “Many birds that nest in backyards all across North America, such as Red-winged Blackbirds and Tree Swallows, spend part of the year along the Gulf of Mexico, where they could be affected by the oil spill,” Bukholder said. “Toxins often have profound effects on reproduction, and it’s possible that toxins encountered in one environment can affect the birds in another environment, after they arrive on their breeding grounds.”

    When participants across large regions contribute information, Burkholder said, scientists can assess changes in nesting success in relation to environmental factors such as habitat loss, climate change, and pollution.

    Citizen-science participants have helped the Cornell Lab monitor the success rates of nesting birds for 45 years. Now, Burkholder said, it’s especially critical to capture data on nesting birds to reveal the health of birds before they encounter the oil spill—as well as in the years ahead, to detect possible long-term effects.

    To help the effort, visit www.nestwatch.org. In addition to accepting observations from the general public, NestWatch is available as a data repository for wildlife agencies and scientific organizations to support their research on the impacts of the oil spill.

    The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s web site at http://www.birds.cornell.edu.

    June 2010

    SC Johnson Assists National Wildlife Refuge Association with the Gulf Oil Disaster Grant Funds Public Awareness Campaign, Wildlife and Habitat "Safety Net"

    Washington, DC- The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) is pleased to announce that SC Johnson has awarded a grant to assist NWRA in responding to the wildlife and habitat impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil-rig blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. SC Johnson will partner with NWRA to generate public awareness about the wildlife and national wildlife refuges affected by the Gulf disaster, and will support NWRA’s efforts to pursue a "natural safety net" for wildlife species and habitats harmed by the still-unfolding environmental disaster.

    "While much of the response to the Gulf oil disaster has understandably centered on providing help to the families and communities whose livelihoods are being devastated by the spill, it’s imperative that we also focus on the long-term impacts to wildlife and their habitats," said Evan Hirsche, President of the Refuge Association. "More than 30 of our national wildlife refuges and the hundreds of wildlife species they protect are in imminent danger from the oil spill. We are grateful for SC Johnson’s support in helping us ensure that strategies are in place to secure the conservation of manatees, sea turtles, brown pelicans, whales, migratory birds, bluefin tuna, and other impacted species into the future."

    "For decades, SC Johnson has been committed to preserving and protecting our environment," said Kelly M. Semrau, Vice President - Global Public Affairs and Communication at SC Johnson. "We are glad to partner with NWRA in cleaning and protecting our Gulf coast culture now and for future generations."

    The gushing leak in the Gulf of Mexico has polluted the water with more than one hundred million gallons of oil, jeopardizing the Gulf’s marine ecosystem and the rich diversity of life it supports. Along the Gulf coast, tens of thousands of nesting pelicans, herons, egrets, and shorebirds are in harm’s way from oil washing up on their nesting grounds. The endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, one of four species of sea turtles that depend on Gulf waters and beaches for survival, could be lost forever. The endangered West Indian manatee, whose population declined sharply during the extremely cold winter of 2009-10, is in danger from oil and toxic chemical dispersants. Oil already has washed up on several refuges, including Delta and Breton National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) in Louisiana, Grand Bay NWR in Mississippi, and Bon Secour NWR in Alabama. With no end to the disaster in sight, wildlife populations could be decimated.

    SC Johnson’s support will facilitate NWRA’s media outreach work; support NWRA’s efforts to engage volunteers in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s spill response; and assist NWRA as it leads a diverse coalition of organizations to create a "natural safety net" to secure the well-being of harmed species into the future.

    About NWRA
    The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity. NWRA works across the U.S. to conserve the most biologically sensitive landscapes, enlisting the support of local citizens and diverse state and federal partners. In addition, NWRA provides training and guidance to more than 250 local refuge "Friends" volunteer groups that are vital to creating public support for national wildlife refuges and wildlife conservation. www.refugeassociation.org

    About SC Johnson
    SC Johnson is a family-owned and managed business dedicated to innovative, high-quality products, excellence in the workplace and a long-term commitment to the environment and the communities in which it operates. Based in the USA, the company is one of the world's leading manufacturers of household cleaning products and products for home storage, air care, and insect control. It markets such well-known brands as GLADE®, OFF!®, PLEDGE®, RAID®, SCRUBBING BUBBLES®, SHOUT®, WINDEX® and ZIPLOC® in the U.S. and beyond, with brands marketed outside the U.S. including AUTAN®, BAYGON®, BRISE®, ECHO®, KABIKILLER®, KLEAR®, and MR. MUSCLE®. The 124-year-old company, with more than $8 billion in sales, employs approximately 12,000 people globally and sells products in virtually every country around the world. www.scjohnson.com

    National Wildlife Refuge Association Backs Government Decision to Halt Louisiana Dredging

    Washington, DC- The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) today praised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their decision to halt the State of Louisiana’s dredging operations near the Breton National Wildlife Refuge off Louisiana’s coast. The refuge, most of which is a federally designated Wilderness area, is located on the Chandeleur Islands, and is home to tens of thousands of nesting sea- and shore-birds, including brown pelicans, piping plovers, and least terns. All these species are in grave danger from the BP oil disaster. According to Refuge Association President Evan Hirsche, "the State of Louisiana has blatantly disregarded the terms of federal dredging permits, conducting massive dredging operations close to the Chandeleurs despite a legally binding agreement to dredge farther offshore. The federal government did the right thing in calling a halt to this illegal activity."

    Despite the concerns of federal and independent scientists that dredging could amount to nothing more than an expensive boondoggle that could do more harm than good for the fragile wetlands of Louisiana’s coast, the Interior Department and Corps of Engineers expedited the federal permit process to allow Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to dredge sand and construct protective berms offshore. The permits allowed for dredging three miles off the coast, yet Jindal defied the permits’ restrictions and commenced dredging close to the Chandeleurs, leading to yesterday’s decision to shut down the operation. "The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Corps of Engineers went to great lengths to get Gov. Jindal the permits he needed to build the berms, yet he flouted the rules and did as he pleased," said Hirsche. "It’s disingenuous for him now to blame the government for his own transgressions."

    "We understand Governor Jindal’s concern for his state’s residents and economy, and are sympathetic to the devastation the BP oil gusher has caused to Louisiana’s people and communities," said Hirsche. "However, two wrongs don’t make a right, and Gov. Jindal had an obligation to abide by the terms of his state’s agreement with the federal government."

    The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity. NWRA works across the U.S. to conserve the most biologically sensitive landscapes, enlisting the support of local citizens and diverse state and federal partners. In addition, NWRA provides training and guidance to more than 250 local refuge "Friends" volunteer groups that are vital to creating public support for national wildlife refuges and wildlife conservation.

    French Creek Cleanup

    The Friends of Erie NWR would like to get a team together to participate in the French Creek Valley Conservancy's 18th Annual French Creek Cleanup to be held September 11th from 9am until 3pm. Cleanup crews should be able to paddle or walk a few miles and lift possibly heavy trash. Drivers and support personal may also be needed.

    Participants receive a free T-shirt and a picnic lunch at Bicentennial Park. Music at the picnic preformed by Unkle John's Band. Prizes are awarded based on weight and uniqueness of trash collected.

