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December 2012





Hunters Help Make Conservation Possible
By Dan Ashe, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our partners have been trying for years to get more people hunting and fishing. And a new survey shows our work is paying off.

The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, conducted every five years, shows that the number of hunters and anglers in 2011 is up 10 percent over 2006.

This is great news, for conservation and for the national economy.

I know that many non-hunters just shake their heads when the strongest conservationist they know turns out to be an avid hunter. But for me, and many hunter-conservationists like me, the two go hand in hand.

Hunters have always been dedicated conservationists.

They supported many early laws to conserve species and set up programs, such as the Federal Duck Stamp and the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, both of which provide money for conservation.

Another example: A group of duck hunters from Alabama persuaded the powers that be to establish Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge in 1964.

The habitat protected by our refuges such as Eufaula not only conserves some of our important wildlife species but also offers some of the nation’s best hunting. And we remain committed to increasing hunting opportunities throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System – wherever hunting is compatible with refuge purposes. We recently opened the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge in Michigan to migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting and big game hunting, while expanding hunting activities at 16 national wildlife refuges in 14 states. Hunting is a key part of our shared national heritage, and I am confident that learning to hunt will grow into a real love for the outdoors. What people love, they protect.

This increase in hunters and anglers reverses decades of declines and offers us a great opportunity to get out the “greatest conservation story never told,” which involves sportsmen and -women and their industries.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, which collects excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear and returns the money to the states for conservation, got its start thanks largely to the support of manufacturers and users of such gear. Imagine! Taxing themselves for conservation.

WSFR, celebrating its 75th anniversary, has provided more than $14 billion for conservation since 1937.

We cannot afford to lose the money and passion hunters bring to conservation … or what they pump into the economies of local communities.

In 2011, hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers spent $145 billion on related gear, trips and other purchases such as licenses, tags and land leasing and ownership.

These wildlife supporters made purchases throughout community economies: at sporting goods stores, guide and outfitter services, gas stations, cafes, hotels and many other enterprises.

These contributions also led to jobs at these same businesses. And this spending generated tax revenue for local economies.

Hunters and anglers have given America a great gift; let’s get out there and enjoy it.




Seven Refuges Acquire Wetland Habitat

Seven national wildlife refuges grew by about 10,640 wetland acres all told when the Migratory Bird Conversation Commission (MBCC) approved almost $11 million in land acquisitions at its final meeting of 2012.

The National Wildlife Refuge System purchases were announced in September by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Of particular note is the commission’s action at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, MT. By approving a boundary expansion of more than 12,000 acres in the largest wetland complex in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the commission is protecting high densities of breeding lesser scaup and breeding trumpeter swans. Of that expansion, about 6,600 acres were acquired.

The habitat purchases and leases were supported by the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund (MBCF), which includes proceeds from the sales of Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, aka Duck Stamps.

Here are the refuge acquisitions:

Red Rock Lakes Refuge, MT – Boundary addition of 12,352 acres, including acquisition of 810 fee acres at $3.6 million and 5,834 lease acres at $11,085, to protect breeding habitat for 21 species of waterfowl.

San Bernard Refuge, TX – Boundary addition and price approval for 1,441 fee acres for $2.59 million, to benefit wintering, migratory and resident waterfowl.

Trinity River Refuge, TX – Boundary addition and price approval for 200 fee acres for $176,200, to protect biologically significant bottomland hardwood forest for waterfowl as part of the East Texas Bottomland Hardwood Initiative.

Montezuma Refuge, NY – 625.39 fee acres for $2.38 million, to increase the refuge’s capacity to support an additional 9,000 migratory waterfowl in spring and more than 18,000 in fall.

Tualatin River Refuge, OR – 23.59 fee acres for $82,500, to support large populations of wintering waterfowl, including tundra swans, mallards, northern pintails, canvasbacks, ring-necked ducks and lesser scaup.

Tulare Basin Wildlife Management Area, CA – 164 easement acres for $309,000, for winter foraging and nesting habitat for waterfowl, including mallards, northern pintails, gadwall, cinnamon teals and northern shovelers.

Waccamaw Refuge, SC – 1,542.83 fee acres for $1.85 million, for habitat consisting of alluvial bottomland hardwoods and a network of oxbow lakes, ephemeral creeks, and tidal lakes and sloughs.

The commission also approved $18.4 million in federal funding to conserve more than 95,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitat in the United States under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).

Since 1929, the MBCC has met several times a year to consider land purchases through the MBCF. Its next meeting is scheduled for March 2013. More information is at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/realty/mbcc.html.

Photo Credit: RedRockLakesCent Valley - The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved acquisition of habitat at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana, and at six other refuges. (USFWS)





Conservation in the City

Of the 24 Conserving the Future recommendations, No. 13 might be the most ground-breaking. It introduced a novel concept: the urban wildlife refuge initiative.

Recommendation 13 has three parts.

First, it mandates defined standards of excellence for the dozens of existing urban national wildlife refuges. Second, it mandates establishment of a framework for creating new urban refuge partnerships. Third, it mandates a new refuge presence in 10 demographically and geographically varied cities by 2015.

The Conserving the Future Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative implementation team – co-chaired by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region deputy regional refuge chief Tom Worthington, Northeast Region regional refuge chief Scott Kahan, and Headquarters visitor services and communications chief Marcia Pradines – is addressing those mandates.

The standards of excellence are a work in progress. Once approved by National Wildlife Refuge System leadership, the standards will articulate best practices related to community engagement; cultivating partnerships; financial resources and leveraging funding; sustainability and leading by example; urban access to refuges; dispelling urban fears and myths about wildlife; making the Service an authentic member of the community that promotes conservation beyond refuges; and more.

“Just like conservation must happen at a landscape level, so must engagement,” says Pradines. “This isn’t about creating new refuges or places, or developing a program on our own. It’s about the Service partnering with community.”

The implementation team has met with more than a dozen of the nation’s leading conservation organizations and with colleagues from other Service programs to discuss a framework for new partnerships. “Without exception, they are all keenly aware of the need to reconnect and restore conservation relevance with the growing urban population,” says Worthington.

A new Refuge System presence in 10 cities, also a work in progress, will “foster a more informed citizenry that actively supports and understands the value of conservation,” says Kahan.

A key component of the refuge urban presence effort, says Pradines, will be “nurturing staff culture to understand how to work in communities that are diverse in generations, wildlife values and ethnicities. We know how to work with people who already value conservation and love wildlife. How do we reach and impact the others without sounding preachy and with effectiveness?”

The implementation team has scheduled a training of staff from existing urban refuges, as well as partners, next fall at the National Conservation Training Center to discuss the urban wildlife refuge initiative.