    For more information on the event visit http://frenchcreekconservancy.allegheny.edu/cleanup.html

    If you are at all interested in participating in this project please email us at info@friendsofenwr.org or call the Refuge at 814-789-3585 and we can get the planning started.

    Top Ten Reasons to Purchase a Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp

    1. There are over 540 individual units within the United States. Each refuge is managed as a protected haven for birds and other wildlife. Since 1934, a huge proportion of the funds used to acquire these critical habitats in the lower-48 states were provided through sales of what is today known as Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps – commonly called “Duck Stamps.” All outdoor recreationists who enjoy wildlife and natural landscapes can thank those who have already purchased stamps over the decades, for they have contributed over $700 million and protected 5.3 million acres of habitat for wildlife and future generations of people.

    2. The Stamp costs only $15 and it’s easy for everyone to purchase – nearly all Post Offices carry them. Even better, it is extremely cost-effective: fully 98 cents out of every dollar ($14.70) goes directly to acquire land for the Refuge System. This $15-purchase is perhaps the single simplest thing one can do to support a legacy of wetland and grassland conservation for birds.

    3. The funds not only go to refuges, but since 1958, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has used a portion of the Stamp revenues to purchase wetland and grassland habitats within the Prairie Pothole Region of the upper Midwest and northern Great Plains. Through their Small Wetlands Acquisition Program, the FWS has perpetually protected and conserved nearly 3 million acres of wetland and grassland habitat for prairie wildlife. These small wetlands and grassland complexes - commonly referred to as Waterfowl Production Areas or WPAs - include more than 29,000 permanent easements, covering 2.1 million acres, and approximately 7,000 fee tracts, totaling over 677,000 acres of habitat for wetland and grassland wildlife. All WPAs are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Every unit in this system provides important benefits to migratory bird species, other wildlife, water quality, aquifer replenishment, and the environment in general.

    4. In response to serious downward trends of many species of "prairie" nesting birds, the FWS began purchasing permanent grassland easements to conserve existing habitat for prairie nesting birds. The grassland easement program is integrally related to and compliments the FWS's fee acquisition programs.

    5. The purchase of a Stamp is not something that will just benefit ducks. Among scores of other bird species, numerous kinds of shorebirds, long-legged waders, and wetland and grassland songbirds are dependent on habitat derived from Stamp purchases. (Densities of grassland bird species such as Bobolink, Grasshopper Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow and Sedge Wren, are remarkably higher on Refuge System grasslands than on the landscape in general.)

    6. You can say the same about that status of other wildlife – not only birds – and water quality as benefiting from the use of the Stamp. Reptiles, amphibians, fish, butterflies, all flourish through Stamp investments. Water quality is also strengthened.

    7. Some of the most diverse and wildlife-rich refuges in the nation have been acquired with Stamp funds. For example, see the following list of refuges and the percentage paid for by Stamp purchases.

      Sacramento in California 99.6%
      Parker River in Massachusetts 99.3%
      Bosque del Apache in New Mexico 99.2%
      Pea Island in North Carolina 99.2%
      Quivira in Kansas 99.1%
      Horicon in Wisconsin 98.7%
      Muskatatuk in Indiana 98.9%
      Monomoy in Massachusetts 97.8%
      Bombay Hook in Delaware 95.1%
      Santa Ana in Texas 94.9%
      DeSoto in Iowa and Nebraska 90.8%
      Okefenokee in Georgia 88.2%
      Anahuac in Texas 87.5%
      Ottawa in Ohio 86.4%
      Laguna Atascosa in Texas 86.0%
      Edwin B. Forsythe (Brigantine) in New Jersey 84.3%
      Blackwater in Maryland 77.6%

      And if that isn’t enough incentive, consider that 99.8% of all WPAs in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana were acquired through Stamp funding.

    8. A Stamp is a “free pass” for an entire year – for a vehicle full of people at all refuges that charge for admission – a real bargain if ever there was one!

    9. Whether or not you’re a hunter of any sort, you can appreciate the wise balance of activities ascribed through Congressional refuge legislation and Stamp application over the years (e.g., 1935, 1958, 1966, 1978).  Basically, all refuges established under the authority of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act with an "inviolate sanctuary" purpose for migratory bird conservation, can open up to 40% of the total acreage of said refuges to migratory bird hunting. In practice, and especially since the late 1970s, this 40% standard balance can be exceeded only when such migratory bird hunting activity is determined to be compatible with the purposes for which the refuge was established or if the Secretary of the Interior determines that it would be "beneficial to the species."

    10. The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation [Duck] Stamp is probably the best-kept secret in all of bird conservation. And, by buying and displaying a Stamp you will show that you appreciate what long-term habitat protection for all birds and other wildlife is, and that you care!

    The White House Is Listening
    By Greg Siekaniec
    Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System

    Could this be the next chapter in wildlife, land and water conservation history in America?

    The White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors, held April 16, ignited hope in those of us who have been waiting for years for an administration to be this interested in the Refuge System and conservation across the landscape.

    I was in the audience at the Department of the Interior when President Obama talked of Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation legacy, saying, “From [Roosevelt’s] commitment sprang an effort to save the great redwoods of California and the petrified forest of Arizona, the great bird rocks of the Aleutian Islands and the Tongass of Alaska. From that commitment sprang a breathtaking legacy of conservation that still enhances our lives . . . and, no matter how long I have the privilege of serving as President, I know I can never match it. But I do intend to enrich that legacy, and I feel an abiding bond with the land that is the United States of America.”

    The president spoke about the pursuit and partnership of conservation outside of Washington – by state and local governments, by tribes and by private groups – “so we can write a new chapter in the protection of rivers, wildlife habitats, historic sites and the great landscapes of our country.” He promised help to landowners – including ranchers and farmers – who want to conserve their land, and to families so they can spend more time outdoors. President Obama vowed to help foster a new generation of community and urban parks so that “children across America have the chance to experience places like Millennium Park in my own Chicago.”

    Finally, he noted, “Even in times of crisis, we’re called to take the long view to preserve our national heritage – because in doing so we fulfill some of the responsibilities that falls to all of us as Americans, as inhabitants of this small planet.”

    So, where do we go from here? First, make your voice heard. Go to the Department of the Interior Web site to join the conversation: http://www.doi.gov//americasgreatoutdoors/. Scroll down the page to the link to “Share Your Story,” where you can tell the White House and the Department just how important wildlife refuges, waterfowl productions areas, conservation easements and large working landscapes are to you and your community. You can even leave photos of your favorite places.

    Then there’s the link to “Share Your Ideas & Join the Conversation,” where you can tell the administration your thoughts about what should be happening regarding land conservation. Now you can share conservation strategies that engage communities, explain how to build buffers around protected areas by using conservation easements or, explain the value of wetland easements in the prairies. You can give examples of successful projects and partnerships where you have delivered conservation strategies. Talk about the role and influence that all agencies – state and federal – can have on conservation when we together work toward common conservation goals.

    Second, the Secretary of the Interior will be holding public listening sessions. Frequent the Department Web page (http://www.doi.gov/) regularly to make sure you get to one of those public sessions.

    I can’t recall a time when we have been presented with this kind of chance to make our viewpoints known. The White House has opened the dialogue. It’s our job to engage, listen and learn so we can enrich the discussion and, most important, the results.

    Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

    As hundreds of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff work furiously in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, Americans across the country are wondering what they can do. Here are some information sources:

    1. Continuous updates on the oil spill are being provided online by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: http://www.fws.gov/home/dhoilspill/index.html

    2. To volunteer or report oiled shoreline, call 866-448-5816.

    3. To report oiled wildlife, call 866-557-1401.
    Four states have their own Web sites for volunteers:
    1. Louisiana: http://www.volunteerlouisiana.gov/

    2. Mississippi: http://www.volunteermississippi.org/1800Vol/OpenIndexAction.do

    3. Florida: http://www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org/

    4. Alabama: http://www.servealabama.gov/2010/default.aspx
    To submit a claim for damages, citizens should call 800-440-0858.

    Trained in Handling Contaminants

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t wait for crises like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to learn how to handle contaminants that threaten people and wildlife. Service leaders routinely assign staffers to attend 24 to 40 hours of specialized training in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, commonly known as HAZWOPER training.

    The Occupational Safety & Health Administration requires training for all federal employees who are likely to encounter or supervise the handling of hazardous materials. The training teaches participants how to minimize health and safety risks from exposure to toxic chemicals.

    Frank Drauszewski, deputy refuge manager from Parker River National Wildlife Refuge (http://www.fws.gov/northeast/parkerriver/) in Newburyport, Massachusetts, began HAZWOPER training the same week the Deepwater Horizon well exploded in the Gulf. The course was planned months earlier. Along with Drauszewski was Parker River’s Park Ranger Chris Husgen and 13 more employees from National Wildlife Refuge’s in the northeast region.

    “Since I work on a coastal refuge, I felt it was important to have a couple of people trained in this area,” said Drauszewski. “You can’t pick up oiled birds or work on cleanup unless you have HAZWOPER training.”

    Participants had barely zipped up their white hazmat suits and adjusted their respirators before the size of the Gulf oil disaster became apparent. Since classes ended several trainees have been deployed to crisis teams in the Gulf.

    The training was led by Joseph Trujillo, Owner and Director of Training for Intermountain Technical Solutions, a government contractor based in Tooele, Utah. According to Trujillo, he’s trained more than 130,000 federal and private sector employees, including more than 1,000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel in 18 years of hazardous material classes.

    All Service personnel in the field responding to the Gulf crisis have received HAZWOPER training. In a crisis such as Deepwater, responders might receive an intensive four-hour training class instead of the longer 24 or 40-hour training sessions.

    Trujillo said the most important advice for people joining emergency response teams in the Gulf is to remember that while toxic chemicals can be managed, the greatest risk to people is fire. “There’s no easy system to protect ourselves from flammable environments,” he said, “so whether we’re working with a solvent or other chemical that will degrade the crude oil, we have to be ever mindful of the risk of fire.”

    For more information, visit the Deepwater Horizon Joint Information Center’s Web site at: http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/ To learn more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s response, visit: http://www.fws.gov/home/dhoilspill/index.html

    CARE to Obama: Take Wildlife Refuge Cuts Off the Table
    Cutting Refuge Funding Would Have Dire Consequences in Wake of Gulf Oil Spill

    June 10, 2010 (Washington, DC) – In a letter delivered to President Obama today, a national coalition of wildlife conservation and sporting organizations has asked the President to take cuts to the National Wildlife Refuge System’s budget off the table as he considers cutting federal agency spending by five percent in FY 2012. The coalition called the proposed cuts "wrong and inappropriate" at a time when refuges and the species they protect are dealing with potentially one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history in the Gulf of Mexico.

    "It is neither the time nor the place to propose funding cuts for the National Wildlife Refuge System or for the Fish and Wildlife Service," said Evan Hirsche, Chair of the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE). "Agencies are already spread thin responding to the belching oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and the President’s proposed five percent budget cut would have dire consequences in the Refuge System’s ability to help wildlife recover. The survival of species like the brown pelican, which was only recently removed from the endangered species list, is now looking more bleak than it did just a year ago."

    National wildlife refuges protect a host of species that are being decimated in the Gulf of Mexico, including sea turtles, manatees and numerous migratory birds. The FWS is projecting that 20% of its nationwide staff will be deployed to the Gulf at some point to address the ongoing crisis, making it difficult for the agency to address ongoing refuge needs or future emergencies such as floods, hurricanes, and forest fires. Should the proposed funding cuts occur, the problems will be magnified ten-fold. Understaffed wildlife refuges will be forced to make difficult decisions to cut programs that protect wildlife, such as vital scientific monitoring programs. Ultimately, the cuts will compromise the System’s congressionally mandated conservation mission.

    Download CARE's letter to the President here: http://www.fundrefuges.org/care/potus_fy12.pdf

    May 2010

    Geocaching on the Refuge

    On May 22nd a special geocaching event was held on the Erie NWR. This event was made possible by a partnership between the National Wildlife Federation and the ENWR. This was a test of a pilot program which may be implemented nationally.

    Geocaching is a high tech treasure hunt using a hand held GPS unit. Treasure boxes, or "geocaches", were placed along three of the hiking trails on the Refuge. While hints were given about the locations the object was to find the boxes using the GPS coordinates. Once you found the boxes you were to sign the log book and you had the opportunity to trade for trinkets in the cache. Then the cache was hidden back where it was found, ready for the next person to come along.

    The day dawned rainy but that didn't keep the participants away. Many groups and families braved the weather and finished all three courses. Whether or not the test was a success, the day certainly was, and a great time was had by all. Especially the kids!

    On Birthday of Silent Spring Author, Wildlife Again in Danger

    Brown Pelicans and Other Species on the Brink as Oil Inundates Coastal Refuges

    Washington, DC- When Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, brown pelicans and other birds were among those in danger of extinction from the effects of pesticides like DDT. Carson, whose birthday is celebrated today, spurred public outrage and launched a new era of strong government protection for air, land, water and wildlife. As the Gulf oil disaster continues unabated, the brown pelican again hangs on to survival by a slim thread. Only recently removed from the Endangered Species list, brown pelicans, which nest at the Breton and Delta National Wildlife Refuges on the Louisiana coast, are threatened by the toxic aftermath of millions of gallons of oil released from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. Some 30 National Wildlife Refuges along the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida coasts are in imminent danger from the flood of oil, along with the birds, mammals, fish, crustaceans and plant life they protect.

    "Rachel Carson reminded us that all life is connected, and that breaking the threads that make up the web of life can have tragic consequences," said Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. "The BP disaster puts not only the human communities of the Gulf coast at great risk, but also the natural communities on which all human life depends. Our coastal National Wildlife Refuges are crucial ecosystems that play a key role in protecting the livelihoods and health of Gulf coast residents."

    Hirsche commended President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for their leadership in announcing a six-month moratorium on all new offshore drilling, including a proposed new project in the Arctic Ocean offshore from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. "As the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico makes clear, spilled oil is a deadly toxin for wildlife. We cannot afford to risk another oil disaster in a place that has been called ’America's Serengeti.’ Just as Rachel Carson spurred strong government regulation of air and water pollution, we hope that the Gulf oil disaster will launch a new era of strong government oversight of our precious natural resources."

    The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.