One topic likely to emerge is exactly how the urban concept fits into the Service mission. The initiative does not call for the establishment of new urban refuges, but it does not dismiss the idea, either.

“We know that the strategic growth of the Refuge System will be guided – very correctly – by biological criteria, criteria that by and large would not put a very high priority on lands or waters in urban settings,” says Worthington. “We also know there are rare and extraordinary circumstances where a refuge in an urban context can have societal and System-wide values that overshadow their strictly biological contributions ... In those rare and exceptional situations, the Service will look favorably at the possibility of establishing a refuge in an urban area.”

That said, Worthington is quick to praise biological successes at existing urban refuges, particularly salt marsh recovery at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Refuge, trout spawning “in the shadow of the Mall of America” at Minnesota Valley Refuge, and the overall ecological benefit of Silvio O. Conte Refuge in New England.

“Urban refuges aren’t just for people,” he notes.

For more information on implementation of Conserving the Future, go to: http://americaswildlife.org/



National Wildlife Refuge Association Announces Photo Contest Winners
Keith Ramos of Alaska Wins Top Prize for Photo Taken at San Bernard NWR, TX

A photo of a young bobcat peering through the foliage at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge in Texas has received top honors in the Refuge Photography Contest, which seeks to raise the visibility of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the world’s largest wildlife conservation program. Taken by Keith Ramos of Galena, Alaska, the photo captures a curious bobcat just released into the wild by a wildlife rehabilitator. Ramos, who serves as Deputy Manager of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Koyukuk/Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge Complex, took the photo when stationed at San Bernard.

“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 David Houghton, 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.”

For his winning photo, Ramos will receive the Southwest Airlines Adventure Package that includes $2,000 and four round trip tickets, valued at $3,600.

“As the Official Airline of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and lead contest sponsor, 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 Marilee McInnis, Senior Manager at Southwest Airlines. “Southwest shares the Refuge Association’s passion for conservation, and we believe this contest is a great way to share the importance of protecting our wildlife.”

Other top winners in this year’s contest were:

  • Second place: Carol Grant of Clearwater, FL, for her photo of two manatees at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), FL.
  • Third-place: Les Zigurski of Scales Mound, IL, for his photo of two bald eagles in the midst of an aerial conflict at the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, IL.
  • Fourth-place: Betsy Kellenberger of Tallahassee, FL, for an image of a yellow warbler perched among late-summer flowers taken at Florida’s St. Marks NWR in the Crawfordville, FL area.
A complete list of prizewinners in this year’s contest and more than 150 images selected for the Finalists Gallery can be found at NWRA’s 2012 photo contest homepage. The contest would not be possible without the tremendous generosity of our sponsors: Southwest Airlines, Eagle Optics, Wild Bird Centers, Orvis, NatureShare and Zenfolio.



Summer Fest Plans Have Started

The coming year will be a challenging one with the hiring of a new manager for Erie NWR and the Friends are being asked to take some of the pressure off the Refuge staff by taking a more active role in the planning and promoting of the 2013 Summer Fest.

The Erie National Wildlife Refuge Summer Fest 2013 will be held Saturday, June 29th from 10:00am until 4:00pm. The theme "Wetlands" was chosen right after the last Fest and we will be finding activities that revolve around that theme. It has been decided that we will continue with the Silent Auction because that has been such a successful fundraiser in the past. The Trash to Treasure contest has been so popular that we are planning to continue that activity as well. We also have plans to bring back bird walks to the Fest and perhaps some other walks or field trips as well if we can find people to lead them.

This would be a great way for members to get more involved in the Friends of ENWR. You don't have to become a member of the board to attend meetings and help with this planning. If you enjoy crafts you can help plan them or just sign up to man the craft booths at Summer Fest. If you enjoy working with children you can help lead a game or, if you are inventive, you may want to take a stab at inventing a new game to go with the theme. Anyone with some knowledge or expertise in ecosystems, biology, habitats, you name it, would be welcome to lead a walk, put on a program or assist with a program. Last year we had students from the high school come and do their senior projects at Summer Fest

Warm bodies will also be needed on the day of Summer Fest. If the idea of being in charge of an activity doesn't appeal to you, all the booths will need assistants, we will need people for set up and clean up, and people for all the other jobs that go into making this kind of event a success.

This event has been well attended in the years that we have been doing it and we don't want to loose that momentum by canceling Summer Fest while a new manager and staff play catch-up in 2013. Please consider contributing to it in any way you can. We can guarantee that you will have fun doing it!





November 2012



Salazar Announces Fee Free Days for 2013

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced dates in 2013 when more than 2,000 national wildlife refuges, national parks, national forests and other federal lands will offer free admittance.

“Our national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests and other public lands offer every American a place to enjoy outdoor recreation, learn about our nation’s history and culture, and restore our souls and spirits by connecting with the natural beauty and wildness of our land,” Salazar said. “By providing free admission, we are putting out an invitation to all Americans to visit and enjoy these extraordinary treasures that belong to all our people.”

The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will waive their entrance fees and the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation will waive their standard amenity fees on September 28 for National Public Lands Day and from November 9 to 11 for Veterans Day weekend.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will also waive entrance fees on January 21 for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and on October 13 during National Wildlife Refuge Week. The National Park Service will also waive entrance fees on January 21 for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, from April 22 to 26 during National Park Week, and on August 25 to celebrate the agency’s 97th birthday.

The Bureau of Land Management will also waive standard amenity fees on January 21 for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The U.S. Forest Service will also waive standard amenity fees on January 21 for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and on June 8 for Get Outdoors Day.

Tourism and outdoor recreation are powerful economic engines in communities across the country. Recreation on federal lands in 2009 provided 440,000 jobs and contributed $55 billion to the economy.

The fee waiver does not cover expanded amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.

Active duty military members and their dependents are eligible for a free annual pass that provides entrance to lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service. The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program also offers a free lifetime pass for people with disabilities, a $10 lifetime senior pass for those who are 62 and older, and a $80 annual pass for the general public.

“America’s great outdoors should be experienced by everyone,” said Salazar. “Our fantastic network of public lands provides world class recreational opportunities, the chance to view abundant wildlife in natural habitats, sites that showcase our nation’s rich and diverse history, and some of the most incredible scenery found anyway. The fee free days will give both first time and repeat visitors a good reason to spend time in these extraordinary places.”



Learn What Conserving the Future Means for You

Refuge Friends who want the most up-to-date information on Conserving the Future implementation have three mid-December Webinars from which to choose. The Webinars will give Friends a chance to learn how to get engaged and provide feedback on draft implementation products.

The Webinars – offered December 11, 15 and 17 -- will be available live and on the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s Friends Web hub:  http://refugefriendsconnect.org/  For more information and for a copy of the PowerPoint presentation to share with others, contact Conserving the Future implementation coordinator Anna Harris by email, anna_harris@fws.gov, or by calling 703-358-2320.

The Webinar schedule is:

Tuesday, December 11, 9 pm Eastern Time Meeting Number: 741 790 412 Meeting Password: nwrs ? To join the online meeting, go to https://mmancusa.webex.com/mmancusa/j.php?ED=194892297&UID=496017202&PW=NODQ2NWZmYjVj&RT=MiMxOA%3D%3D Call-in toll: 1-866-541-4241  Access code: 658 934 3 

Saturday, December 15, 11 a.m. Eastern Time Meeting Number: 747 558 854  Meeting Password: nwrs ? To join the online meeting, go to to https://mmancusa.webex.com/mmancusa/j.php?ED=194892412&UID=496017202&PW=NZjMzODk1MjBi&RT=MiMxOA%3D%3D  Call-in toll: 1-866-541-4241  Access code: 658 934 3 

Monday, December 17, 6 p.m. Eastern Time Meeting Number: 747 819 816  Meeting Password: nwrs ? To join the online meeting, go to to https://mmancusa.webex.com/mmancusa/j.php?ED=194892447&UID=496017202&PW=NZjgwMjllZjlh&RT=MiMxOA%3D%3D  Call-in toll: 1-866-541-4241 Access code: 658 934 3 

For assistance 1. Go to https://mmancusa.webex.com/mmancusa/mc 2. On the left navigation bar, click "Support". 



Annual Meeting Update

On Tuesday, November 13, 2012 the Annual Meeting of the Members was held at the Refuge Headquarters' Building in Guys Mills. We started with a Pot Luck Dinner which, as always, was a feast of great food, desserts and, this year, a yummy hot cider punch.

After dinner Sheldon Kauffman, President of the Friends Board, talked about the accomplishments of the group in the past year and our hopes for the future.

Later, Thomas Roster, Refuge Manager, presented a PowerPoint presentation prepared by Refuge staff reviewing 2012 at the Erie NWR. The coming year will be a challenging one with the hiring of a new manager for Erie NWR and the Friends are being asked to take some of the pressure off by taking a more active role in the planning and promoting of the 2013 Summer Fest.

The 4th item on the agenda was the election of members of the Board of Directors. Douglas Copeland, Sheldon Kauffman, Ron Leberman, Ann Zurasky and Harry Zurasky were all reelected to another 2 year term. No new members were added to the board this year.





October 2012





Free App is a Virtual Butterfly Net on 11 National Wildlife Refuges

With iPhones in hand, visitors to national wildlife refuges in the Chesapeake Bay region can now photograph and share their sightings with a worldwide community of wildlife watchers. The free National Wildlife Refuges Chesapeake Bay app is a new tool for exploring the outdoors and is available for download from the App Store (http://bit.ly/QTS53B).

App users can post photos of the plants and animals they find on refuges and tap into a global network of experts for information about the species. As the postings accumulate, scientists and refuge managers will be able to view the data to see where and when species inhabit specific locations.

The app was developed through a partnership among the Chesapeake Conservancy and National Geographic Society with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It incorporates the popular Project Noah wildlife photo-sharing service.

Project Noah allows users to create “missions” to pursue, and the app includes a mission for 11 national wildlife refuges in the Chesapeake Bay region, the largest estuary in the U.S. The app also includes location, maps, operating hours and guides for these refuges. A user who visits the refuges and posts photos the missions may earn virtual “patches.” There is one for each refuge.

Joel Dunn, executive director of the Chesapeake Conservancy, which developed the idea and gained financial support to build it through a partnership with National Geographic and Project Noah, said, “our goal was to produce a fun and innovative app that allows people to explore the Chesapeake region’s National Wildlife Refuges, so everyone can better understand and appreciate the extraordinary value of these protected areas and our wildlife in the Bay and along our great rivers.”

“The app provides a new interactive experience by encouraging refuge visitors to become modern explorers. By using their smartphones like digital butterfly nets to capture photos of the animals and plants they discover, they chronicle and share their experiences at the refuges, adding their photos to a growing global database used by citizen scientists across the globe,” said Charles Regan, senior vice president for National Geographic Maps.

“The Chesapeake refuge app is a free resource for everyone seeking to learn about the Chesapeake Bay and its national wildlife refuges, but it's more than a great educational tool. It also enables wildlife enthusiasts to share photos and information with biologists and experts from the Fish and Wildlife Service and across the globe, enabling citizen scientists to help us learn more about the kinds and distribution of plants and animals that inhabit refuges in one of the nation's most imperiled watersheds," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. "I can’t think of a better way to get a whole new generation fired up about wildlife than putting this app in a million hands."



New Refuges in West Bring National Number to 560

The National Wildlife Refuge System had a growth spurt as Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the establishment of two new refuges in New Mexico and a new conservation area in Colorado. The expansion brings the number of refuges to 560.

In late September, Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge near Albuquerque and Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area in northern New Mexico were established.

“Today we celebrate two new jewels in the National Wildlife Refuge System – Valle de Oro, an urban oasis for people and wildlife just five miles from downtown Albuquerque, and Rio Mora, which will serve as an anchor for cooperative conservation efforts in the Rio Mora watershed,” Salazar said at the time.

The Valle de Oro Refuge was formally established through the acquisition of 390 acres of a former dairy and hay farm. The site tentatively had been named Middle Rio Grande Refuge. The official name, which means Valley of Gold in Spanish, was selected after a social media campaign solicited suggestions.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intends to work with partners to restore native bosque forest at the refuge, establish recreation and environmental education programs for local residents, and perhaps provide demonstration areas for sustainable agriculture.

Rio Mora Refuge and Conservation Area was established by a Thaw Charitable Trust donation of more than 4,200 acres. The refuge, two hours northeast of Albuquerque, is in a transition zone between the Great Plains and the southern Rocky Mountains. The Mora River flows through the refuge for about five miles in a 250-300-foot deep canyon.

The refuge’s conservation objectives include to protecting and restoring riparian and grassland habitat, reversing erosion and restoring the river’s natural meanders. Species that stand to benefit include long-billed curlew, loggerhead shrike, burrowing owl, mountain plover, Southwestern willow flycatcher, a number of aquatic species, and migratory grassland and woodland birds.

In mid-September, Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area was established in southern Colorado, thanks to a large easement donation in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains by conservationist Louis Bacon.

Bacon, a proponent of landscape and wildlife conservation, donated an easement on nearly 77,000 acres of his 81,400-acre Trinchera Ranch. He previously announced his intention to donate an easement on 90,000-acre Blanca Ranch, bringing the total amount of perpetually protected land to nearly 170,000 acres. When completed, the two easements will be the largest donation ever to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Blanca Ranch easement donation was to be finalized late this year.