    NWRA Urges Donations to Aid Gulf Coast Refuge Friends Groups

    Washington, DC- The National Wildlife Refuge Association, which works with tens of thousands of volunteers across the country in support of the 150-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, today launched a Gulf oil spill relief fund and volunteer registry. With oil expected to severely impact critical wildlife refuge habitat in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, funds and volunteers will be vital in supporting the efforts of local volunteer refuge "Friends" organizations.

    "There are 20 national wildlife refuges in the immediate path of the oil spill, and they depend on Friends organization volunteers to provide critical support to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service professionals," said Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. "20% of the work done on our federal refuges is already being done by volunteers; the disaster in the Gulf is going to require an even greater volunteer commitment."

    While BP must be held accountable for clean up costs, groups such as the Friends of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge on the Alabama coast are doing whatever they can to help refuge professionals now to prepare for oil which is expected to reach their refuge by the weekend. Friends groups and volunteers at refuges in the path of the spill will assist refuge staff gather as much baseline data as possible before the oil makes landfall. From water samples to bird, mammal and turtle counts, Friends will help refuge staff accurately detail what could be lost.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified an additional five national wildlife refuges that are under most immediate threat by the oil spill: Delta NWR, LA; Breton NWR, LA; Bayou Sauvage NWR, LA; Grand Bay NWR, MS and Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR, MS. These refuges are historically and ecologically significant and the timing of the spill could not happen at a worse time. Birds that are nesting right now include wading birds such as egrets and herons, seabirds, and beach nesters that live in large colonies, such as gulls, terns and skimmers. Contact with a drop of oil as small a dime can cause fatalities in many birds.

    The National Wildlife Refuge Association works with more than 220 Refuge Friends Groups throughout the country, of which 192 are affiliates. These local not-for-profit organizations along with dedicated volunteers nationwide are crucial to protecting our national wildlife refuges and Americas wildlife heritage.

    To donate to NWRA's fund, register to volunteer, or learn about how oil will impact Gulf refuges and wildlife, visit:


    The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America's wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.

    The Friends of ENWR Has a New Page on Facebook

    The Friends of ENWR has a new page on Facebook. You can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=119983438021998&ref=mf

    If you are a Facebook user please join and feel free to post your thoughts about and adventures on the Erie NWR. Hope to see you there!

    April 2010

    Let Your Voice Be Heard on America’s Great Outdoors

    President Obama has launched a national dialogue about conservation in America following the April 16 White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors, where more than 600 invited sports enthusiasts, conservationists and others joined in the first such conference in more than a century. Americans are now being encouraged to share their ideas about community-level conservation.

    Americans can share their stories about the places where they caught their first fish, camped for the first time, or discovered their connections to America’s great outdoors. There are the places where families spend time together, where children play, and where we each forge memories that stay with us for a lifetime. You can add your comments about national wildlife refuges and other special places – along with photos – at: http://www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors/Feedback.cfm.

    Another site -- http://ideas.usda.gov/ago/ideas.nsf/ -- is called the “idea jam,” where people can give their viewpoints on. People are already leaving their comments on the Web site, where Web visitors are encouraged to vote for ideas they like on the issues:

    1. Reconnecting with the Great Outdoors: Where you can give your ideas for helping Americans get outside and recommend with the nation’s land and water, history and culture, and wildlife.
    2. Public Lands Conservation: Which open spaces, watersheds, historic or cultural sites, wildlife habitat or other public lands are most important to you, and what can be done at the local, state or federal level to improve their management?
    3. Private Lands Conservation: How can the U.S. better support the voluntary efforts of farmers, ranchers and private landowners?
    At the conclusion of the April 16 White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors, President Obama signed a memorandum launching America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. As a follow up to the conference, members of the administration, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, will host regional sessions in coming months with groups and individuals across the country to discuss ideas that will form a 21st century conservation agenda.

    NWRA/Southwest Airlines Celebrate Earth Day with Refuge Volunteer Days

    Washington, DC- In celebration of Earth Day, the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) and Southwest Airlines have teamed up to provide volunteer opportunities for Southwest employees on wildlife refuges in Florida and Georgia. Both states are home to some of the most biologically rich refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, and rely heavily on volunteers to achieve their vital wildlife conservation objectives.

    "I can think of no better way to observe Earth Day than to volunteer on one of our 554 national wildlife refuges," said Evan Hirsche, President of the NWRA. "We’re excited to partner with Southwest Airlines to provide a little "Luv" for our national wildlife refuges in Florida and Georgia!"

    America’s national wildlife refuges are invaluable to wildlife and offer outstanding opportunities for people to experience and appreciate our natural world -- there’s a national wildlife refuge within just an hours drive of nearly all major metropolitan areas. Refuges in Florida and Georgia protect a wide variety of wildlife including manatees, alligators, Florida panthers, whooping cranes, and almost countless migratory bird species. Yet all face challenges from invasive species, pollution and human encroachment, and depend on active and engaged local communities.

    "What is important to the community is important to us, which is why we are thrilled to have partnered with the National Wildlife Refuge Association to preserve these natural spaces," said Linda Rutherford, Vice President of Communication and Strategic Outreach. "Being a good steward of the environment is the right thing to do, and each day our Employees Share the Spirit to make our world a better place."

    Volunteer days will occur during Earth Day and over the coming weeks at Crystal River, Merritt Island, Okefenokee, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee, J.N. "Ding" Darling and Florida Panther national wildlife refuges. Refuge Friends groups will assist refuge staff at each of these locations, and projects will range from removing fishing line from mangroves, to removing invasive species and picking up trash.

    The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America's wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.

    NWRA Presents Vision for 'America's Great Outdoors'

    Washington, DC- At the White House Conference on America's Great Outdoors, the National Wildlife Refuge Association today commended President Obama for launching a nation-wide discussion on the future of conservation in America, and released "Conserving America's Great Outdoors," a report that presents a vision and set of guidelines to help inform the President’s vision.

    "Like Teddy Roosevelt 100 years ago, the President has an extraordinary opportunity to shape the nation's conservation vision for the next century," said Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. "Our challenges are great, but the ingredients are there for achieving success in conserving wildlife and habitat for the benefit of the American people."

    The conservation framework of the last century protected natural gems from the Florida Keys to the Alaskan Arctic, and in a true American success story prevented the extinction of iconic species such as the American bison. Yet in spite of these inspiring successes, our wildlife and wild places continue to be harmed by habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and the effects of climate change.

    Also today, NWRA released a report entitled "Conserving America’s Great Outdoors." The report presents a series of guidelines that include diversifying partnerships and funding opportunities, as well as emphasizing climate change mitigation values, stakeholder participation, and opportunities for youth conservation engagement. It highlights ten "Flagship Landscapes" that illustrate how conservation success can be achieved when these criteria are applied in major ecosystems such as the Northern Everglades in Florida.

    "America’s Great Outdoors can be the mechanism for re-engaging the reconnecting the American people with our natural heritage," said Hirsche. "Success in conserving wildlife will in turn assure the improved health of the nation and a sustainable future for our children."

    Working with the nearly 250 National Wildlife Refuge Friends groups, and in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the 150-million-acre Refuge System, NWRA seeks to conserve American wildlife through innovative partnerships across the country.