“We are too quickly losing important landscapes in this country to development – and I worry that if we do not act to protect them now, future generations will grow up in a profoundly different world. This motivates me and is why I am proud to place Trinchera Ranch, Blanca’s adjoining ranch, into a conservation easement,” said Bacon. “I am also honored to help Secretary Salazar and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service create the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. It is an area widely known for its cultural, geographic, wildlife and habitat resources.”

The new conservation area benefits Rio Grande cutthroat trout, a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act, and the threatened Canada lynx. In addition to 560 refuges, the Refuge System includes 38 wetland management districts.



Participation in Wildlife-Associated Recreation Increases

Participation in wildlife-associated recreation increased in 28 states since 2006, according to the findings of the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation State Overview Report, released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Sept. 12.

The National Survey, conducted since 1955, measures participation in these activities and related spending on trips and equipment across the nation and in individual states. The 2011 National Survey data show that hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers spent $145 billion last year on related gear, trips and other purchases such as licenses, tags and land leasing or ownership.

“Hunting, fishing and wildlife watching are part of our national heritage, and the trip and equipment-related spending of participants’ forms significant support for local economies across the country,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “These survey results are good news for the small businesses and rural communities who depend on wildlife-related tourism, and it shows an encouraging increase in personal investment of citizens in the future of wildlife and wild places.”

Public lands managed by federal and state agencies support much of the fishing, hunting, and wildlife-associated recreation that Americans enjoy. The State Overview, released today provides national survey data on wildlife-related recreation at the state level, which helps state natural resource agencies to plan and provide wildlife-related recreation opportunities.

“The State by State data from the National Survey is where the rubber meets the road for state fish and wildlife agencies,” said Dr. Jonathan Gassett, Commissioner of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “These results help each state set the course for future fish and wildlife conservation and they help quantify the results of investments that each state has made in its wildlife-related recreation programs, especially hunter and angler recruitment and retention programs.”

Highlights from this overview include the following information:

  1. Of the 28 states with increases in the number of wildlife-related recreation participants from 2006 to 2011, the largest percentage increases were seen in Alaska (47 percent) and Louisiana (40 percent).
  2. South Dakota had the highest proportion of state residents who hunted– 21 percent.
  3. Alaska had the highest proportion of state residents who fished– 40 percent.
  4. Vermont had the highest proportion of state residents who wildlife watched– 53 percent. 
Overall, the 2011 Survey found that 38 percent of all Americans 16 years of age and older participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. Participation in recreational fishing increased by 11 percent and hunting was up 9 percent.  This increase reverses a trend over previous Surveys showing a 10% decline in hunting participation between 1996 and 2006.  The 2011 Survey reports a corresponding increase in hunting equipment expenditures, which are up 29 percent from 2006. 

Through landmark conservation laws supported by American sportsmen and women, funds collected by states through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses are combined with federal funds from excise tax on sport weapons and ammunition and on angling equipment to pay for fish and wildlife conservation and associated recreational opportunities. Together, these laws support the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs, first established 75 years ago.  Since then, hunters and anglers have paid more than $11 billion in excise taxes on purchases of firearms, ammunition, archery, fishing and boating equipment toward thousands of conservation projects, wildlife-associated recreational opportunities and access, and sport shooting ranges around the nation.

The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, conducted every five years since 1955, has become one of the most important sources of information on fish and wildlife recreation in the United States. Federal, State, and private organizations use the rigorously-compiled and detailed information to manage wildlife and wildlife-related recreation programs, market products, and forecast trends in participation and economic impacts.

The 2011 report was requested by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Survey Branch of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, and administered by the U.S. Census Bureau.  The Census Bureau conducted detailed interviews from individuals at 48,627 households across the country to obtain samples of sportspersons and wildlife watchers. Information was collected through computer-assisted telephone and in-person interviews.



Seven Refuges Acquire Wetland Habitat

Seven national wildlife refuges grew by about 10,640 wetland acres cumulatively when the Migratory Bird Conversation Commission (MBCC) approved almost $11 million in land acquisitions at its September meeting, which was its final meeting of 2012.

Of particular note is the commission’s action at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, MT. By approving more than 12,000 acres in the largest wetland complex in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the commission is protecting high densities of breeding lesser scaup and breeding trumpeter swans.

The habitat purchases and leases were supported by the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund (MBCF), which includes proceeds from the sales of Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, aka Duck Stamps.

Here are the refuge acquisitions:

  1. Red Rock Lakes Refuge, MT – Boundary addition of 12,352 acres, including 810 fee acres at $3.6 million and 5,834 lease acres at $11,085, to protect breeding habitat for 21 species of waterfowl.
  2. San Bernard Refuge, TX – Boundary addition and price approval for 1,441 fee acres for $2.59 million, to benefit wintering, migratory and resident waterfowl.
  3. Trinity River Refuge, TX – Boundary addition and price approval for 200 fee acres for $176,200, to protect biologically significant bottomland hardwood forest for waterfowl as part of the East Texas Bottomland Hardwood Initiative.
  4. Montezuma Refuge, NY – 625.39 fee acres for $2.38 million, to increase the refuge’s capacity to support an additional 9,000 migratory waterfowl in spring and more than 18,000 in fall.
  5. Tualatin River Refuge, OR – 23.59 fee acres for $82,500, to support large populations of wintering waterfowl, including tundra swans, mallards, northern pintails, canvasbacks, ring-necked ducks and lesser scaup.
  6. Tulare Basin Wildlife Management Area, CA – 164 easement acres for $309,000, for winter foraging and nesting habitat for waterfowl, including mallards, northern pintails, gadwall, cinnamon teals and northern shovelers.
  7. Waccamaw Refuge, SC – 1,542.83 fee acres for $1.85 million, for habitat consisting of alluvial bottomland hardwoods and a network of oxbow lakes, ephemeral creeks, and tidal lakes and sloughs.
The commission also approved $18.4 million in federal funding to conserve more than 95,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitat in the United States under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).

For more information about MBCC, go to http://www.fws.gov/refuges/realty/mbcc.html

Photo: USFWS




one with the hiring of a new manager for Erie NWR and the Friends are being asked to take some of the pressure off by taking a more active role in the planning and promoting of the 2013 Summer Fest.

The 4th item on the agenda was the election of members of the Board of Directors. Douglas Copeland, Sheldon Kauffman, Ron Leberman, Ann Zurasky and Harry Zurasky were all reelected to another 2 year term. No new members were added to the board this year.