    Download "Conserving Americas Great Outdoors" here: http://www.refugeassociation.org/new-pdf-files/AmGreatOutdoors.pdf

    The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America's wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.

    March 2010

    Rescued Manatee Named “Hamilton”

    A juvenile manatee rescued by staff and volunteers at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida has been named Hamilton in honor of the late Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sam Hamilton.

    In February, the refuge heard reports of a young manatee using Three Sisters Springs on its own with no mother. The manatee already had old scars that seemed to have healed until it was hit by another boat, leaving an inflamed bruise on its back. The manatee rescue team answered the call on February 28. Four people stretched a cargo net under the manatee and carried the animal to land, after which it was taken to Lowry Park Zoo. The refuge asked that the manatee be named Hamilton. The zoo estimates it is about 18 months old – not yet an adult.

    Chassahowitza Refuge Complex manager Michael Lusk says, “Zoos normally keep the manatees for about one year to observe their recovery and make sure they are strong enough for release. After that, they are released in the general area where they were captured and monitored for another year to make sure they are doing okay in the wild.”

    Through the Lens: Reflections
    by Gabby Salazar

    Have you ever looked at your reflection in a pool of water? Reflections are fun to photograph because of the way they both mirror and change the way objects look.

    You may have noticed how your reflection in a pool of water changes if it is windy or if there are ripples in the water. The next time you visit a large lake, river, or another body of water at a national wildlife refuge, bring along your camera and experiment!

    Tips for Photographing Reflections:

    • For clear reflections visit the body of water on a day with no wind so that the water is still. On the other hand, I like it better when there is a little wind so that the reflections change each time the wind moves the water.
    • Try tossing a small pebble into the water to create ripples and other patterns in your image.
    • Take pictures of flowers or leaves reflected in the water – they may be crisp and clear over a still lake or blend together in a moving river. Try taking a landscape image including the reflections or focus just on the reflection to create an abstract picture.
    Take a picture of a bird, animal, plant, or person in or on the water and include the reflection to create a mirror-image as in this picture of a turtle. Flip the image upside down to fool the viewer — if the water is still enough you may not be able to tell the difference between the real object and its reflection.

    Gabby Salazar is founder and editor of the online magazine Nature's Best Photography Students, where young people submit photos for contests and online publication, blog with each other about nature photography and view student photo galleries.

    Michigan’s First Wetland of International Importance

    Humbug Marsh on Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge has become Michigan’s first Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. The marsh serves as vital habitat for 51 species of fish, 90 species of plants, 154 species of birds, seven species of reptiles and amphibians, and 37 species of dragonflies and damselflies.

    Humbug Marsh is the 27th Ramsar site to be listed in the U.S. and joins approximately 1,880 sites listed worldwide. The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty that was signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971 to encourage voluntary protection of wetlands. Countries that sign the treaty demonstrate their commitment to conserve wetlands as a contribution toward sustainable development throughout the world.  

    To receive this prestigious designation, a wetland must meet at least one of nine criteria, such as supporting rare species, providing a significant hydrological function, or serving as essential habitat for large numbers of fish and waterfowl. Humbug Marsh met five of the nine criteria.

    Newsletter Gets New Name - Look

    Our Friends newsletter has gotten a new name... Duck Tales. At the last board meeting Duck Tales was selected from a list suggested by members. Watch your mail for the spring edition, it should be coming your way soon.

    Heritage Fest Update

    The plans for the 4th Annual Guys Mills Heritage Fest are coming together nicely. The Friends have been meeting with representatives from other organizations in town the last couple of months to work out the details. There will be changes to some activities but some of your favorites will remain the same.

    The Faith Builders Educational Programs has decided to move their annual auction to a different date but, don't worry, they have found many other exciting activities to fill the void. In keeping with their focus on education, they will be offering a science demo, a used book sale, and are working on lining up other displays and activities. The usual historical displays will also be there but tours will only be available on request. Faith Builders will be offering pizza by the slice and soft pretzels for sale.

    The United Evangelical Free Church will not be holding their children's carnival this year but the popular cruise in car show is still going forward. They plan to offer live music, a puppet show and the bounce house. All your favorite carnival junk food will still be in attendance also.

    The Randolph Volunteer Fire Department's line up will remain the same. Kids can see the fire equipment, visit with Smokey Bear and learn about fire safety. The smoke house will be there to challenge young and old. Randolph's great grilled hamburgers and hot dogs will be for sale as well.

    The Erie National Wildlife Refuge will be going with the theme of Migratory Birds this year. The ever popular guided birds walks will fit right in with this theme and will be available on a regular schedule. Displays by the Audubon Society and Tamarack Rehab Center featuring live birds have been confirmed. At least three local nature artists will be displaying their work as well. Children can have fun playing games and making crafts while learning about nature. Patty is also working on an idea that would let kids earn a patch after completing the activities.

    The Guys Mills Heritage Fest will be held June 26, 2010 from 10:00am until 4:00pm. Mark your calendar today!

    WeLoveBirds.org Photo Contest Launches

    New York, NY & Ithaca, NY--The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology today announced the launch of the WeLoveBirds.org photo contest. Anyone can join this free interactive online community and submit one original photograph of a wild bird for the contest. Site members will vote for their favorite photographs. The winning photos will be announced and featured on Earth Day, April 22.

    WeLoveBirds.org offers an open social network of people who are passionate about birds; access to information on birds and birding from a leading ornithology lab; and an opportunity to make a positive difference for birds and their habitats. WeLoveBirds.org members can already submit photographs to the site, along with videos, comments, discussions, and blog posts.

    “WeLoveBirds.org members are amazing bird photographers”, said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, NRDC senior attorney. “WeLoveBirds.org already showcases over 3,000 photographs that have been posted by its members.”

    “WeLoveBirds.org is a place where birders from across the world are connecting with one another”, said Miyoko Chu, director of Communications at the Cornell Lab. “Photographs are a vibrant way to make these connections as people share their favorite photos and decide the winners.”

    The site represents a first partnership between NRDC and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, nationally recognized conservation organizations that will offer NRDC’s expertise in policy and advocacy and the Cornell Lab’s authoritative bird research, online birding resources, and citizen-science programs.

    For contest rules and information, go to: http://www.welovebirds.org/page/photo-contest

    Tap into tap water!

    DID YOU KNOW? Bottling and shipping water is the least efficient method of water delivery ever invented. The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes. But refilling your water bottle from the tap requires no expenditure of energy, and zero waste of resources (source Pbs.org). Link to a slide show below to see environmental consequences of using bottled water.

    Not all tap water is created equally, though. Here at the RO and at home, I drink tap water every day, but earlier this month I was in Florida and didn’t like the sulfur taste of the tap water there. Where is the best tasting tap water in the world? Hamilton, Ohio, according to the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting contest held last month. This competition touts itself as the largest of its kind in the world and is right here in our region at Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says tap and bottled water are both safe to drink if they meet standards set by the EPA and Food and Drug Administration, although people with severely compromised immune systems and children may have special needs. See EPA’s brochure on bottled water basics for more information. http://www.epa.gov/safewater/faq/pdfs/fs_healthseries_bottledwater.pdf

    If your water comes from a public water system, the best way to learn about your water is to read your water supplier’s annual water quality report. Use EPA’s interactive map at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/dwinfo/index.html to find out more. If your water comes from a household well, EPA recommends testing the water regularly for bacteria, nitrates, and other contaminants.