October 2012





Free App is a Virtual Butterfly Net on 11 National Wildlife Refuges

With iPhones in hand, visitors to national wildlife refuges in the Chesapeake Bay region can now photograph and share their sightings with a worldwide community of wildlife watchers. The free National Wildlife Refuges Chesapeake Bay app is a new tool for exploring the outdoors and is available for download from the App Store (http://bit.ly/QTS53B).

App users can post photos of the plants and animals they find on refuges and tap into a global network of experts for information about the species. As the postings accumulate, scientists and refuge managers will be able to view the data to see where and when species inhabit specific locations.

The app was developed through a partnership among the Chesapeake Conservancy and National Geographic Society with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It incorporates the popular Project Noah wildlife photo-sharing service.

Project Noah allows users to create “missions” to pursue, and the app includes a mission for 11 national wildlife refuges in the Chesapeake Bay region, the largest estuary in the U.S. The app also includes location, maps, operating hours and guides for these refuges. A user who visits the refuges and posts photos the missions may earn virtual “patches.” There is one for each refuge.

Joel Dunn, executive director of the Chesapeake Conservancy, which developed the idea and gained financial support to build it through a partnership with National Geographic and Project Noah, said, “our goal was to produce a fun and innovative app that allows people to explore the Chesapeake region’s National Wildlife Refuges, so everyone can better understand and appreciate the extraordinary value of these protected areas and our wildlife in the Bay and along our great rivers.”

“The app provides a new interactive experience by encouraging refuge visitors to become modern explorers. By using their smartphones like digital butterfly nets to capture photos of the animals and plants they discover, they chronicle and share their experiences at the refuges, adding their photos to a growing global database used by citizen scientists across the globe,” said Charles Regan, senior vice president for National Geographic Maps.

“The Chesapeake refuge app is a free resource for everyone seeking to learn about the Chesapeake Bay and its national wildlife refuges, but it's more than a great educational tool. It also enables wildlife enthusiasts to share photos and information with biologists and experts from the Fish and Wildlife Service and across the globe, enabling citizen scientists to help us learn more about the kinds and distribution of plants and animals that inhabit refuges in one of the nation's most imperiled watersheds," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. "I can’t think of a better way to get a whole new generation fired up about wildlife than putting this app in a million hands."



New Refuges in West Bring National Number to 560

The National Wildlife Refuge System had a growth spurt as Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the establishment of two new refuges in New Mexico and a new conservation area in Colorado. The expansion brings the number of refuges to 560.

In late September, Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge near Albuquerque and Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area in northern New Mexico were established.

“Today we celebrate two new jewels in the National Wildlife Refuge System – Valle de Oro, an urban oasis for people and wildlife just five miles from downtown Albuquerque, and Rio Mora, which will serve as an anchor for cooperative conservation efforts in the Rio Mora watershed,” Salazar said at the time.

The Valle de Oro Refuge was formally established through the acquisition of 390 acres of a former dairy and hay farm. The site tentatively had been named Middle Rio Grande Refuge. The official name, which means Valley of Gold in Spanish, was selected after a social media campaign solicited suggestions.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intends to work with partners to restore native bosque forest at the refuge, establish recreation and environmental education programs for local residents, and perhaps provide demonstration areas for sustainable agriculture.

Rio Mora Refuge and Conservation Area was established by a Thaw Charitable Trust donation of more than 4,200 acres. The refuge, two hours northeast of Albuquerque, is in a transition zone between the Great Plains and the southern Rocky Mountains. The Mora River flows through the refuge for about five miles in a 250-300-foot deep canyon.

The refuge’s conservation objectives include to protecting and restoring riparian and grassland habitat, reversing erosion and restoring the river’s natural meanders. Species that stand to benefit include long-billed curlew, loggerhead shrike, burrowing owl, mountain plover, Southwestern willow flycatcher, a number of aquatic species, and migratory grassland and woodland birds.

In mid-September, Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area was established in southern Colorado, thanks to a large easement donation in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains by conservationist Louis Bacon.

Bacon, a proponent of landscape and wildlife conservation, donated an easement on nearly 77,000 acres of his 81,400-acre Trinchera Ranch. He previously announced his intention to donate an easement on 90,000-acre Blanca Ranch, bringing the total amount of perpetually protected land to nearly 170,000 acres. When completed, the two easements will be the largest donation ever to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Blanca Ranch easement donation was to be finalized late this year.

“We are too quickly losing important landscapes in this country to development – and I worry that if we do not act to protect them now, future generations will grow up in a profoundly different world. This motivates me and is why I am proud to place Trinchera Ranch, Blanca’s adjoining ranch, into a conservation easement,” said Bacon. “I am also honored to help Secretary Salazar and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service create the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. It is an area widely known for its cultural, geographic, wildlife and habitat resources.”

The new conservation area benefits Rio Grande cutthroat trout, a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act, and the threatened Canada lynx. In addition to 560 refuges, the Refuge System includes 38 wetland management districts.



Participation in Wildlife-Associated Recreation Increases

Participation in wildlife-associated recreation increased in 28 states since 2006, according to the findings of the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation State Overview Report, released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Sept. 12.

The National Survey, conducted since 1955, measures participation in these activities and related spending on trips and equipment across the nation and in individual states. The 2011 National Survey data show that hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers spent $145 billion last year on related gear, trips and other purchases such as licenses, tags and land leasing or ownership.

“Hunting, fishing and wildlife watching are part of our national heritage, and the trip and equipment-related spending of participants’ forms significant support for local economies across the country,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “These survey results are good news for the small businesses and rural communities who depend on wildlife-related tourism, and it shows an encouraging increase in personal investment of citizens in the future of wildlife and wild places.”

Public lands managed by federal and state agencies support much of the fishing, hunting, and wildlife-associated recreation that Americans enjoy. The State Overview, released today provides national survey data on wildlife-related recreation at the state level, which helps state natural resource agencies to plan and provide wildlife-related recreation opportunities.

“The State by State data from the National Survey is where the rubber meets the road for state fish and wildlife agencies,” said Dr. Jonathan Gassett, Commissioner of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “These results help each state set the course for future fish and wildlife conservation and they help quantify the results of investments that each state has made in its wildlife-related recreation programs, especially hunter and angler recruitment and retention programs.”

Highlights from this overview include the following information:

  1. Of the 28 states with increases in the number of wildlife-related recreation participants from 2006 to 2011, the largest percentage increases were seen in Alaska (47 percent) and Louisiana (40 percent).
  2. South Dakota had the highest proportion of state residents who hunted– 21 percent.
  3. Alaska had the highest proportion of state residents who fished– 40 percent.
  4. Vermont had the highest proportion of state residents who wildlife watched– 53 percent. 
Overall, the 2011 Survey found that 38 percent of all Americans 16 years of age and older participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. Participation in recreational fishing increased by 11 percent and hunting was up 9 percent.  This increase reverses a trend over previous Surveys showing a 10% decline in hunting participation between 1996 and 2006.  The 2011 Survey reports a corresponding increase in hunting equipment expenditures, which are up 29 percent from 2006. 