    Other information from the EPA:

    Some bottled water is treated more than tap water, while some is treated less or not treated at all. Bottled water costs much more than tap water on a per gallon basis. Bottled water is valuable in emergency situations (such as floods and earthquakes), and high quality bottled water may be a desirable option for people with weakened immune systems.

    Consumers who choose to purchase bottled water should carefully read its label to understand what they are buying, whether it is a better taste, or a certain method of treatment.

    Interesting links:

    2004 PBS POV Borders documentary series on water: http://www.pbs.org/pov/borders/2004/water/index.html

    Slide show on environmental effects of bottled water: http://lee.ifas.ufl.edu/AgNatRes/Sustainability/water-disaster.pdf

    Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting http://www.berkeleysprings.com/water/about.htm

    Writen by Catherine J. Hibbard, Wildlife Refuge Specialist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 5

    Northeast Friends Workshop

    The Northeast Friends Workshop was held March 5-7 at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in West Virginia. This year's workshop included Friends of Fish Hatcheries as well as Refuges in Region 5. The Friends of Erie NWR sent Ron & Char Oswald and Kathy Palmer to represent them. They came back with many ideas and a renewed energy and inspiration.

    A Friends Workshop is designed to bring Groups together for updates on Fish and Wildlife Service priorities and how they affect Refuges, an exchange of ideas between groups and a chance to learn about a range of topics. As well as presentations on the State of the Northeast Region Refuges, Understanding the Federal Budget Process and a Climate Change Panel Discussion smaller sessions were offered so that participants could choose what topics they would like to learn more about. Kathy, Char and Ron spit up to cover as many sessions as possible. The topics included Working with New Media, Running a Successful and Profitable Nature Store, National Wildlife Refuge System Birding Initiative, A Sampling of Outdoor Programs and Tools for Friends, Citizen Science, Building and Maintaining Membership, Firewise: Getting the Fire Message Out and Addressing the Challenges of Message Delivery.

    A Share Fair was a new feature of this workshop. Friends Groups could reserve table space for a display of their programs, activities and fundraising efforts. The three found many great ideas to bring back and share with the group at the last meeting.

    Alaska Road to Nowhere a Solution in Search of a Problem
    Another $30 Million for 800 Villagers Who Already Got $37.5 Million

    Washington, DC- The National Wildlife Refuge Association today called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to reject construction of a $30 million, nine-mile gravel "Road to Nowhere" through the biological heart of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, a premier American wilderness area. Comments were made at an Interior Department scoping meeting.

    "This boondoggle is a solution in search of a problem while endangering the biological heart of a national wildlife refuge," said Desiree Sorenson-Groves, NWRAs Vice-President of Government Affairs. "The American taxpayer should not be asked to shoulder the $30 million cost of an often-impassable road for a community of 800 people, particularly after giving them $37.5 million which has already addressed their needs."

    Congress solved King Cove’s health and safety needs in 1998, when it appropriated $37.5 million to this tiny community. Of that, $9 million was spent to purchase a 98–foot, all–weather hovercraft ferry that has a 100 percent success record with at least 35 medevacs to date. Another $26 million was spent building a still–incomplete and treacherous, single-lane gravel road that dead-ends at the edge of the refuge wilderness area. The remainder was allocated to create a state–of–the–art community medical clinic.

    With a top speed of 58mph, the hovercraft can ferry an ambulance between the two communities in just 20 minutes. Even the mayor of the Aleutians East Borough agrees, saying the hovercraft ferry is a "lifesaving machine," and "is doing what it is supposed to do."

    In order to help get legislation passed that ultimately required FWS to conduct and Environmental Impact Statement on the road, the Alaska Congressional delegation offered a land exchange. Izembek NWR and the nearby Alaska Peninsula NWR would receive an additional 61,723 acres in exchange for 206 acres to build the road. However, those 206 acres represent the biological heart of the refuge – and the road construction would have a severe impact on the birds and wildlife that depend on the refuge.

    "If we’re opposed to receiving more than 60,000 acres for the price of just 200 acres, you know its a bad deal," said Sorenson-Groves.

    Ninety–eight percent of the Pacific black brant population, medium–size geese that utilize the refuge as a critical stopover and nesting site, depend on this one location for survival. The species, which gorge on the eelgrass beds of Izembek Lagoon, flies non–stop between Izembek and wintering grounds in Mexico. Road construction could jeopardize their feeding – and their migration. In addition, the isthmus through which the road would be carved is an important corridor and foraging area for caribou and Alaska brown bear.

    The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve Americas wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.

    Download NWRA's Road to Nowhere Report at: http://www.refugeassociation.org/new-publications/Izembek.html.

    From C.A.R.E. Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement...

    Coalition Calls on Congress to Restore Funding for National Wildlife Refuge System

    March 8, 2010 (Washington, DC) – The U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System, which fuels the economic engine of local communities in all 50 states, is under threat from an Obama Administration proposal to significantly cut the system's budget. A report to be released to Congress today by the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) warns that unless Congress acts to restore funding for the Refuge System, the economic benefits that refuges provide could be in jeopardy at the very time they're needed most. Also at risk are the lands, waters, wildlife, birds and recreation opportunities that the more than 550 refuges in the 150-million-acre Refuge System were established to protect.

    The report, Restoring America's Wildlife Refuges 2010, notes that despite recent funding increases by Congress, the Refuge System is still funded at a level far below what is needed to fulfill some of its most basic functions. Because the Refuge System needs at least $15 million annually to maintain management capabilities in the face of inflation, if Congress does not act to reverse the administrations proposed cuts ($3.3 million below FY 2010 funding levels), those cuts combined with inflation will reduce the Refuge System's spending power by at least $18.3 million, warns CARE. That could translate into more crime on refuge lands, fewer programs for visitors, continued deterioration of refuge facilities, and a loss of protection for the birds, animals, fish, and plantsmany of them already endangered or threatenedthat call wildlife refuges home.

    Economic Benefits

    According to a 2006 economic analysis by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 87 percent of the $1.7 billion in annual refuge-related revenues is spent by travelers from outside the communities where refuges are located. This spending created almost 27,000 jobs and generated approximately $543 million in employment income.

    "National Wildlife Refuges bring in over 41 million visitors a year and pour nearly two billion dollars a year into local economies," says Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Chair of the CARE coalition. "Every dollar invested in the Refuge System returns, on average, $4 to local communities. This is no time to cripple a critical federal program that provides such an impressive return on investment."

    Key Findings

    In making the case for increased Refuge System funding, the CARE report found:

    • Refuges face a $3.7 billion backlog in deferred maintenance and operations funding. Washed-out trails, leaking roofs, closed roads, and broken equipment are just a few of the more than 11,000 problems currently waiting to be addressed on refuges nationwide. Unless funding is secured to address the backlog, many refuge facilities could deteriorate beyond repair.
    • Crime is a big problem in the Refuge System, yet only 213 officers patrol its more than 150 million acres. A minimum of 209 additional officers are needed (at an additional annual cost of $31.4 million) to protect refuge visitors and respond to crimes that include drug production and dealing, wildlife poaching, illegal border activity, assaults, and a variety of natural resource violations.
    • The Refuge System is fighting a losing battle against invasive plants and animals. Approximately 2.3 million acres of refuge lands are overrun with non-native invasive plants, while more than 4,400 invasive animal populations ravage millions more acres. The Refuge System needs at least $25 million per year to treat just one-third of its infested plant acreage and begin low-level control of invasive animals.
    • There has been a dramatic increase in oil and gas drilling on 155 refuges, but the Refuge System is not well equipped to oversee these activities or clean up degraded sites. Some $15 million per year is needed to adequately oversee oil and gas operations on wildlife refuges.
    • With the recent addition of more than 50 million acres of marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean, the Refuge System faces increased management, coordination, restoration, and law enforcement challenges. These increased responsibilities carry a price tag of between $18 and $35 million annually.
    CARE has urged that Congress boost refuge operations and maintenance funding to $578 million for FY 2011. These funds are needed to provide nature programs to the public, maintain high water quality, complete critical habitat restoration projects, and properly patrol and enforce laws in the Refuge System. Since 2008, Congress has begun to reverse a damaging trend of budget cuts that started in 2003. "We need to maintain this momentum and continue to invest in these special places at a level that recognizes their importance to so many Americans," notes Hirsche.

    February 2010

    Memorial Book Fund

    The Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge invites you to consider donating money to the Memorial Book Fund as a meaningful way to remember a person, group, occasion or milestone.

    Your gift will help the Erie National Wildlife Refuge expand the library of nature and wildlife books available to the public at the Refuge Visitor Contact Station. For more information you can call the Refuge at 814-789-3585.

    Students Invited to Participate in Endangered Species Day Art Contest

    Students from kindergarten through high school are invited to celebrate Endangered Species Day – May 21, 2010 – with original artwork. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Endangered Species Coalition, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art/ University of New Orleans are sponsoring the art contest. Started in 2006 by the United States Congress, Endangered Species Day recognizes the importance of endangered species and educates the public about how to protect them.

    Entries are due March 26. A national panel of highly-acclaimed artists and conservationists will judge the art works. Winners will be chosen in four age categories and one national winner will be selected. The winning artwork will be displayed at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art/ University of New Orleans in May 2010. One national winner will be honored at a reception in Washington, DC.

    National wildlife refuges are home to more than 280 of the nation's 1,311 endangered or threatened species. Fifty-nine refuges were established specifically to protect one or more endangered species. The Endangered Species Coalition is a national network of conservation, scientific, education, religious, sporting, outdoor recreation, humane, business and community groups.

    For more contest information go to www.EndangeredSpeciesDay.org.

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mourns Death of Director Sam Hamilton

    The conservation world lost one of its most dynamic leaders on February 20 when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Sam D. Hamilton, 54, died suddenly of an apparent heart attack while skiing in Colorado following a Service regional leadership meeting, which ended February 19. Hamilton, 54, was a career Fish and Wildlife Service employee whose vision and commitment to wildlife conservation was unmatched. Sam is survived by his wife Becky, his sons Sam Jr. and Clay and a grandson, Davis, all of Atlanta, GA.

    Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on February 20 released the following statement on the passing of Sam Hamilton, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service: “The Interior Department family has suffered a great loss with the passing of Sam Hamilton. Sam was a friend, a visionary, and a professional whose years of service and passionate dedication to his work have left an indelible mark on the lands and wildlife we cherish. His forward-thinking approach to conservation - including his view that we must think beyond boundaries at the landscape-scale – will continue to shape our nation's stewardship for years to come. My heart goes out to Sam's family, friends, and colleagues as we remember a remarkable leader and a compassionate, wise, and eternally optimistic man.

    Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Thomas Strickland released the following statement:

    "We are all saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague Sam Hamilton. A dedicated Fish and Wildlife Service employee for more than 30 years, Sam brought more than just a wealth of experience to the job, he brought courage and outstanding leadership. The Department of the Interior will miss him greatly."

    Bio of Sam Hamilton:

    On September 1, 2009, Sam D. Hamilton was sworn in as the 15th Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the nation's principal federal agency dedicated to the conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats. Hamilton brought to the position more than 30 years of experience with the Service, beginning when he was 15-years-old and working as a Youth Conservation Corps member on the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi. Prior to his appointment as Director, he served as Regional Director of the agency’s Southeast Region in Atlanta, Ga.

    Throughout his career, Hamilton has exhibited outstanding leadership and fostered creative and innovative solutions to the challenges facing wildlife conservation. In the Southeast Region, he supported efforts leading to the establishment of a carbon sequestration program that has helped biologists to restore roughly 80,000 acres of wildlife habitat. Hamilton provided key leadership and oversight to the Interior Department’s restoration work in the Everglades, the nation’s largest ecosystem restoration.

    Hamilton was a strong advocate for the National Wildlife Refuge System, comprised of 551 refuges and encompassing 150 million acres of protected habitat. Throughout his career, he supported the expansion of existing refuges and the addition of new refuges as an essential step in providing for America’s wildlife heritage.

      Earlier in his career, Hamilton served as Assistant Regional Director of Ecological Services in Atlanta and as the Service’s Texas State Administrator in Austin. Hamilton graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1977. 

    Hamilton strongly believed no single entity, whether federal, state, or private, can ensure the sustainability of the nation’s fish and wildlife resources working independently. He worked toward building collaborative partnerships that allow for the development of ideas and solutions that are greater than any one entity can accomplish.

    BirdWise Partnership

    Wild Bird Centers, retail stores across the country, are offering bird seed in bags that promote America’s National Wildlife Refuges as places where birders and birds connect. “Your national wildlife refuges are home to more than 700 species of birds and offer some of the best bird-watching opportunities and facilities throughout the country,” the bags note. Each seed bag directs bird lovers to the Refuge System birding Web site, http://www.fws.gov/refuges/birding/.

    George Petrides, Sr., chairman and founder of the Wild Bird Centers of America, was a member of the Refuge System Birding Team, created to shine a spotlight on the central role of refuges in bird conservation. More than half of all federal lands designated by the American Bird Conservancy as Important Bird Areas are on national wildlife refuges.

    In late 2009, Wild Bird Centers began selling a variety of mixed seed in the new bags, each with individualized artwork by Charley Harper. Both Petrides and the National Wildlife Refuge System look forward to a longstanding partnership to promote the increasingly popular activity of birdwatching. In 2001, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service analysis reported that about 40 million people watch birds from their homes and communities and ad additional 18 million people travel to watch birds.

    A Place of Renewal – And What We Take for Granted

    By Greg Siekaniec
    Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System

    For the past quarter century, Katy Sheehan Morris and Susan Macdonald Bray have kept their friendship fresh and vibrant through their connection with Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri. Sure, Katy was a bridesmaid in Susan’s wedding. And for years, they’ve swapped stories about child rearing and family successes and travails.

    But what’s given them a sense of renewal year after year? A fall weekend of birding, hiking and camping at Swan Lake Refuge, an easy drive from Kansas City. They missed the annual trip the year that Bray got married and for a few years when pregnancies made such travel a little tough. But they haven’t skipped the trip for very many years.