Through landmark conservation laws supported by American sportsmen and women, funds collected by states through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses are combined with federal funds from excise tax on sport weapons and ammunition and on angling equipment to pay for fish and wildlife conservation and associated recreational opportunities. Together, these laws support the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs, first established 75 years ago.  Since then, hunters and anglers have paid more than $11 billion in excise taxes on purchases of firearms, ammunition, archery, fishing and boating equipment toward thousands of conservation projects, wildlife-associated recreational opportunities and access, and sport shooting ranges around the nation.

The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, conducted every five years since 1955, has become one of the most important sources of information on fish and wildlife recreation in the United States. Federal, State, and private organizations use the rigorously-compiled and detailed information to manage wildlife and wildlife-related recreation programs, market products, and forecast trends in participation and economic impacts.

The 2011 report was requested by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Survey Branch of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, and administered by the U.S. Census Bureau.  The Census Bureau conducted detailed interviews from individuals at 48,627 households across the country to obtain samples of sportspersons and wildlife watchers. Information was collected through computer-assisted telephone and in-person interviews.



Seven Refuges Acquire Wetland Habitat

Seven national wildlife refuges grew by about 10,640 wetland acres cumulatively when the Migratory Bird Conversation Commission (MBCC) approved almost $11 million in land acquisitions at its September meeting, which was its final meeting of 2012.

Of particular note is the commission’s action at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, MT. By approving more than 12,000 acres in the largest wetland complex in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the commission is protecting high densities of breeding lesser scaup and breeding trumpeter swans.

The habitat purchases and leases were supported by the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund (MBCF), which includes proceeds from the sales of Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, aka Duck Stamps.

Here are the refuge acquisitions:

  1. Red Rock Lakes Refuge, MT – Boundary addition of 12,352 acres, including 810 fee acres at $3.6 million and 5,834 lease acres at $11,085, to protect breeding habitat for 21 species of waterfowl.
  2. San Bernard Refuge, TX – Boundary addition and price approval for 1,441 fee acres for $2.59 million, to benefit wintering, migratory and resident waterfowl.
  3. Trinity River Refuge, TX – Boundary addition and price approval for 200 fee acres for $176,200, to protect biologically significant bottomland hardwood forest for waterfowl as part of the East Texas Bottomland Hardwood Initiative.
  4. Montezuma Refuge, NY – 625.39 fee acres for $2.38 million, to increase the refuge’s capacity to support an additional 9,000 migratory waterfowl in spring and more than 18,000 in fall.
  5. Tualatin River Refuge, OR – 23.59 fee acres for $82,500, to support large populations of wintering waterfowl, including tundra swans, mallards, northern pintails, canvasbacks, ring-necked ducks and lesser scaup.
  6. Tulare Basin Wildlife Management Area, CA – 164 easement acres for $309,000, for winter foraging and nesting habitat for waterfowl, including mallards, northern pintails, gadwall, cinnamon teals and northern shovelers.
  7. Waccamaw Refuge, SC – 1,542.83 fee acres for $1.85 million, for habitat consisting of alluvial bottomland hardwoods and a network of oxbow lakes, ephemeral creeks, and tidal lakes and sloughs.
The commission also approved $18.4 million in federal funding to conserve more than 95,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitat in the United States under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).

For more information about MBCC, go to http://www.fws.gov/refuges/realty/mbcc.html

Photo: USFWS





September 2012



Visit Your National Wildlife Refuges: October 14-20, 2012

Treat yourself with a visit to a national wildlife refuge during National Wildlife Refuge Week, from October 14-20. Celebrate America’s wildlife heritage, and see what refuges are doing to conserve it.

“National wildlife refuges play a crucial role in conserving America’s wildlife legacy,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Refuges also play important roles in human communities. By providing healthy habitats for wildlife, refuges improve the air we breathe and the water we drink, improve soil quality and give protection against flooding in flood-prone areas. Jobs and businesses in local communities rely on refuges – and the visitors they attract. Refuges offer glorious and protected places to hunt, fish, hike and share the outdoors with a new generation.”

Visitors to refuges like what they find there, according to a study this year by the U.S. Geological Survey. About 90 percent of the survey’s 10,000 adult participants reported satisfaction with refuge recreation, information and education, public service and conservation. “Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land, the plants, and the wildlife,” offered one respondent. “Visiting a refuge is truly a spiritual experience.”

Among the most popular activities for 45 million refuge visitors last year were wildlife viewing, bird watching, photography, hiking and auto-tour-route driving.

Since Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has become the nation’s premier habitat conservation network, encompassing 150 million acres in 556 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.

National wildlife refuges also offer world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and wildlife observation along 2,500 miles of land and water trails to photography and environmental education.

Check the special events calendar for Refuge Week events in your community. Follow news about the Refuge System online at: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/ Join the conversation about wildlife refuges at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/USFWSRefuges.



Owl Prowl Planned For October

What is an Owl Prowl? You prowl the woods after dark hoping to hear the call of an owl of course!

In celebration of National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 14-20th, the Friends of the Erie National Wildlife Refuge will be hosting an Owl Prowl on Saturday, October 27th at 7:00pm. We will be meeting at Refuge Headquarters Building near Guys Mills for an educational program on owls and then we will venture out into the woods. As we prowl the woods on the Refuge we will be using recordings of owl calls to try to get a response from these nocturnal birds. If we are lucky we may hear from a Great Horned or Barred Owl, the most common species of owls known to nest on the Erie National Wildlife Refuge.

The size of the group will be limited so pre-registration is a must. Call the Refuge at 814-789-3585 to reserve your spot on the Owl Prowl. Please dress for the weather, wear suitable footwear for hiking in the woods and bring a flashlight.

Photo Credit: Mark Musselman/USFWS



Annual Meeting Of The Members

The date has been set for this years Annual Meeting. It will be held Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at the Refuge Headquarters' Building in Guys Mills. We will be getting together at 6:00pm for a Pot Luck Dinner. Please bring a dish to share, everything else will be provided. Come join us for an evening of good food and fellowship with other Friends members and the Refuge staff.

After dinner we will learn about the year in review on the Erie NWR. Later the very important business of electing members to the Board of Directors will take place. Remember these people are representing you as a member of the Friends of ENWR. Up for reelection this year are Douglas Copeland, Sheldon Kauffman, Ron Leberman, Jason Wentz, Ann Zurasky and Harry Zurasky. We will also be accepting any nominations for new members. Have a say in who is on your Board.



The National Wildlife Refuge System: An Overview

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the nation’s premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife and plants. Since President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida’s Pelican Island as the first national wildlife refuge in 1903, the Refuge System has grown to encompass more than 150 million acres, 557 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts.

Protecting species that range from half-ounce warblers to one-ton bison, the National Wildlife Refuge System conserves the priceless gift of a wild America. It also offers some of the nation’s finest outdoor recreation:

  1. hunting (http://www.fws.gov/refuges/hunting/)
  2. fishing (http://www.fws.gov/refuges/fishingguide/)
  3. birding (http://www.fws.gov/refuges/birding/birdingonRefuges.html),
  4. wildlife observation (http://www.fws.gov/refuges/trails/index.cfm),
  5. photography
  6. environmental education and interpretation.
There is at least one wildlife refuge in every state and U.S. territory, and one within an hour’s drive of most major cities — offering people a welcoming, safe and accessible place to nourish their spirits and reconnect with the land. The Refuge System manages nearly 77 million acres in Alaska and about 54 million acres in the Pacific, including four national marine monuments that protect some of the world’s most rare coral.

More than 20 million acres within the Refuge System are designated wilderness. There are about 1,088 miles of National Wild and Scenic Rivers (http://www.rivers.gov/) within the Refuge System, as well as more than 250 Important Bird Areas (http://web4.audubon.org/bird/iba/), as designated by the National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy — more than are claimed by any other federal land management agency. Refuges are also home to 19 Wetlands of International Importance, identified under the Ramsar Convention (http://www.ramsar.org/), an international environmental treaty signed in 1971.

Refuges also protect and showcase a host of cultural treasures. Cultural resources (http://www.fws.gov/historicPreservation/) include more than 18,000 archeological sites and 2,100 historic structures, 900 paleontological sites and 90 properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

More than 45 million people visit national wildlife refuges each year. Visitors and local communities recognize refuges as national treasures:
  1. Wildlife refuges are home to more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species and more than 200 species of fish.
  2. Sixty-three refuges have been established with a primary purpose of conserving threatened or endangered species.
  3. About 280 of the approximately 1,300 federally-listed threatened or endangered species in the U.S. are found on units of the Refuge System. Learn more about threatened and endangered species (http://www.fws.gov/endangered/) and on which refuges they can be found.
For more information and to find a national wildlife refuge near you, go to: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/ Follow the National Wildlife Refuge System on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/USFWSRefuges and Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/USFWSRefuges.





August 2012



Farewell Our Friend

Last week a group of us gathered to celebrate the retirement of Patty Nagel, Deputy Refuge Manager of Erie National Wildlife Refuge. This was a bittersweet moment because while we are happy for her as Patty starts this new phase in her life we will miss her greatly. Both at the Refuge and at our board meetings and activities.

Patty kick started our Friends group back in 2005 when she advertised an invitation for people interested in the Erie NWR to attend a meeting. That meeting brought us together for the first time and the "rest is history" as they say.

Patty also had the idea for a community celebration eventually called the Guys Mills Heritage Fest and was instrumental in bringing the village together to put on this annual event for as long as it lasted. Today's Summer Fest at the Erie NWR is an offshoot of that Heritage Fest.

These are just examples of Patty's many contributions to the Refuge, the village of Guys Mills, and of course, the Friends of ENWR. A couple weeks before the party Patty was asked if she had anything she wanted to say to our membership. The following is her letter to you.

As I pack up to move on to the next chapter of my life and career, I'm not just packing up the things of my office. I'll be taking along cherished memories, new insights and tools of the trade. It's been my pleasure to watch the Friends of Erie NWR develop and grow; to share in the common goal of doing the right things for the refuge and for wildlife with a great group of people. Many thanks for the support, the memories, the hard work, for being Friends of the refuge, and for being friends of mine.

Many blessing to all of you, Patty



Thomas Roster, Refuge Manager (located at Iroquois NWR) presenting a certificate to Patty at the recent retirement party.



Goodbye To A Good Friend

Bertie Tullis announced her resignation from the Friends of ENWR’s Board of Directors at a recent meeting. She cited moving away from the area as her reason for leaving. Bertie was part of the group that first started the Friends of EMWR and has been on the board from the beginning. She brought her great sense of humor to every meeting as well as being a great asset to the group. Bertie will be sorely missed. Goodbye and good luck to a good Friend.



A Trip To The Enchanted Forest

A few members of the Friends group are planning to make a trip to the Enchanted Forest hosted by the Audubon Center & Sanctuary, Jamestown Audubon Society in Jamestown NY. Which is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from the ENWR Headquarters. The trip would take place on Saturday, October 6 and the cost is $10.00 for an adult and $5.00 for children 4-12. For more information visit their web site at: http://audubonenchantedforest.wordpress.com/

Paid reservations are required and the event sells out each year so if you are interested in attending please contact Linda Anderson at 814-827-3755 or la4clay@hotmail.com as soon as possible.

It sounds like a fun day and rumor says that we may get to see Patty and Bertie too!



Birding in the Refuge System

From bald eagles and blue-winged teals to sandhill cranes and puffins, hundreds of birds show their colors and their intriguing habits on national wildlife refuges. Now, the Refuge System Web site has new pages to encourage more visitors to bring their love of birds to wildlife refuges.

At fws.gov/refuges/birding, visitors can find special events and birding festivals, activities for families and stories about the groundbreaking work refuges do to protect birds and their habitat. A section on backyard birding identifies food preferences for wild birds in eastern and western North America. There are links to citizen science projects and to Bird Tracker results, which show current bird sightings at refuges. A “for the pros” section provides a checklist for refuges and Friends groups that want to improve the birding experience for visitors.

Photo: The new birding pages on the Refuge System Web site include conservation stories about the Nihoa millerbird, the whimbrel and this Kirkland’s warbler. (Photo by USFWS)



Conserving the Future Teams Analyze Survey Results

Taking the pulse of the Refuge System, several Conserving the Future implementation teams distributed and analyzed survey results, while others met to move strategies and documents to the draft stage for the public to see this fall.

The Community Partnerships implementation team, the first one to survey Refuge System employees, found that 99 percent of responding refuges used volunteers; 57 percent had at least one community partnership; and 89 percent thought a Friends organization was either critical or could be helpful in achieving refuge goals and objectives.