    They camp at Pershing State Park, next door to Swan Lake Refuge, where they have seen coyote pups, armadillos, egrets and white pelicans – including the pelican migration. “For me, this trip is a renewal,” says Bray, who works for the Kansas City Department of Parks and Recreation. “I couldn’t go into winter without hearing the wild call of geese every fall,” says Morris, who trained as a naturalist – as did Bray.

    They discovered Swan Lake Refuge when they led a children’s field trip to the refuge and learned of its wildness and naturalist values. “Thank goodness for the Refuge System and its pockets of nature,” says Morris.

    Typical story? Not really. But more and more, it should be – and it could be.

    The first step for us is to understand that being comfortable and knowledgeable about the natural world isn’t second nature to the millions of youngsters – and their parents – who live in high-density cities. Just consider a recent round of the television game show, Jeopardy, when none of the contestants could identify North America’s tallest bird. At the time, I was with a group of Fish and Wildlife Service employees who blurted the question before that answer was read. We knew, but what does that tell us about America’s natural resource education when three, obviously intelligent individuals were stumped by a “whooping crane” question? It made us all pause.

    Second, we need to find and support more people like Katy and Susan to be mentors to young people, to teach them to camp, hike, fish, hunt, identify birds and be comfortable in nature. Your community may well be filled with people whose passion is the natural world – but they may not know it. As your new year’s resolution, make it your business to bring them into the National Wildlife Refuge System fold. America’s conservation future depends on it.

    I’ll see you in the field.

    To Green Your Garden, Go Native

    How ‘green’ is your garden? Well, now may be the time to order seeds of wildflowers native to your region that will give you low-maintenance blooms next spring and all summer long. Not only will they thrive — they’ll support native birds, insects and other pollinators that depend on familiar, home-grown species for a healthy ecosystem.

    “Native species evolved in the local environment and have developed complex interrelationships with other area plant species as well as fine tuning to local climate and soil conditions,” says Kathleen Blair, an ecologist at Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. Exotic plant species — non-natives, including many commercially available garden flowers — haven’t. That means, she says, “If you plant non-native or exotic species, a whole lot of other local species cannot use them.”

    It’s possible that going native might help save a local ecosystem, or at least parts of one. That’s what motivates Pauline Drobney, a biologist at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa, where the staff is working to restore the globally threatened tallgrass prairie savannah. Each year, says Drobney, staff and volunteers plant up to 250 species of native plants on the refuge.

    Does planting native mean sacrificing flash and drama? No way, says Drobney, who won over a skeptical neighbor by showing him the butterfly milkweed and blazing star in her yard. “It was just knock-your-socks-off color,” she says.

    Some non-natives or exotics have become ecological nightmares, escaping backyards to rampage across entire regions, choking out native species as they spread. Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria, native to Europe) is a prime example. “It’s a nightmare of a plant. It’s now clogging up the wetlands of the East Coast,” says Blair.

    Beyond that, planting an appropriate species will improve your odds of success. Some wildflowers are highly site-specific in terms of rainfall, elevation and soil type.

    Here are just a few examples of some native wildflower favorites by region:

    Great Plains/Prairie: blazing star, cream gentian, fall sunflower, prairie phlox, prairie violet, heath aster, bird’s foot violet. (“Not only does it bloom profusely, but it’s the obligate host food for the rare regal fritillary butterfly,” says Drobney about the last plant species.)
    Southwest: lupin, beard-tongue (or penstemon; a real hummingbird favorite)
    Chesapeake Bay watershed: butterfly weed, Joe-Pye weed (also known as trumpet weed), eastern or willow bluestar
    Southeast: bee balm, black-eyed Susan
    Pacific Northwest: broad-leaf lupine, spreading phlox
    Upper Plains: rigid goldenrod, wild lily
    Northeast: blue flag iris, New England aster

    For reliable information on plants native to your region, consult your local native plant society. Some other good sources are:

    1. Department of Agriculture: http://plants.usda.gov/ or http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/nativegardening/index.shtml, which offers a variety of links and native plant information.
    2. Native Plant Information Network http://www.wildflower.org/ – houses a native plant database and searchable image directory maintained by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
    3. Plant Conservation Alliance http://www.nps.gov/plants/ – contains links to plant guides by region.
    4. U.S. National Arboretum http://www.usna.usda.gov/ – search “native plants”.
    5. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service http://www.fws.gov/ – search “native plants”.

    Duck-Drawing Time

    On your mark . . .get set . . .draw! Youngsters in grades kindergarten-12 have just a little more time to prepare their entries for the 2010 Junior Duck Stamp contest that combines science and art to teach students about waterfowl conservation. The competition is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act enacted by Congress in 1994.

    Participants, grouped in four age categories, compete to create visually compelling and biologically accurate drawings or paintings of any of 46 native species of ducks, geese and swans. Students are encouraged to visit National Wildlife Refuges with their families or environmental education groups to observe or photograph waterfowl for their drawings and paintings.

    The winning national entry is reproduced on stamps sold by the U.S. Post Office and some National Wildlife Refuges. Sales of the $5 stamps help support environmental education programs and provide awards and scholarships for the students, teachers and schools participating in the program.

    Each state or territory first selects winners. The “best in show” from each state or territory contest goes on to compete nationally. National winners will be selected April 23 during ceremonies at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The top three national winners earn cash prizes ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.

    In most states, the submission deadline is March 15; Arizona and Ohio require entries by March 1. For contest information and entry forms, visit: http://www.fws.gov/juniorduck/.

    January 2010

    2010 Northeast Region Friends Workshop

    Three members of the board will be attending the 2010 Northeast Region Friends Workshop. Ron and Char Oswald and Kathleen Palmer will be traveling to the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in West Virginia for this event March 5 – 7.

    The 2010 Northeast Region Friends Workshop is an opportunity for Friends groups from our refuges and fisheries and their staff to network and think strategically about the specific contributions Friends make to their stations. The workshop is also a time to celebrate the accomplishments of Friends, meet new Friends, and share information and ideas among Friends members about the day-to-day responsibilities of maintaining a support group.

    NCTC is one of the world’s premier conservation training facilities, created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for natural resource managers and volunteers. The facility’s buildings resemble the 19th century farm landscape and blend into the rural grounds. This provides a unique and idyllic retreat setting to foster learning. Although not technically a refuge, the scenic campus is home to many species of wildlife. A bald eagle’s nest is visible from many points around the campus, including a number of classrooms. To learn more about NCTC visit http://training.fws.gov.

    Board Officers Elected

    At the January Board of Directors Meeting the Board officers for coming year were elected. The officers will say the same in 2010:

    Richard Eakin, President
    Ron Leberman, Vice President
    Kathleen Palmer, Secretary
    Ron Oswald, Treasurer

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The Friends Win Award At The 2016 French Creek Watershed Cleanup

The Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge team for the 24th Annual French Creek Cleanup won the "Most Weight (non-Corporate) Medium Team Award"...

Our Inaugural Issue of Digital Refuge Update
By Cynthia Martinez
Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System...

The Next Generation to Care for Wildlife

Juan “Tony” Elizondo, a high school teacher in Houston, and Corrin Omowunmi, a Student Conservation Association coordinator at a Philadelphia-area national wildlife refuge, share a passion for environmental awareness, wildlife conservation and connecting young people with nature...