Among other findings from the Community Partnerships survey:

  1. 51 percent rated them very self-sufficient or very effective.
  2. 61 percent of respondents rated individual and group volunteers as having a broad spectrum of activity in support of various refuge programs, as well as being very effective.
  3. About 20 percent of respondents reported that their Friends organization did not have a formal written agreement; a similar proportion reported that Friends organizations had a narrow focus and often required substantial assistance from the refuge staff.
When asked to identify the top challenges facing Friends organizations, respondents most often selected: too few active board members; board members facing burnout; lack of active and engaged members; trouble finding new board members; and a small total number of members.

The overwhelming challenge for refuges is the time it takes to manage Friends, volunteers and community partnerships. Refuge managers reported they lack enough staff to take advantage of the opportunities offered by these groups and individuals. At the same time, lack of staff or time to train and supervise volunteers is the biggest challenge for those who have volunteer programs.

The Community Partnerships team used those findings as it assembled the outline for a handbook to guide Service staff in developing relationships with volunteers, Friends and community partners. The outline is available at
http://AmericasWildlife.org/.

On another front, three Conserving the Future implementation teams met in August to complete documents and strategies in communications, strategic growth of the Refuge System and planning. The Strategic Growth team met as it finished an assessment of the Refuge System’s land protection efforts over its 109-year history. That assessment will be presented to the Refuge System Leadership Team – which includes the eight regional refuge chiefs – in late October.

The Communications implementation team met to draft a strategic communications plan and messages. A liaison from the Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative implementation team took part as the two teams found areas of collaboration.

The Planning implementation team is analyzing survey responses as it assembles lessons learned from the past 15 years of Refuge System experience in writing comprehensive conservation plans (CCPs) and associated step-down plans. The team met to discuss a draft report on the future of planning. The team is awaiting a report from 24 graduate students at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, who examined the 180 CCPs published from 2005 to 2011.

Follow the progress of Conserving the Future implementation teams at http://AmericasWildlife.org/.



Dollars for Ducks
By Dan Ashe, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

America’s Duck Factory is in trouble.

Fortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners are addressing the problem.

A combination of economics and technology is threatening the Prairie Pothole Region, the vast swath of the northern Plains that is home to dozens of national wildlife refuges and is the nation’s prime duck habitat.

The Prairie Pothole Region, which extends from central Iowa, northwest through Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana into Canada, produces 50 percent of the continent’s waterfowl in an average year and up to 70 percent when water and grass are particularly abundant.

However, with the price for food and other agricultural products rising and technology making the conversion of land to agricultural use easier than ever, farmers there are rapidly plowing under grasslands to plant crops. The trend is expected to continue as human population grows and the use of ethanol as fuel increases. Because the price of corn is high, the Department of Agriculture estimates that farmers will plant more of it by acreage in 2012 than at any point since 1937.

This loss of land – combined with the effects of climate change in recent years – has devastated grassland birds. They are among the fastest-declining species. With only about two percent of the nation’s once-vast tallgrass prairie remaining today, acquiring and protecting what’s left is vitally important.

That is why I am so happy that the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund is moving conservation dollars to the Prairie Pothole Region.

This increased allocation means that the Service will be able to use about $30 million this year to put conservation easements in place on tens of thousands of additional acres, helping to stem the loss of these important habitats.

Migratory Bird Conservation Fund money for these acquisitions – either through fee title acquisition or easement – comes largely from Duck Stamp revenue. Since 1934, Duck Stamp sales have raised more than $800 million for the fund to acquire wetlands for ducks, geese and other wildlife, including hundreds of thousands of acres in the Prairie Potholes.

To enable the conservation of even more acres, we are working with Congress and our partners to increase the price of the Duck Stamp, which has not changed since 1991. The Obama administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget request proposes to raise the price to $25 from $15.

All of this effort is building on the success of the Service’s Small Wetlands Program. Created more than 50 years ago, that program uses Duck Stamp revenue to permanently protect waterfowl production areas, nearly 3 million acres so far, most in the Prairie Potholes.

I am confident this renewed attention to wetland and grassland acquisition – in concert with the newly established Dakota Grassland Conservation Area – will protect breeding pairs and keep the waterfowl assembly lines humming on the floor of America’s Duck Factory.





July 2012



2012 Summer Fest

The 2012 Summer Fest at the Erie National Wildlife Refuge was a success again this year with 375 visitors attending. Kids turned in 177 passports for yummy prizes... Chocolate insects! To complete their passports, children of all ages had a great time making toad houses and pom pom animals, playing Life Cycles and Small Creatures Trivia games and learning about honey bees, butterflies, frogs and snakes. As always the live animal display was a favorite. This year the display featured snakes and turtles.

Our mascot this year was a very large, but friendly honey bee. Kids enjoyed getting their pictures taken with this social insect.

Other attractions this year included the Trash to Treasure Contest entries. It is always interesting to see the imagination, ingenuity and craftsmanship that go into these projects. The Silent Auction has turned into a successful fundraiser for the Friends group. This year's auction featured some very nice artwork as well as some practical and just plain fun items.

A big thank you goes out to all the Friends of ENWR members that helped out that day. Both with set up and manning stations. The Fest wouldn't be possible without these volunteers!



20th Annual French Creek Cleanup

The Friends of Erie National Wildlife Refuge would once again like to form a group to participate in the Cleanup described below. Our group cleans along creeks on Refuge property which are in the French Creek watershed. If you are interested in joining us this year, please let us know as soon as possible. We will need your name, T-shirt size and whether or not you plan to attend the picnic to complete the reservation form. Contact us at info@friendsofenwr.org.

The French Creek Valley Conservancy will host its 20th annual French Creek Cleanup on Saturday, September 8th beginning at 9:00 AM with a weigh-in and picnic reception at the Sprague Farm and Brew Works in Venango from Noon-6:00 p.m. All items must be brought in and weighed by 4:00 p.m. Cash prizes will be awarded, including $1,000 to the educational institution with the most participants and $500 each for the most trash by weight, the most unusual item, and for the community group with the most participants. The picnic will feature live music, food, drinks, and fun.



BatsLIVE:
A Distance Learning Adventure

While many people live in fear of or even hate bats they are really beneficial creatures vital to healthy ecosystems and human economies worldwide. By eating night-flying insects such as mosquitoes, bats destroy large amounts of agricultural pests and reduce the need for chemical pesticides.

Bats are among the least studied and most misunderstood of animals. Because of myths, misinformation, and lack of scientific knowledge and understanding their colonies and habitats are being destroyed. Sometimes inadvertently but sometimes intentionally as well. The devastating White-nose Syndrome is also causing bat populations to decline all over North America. Natural ecosystems and human economies face far-reaching consequences from the loss of bats. Knowledge is the key to their conservation and protection.

BatsLIVE: A Distance Learning Adventure is an exciting, free education program for children in the 4-8th grades and their educators, that will bring bat conservation to life. At their web site, http://batslive.pwnet.org, you can watch webcasts, participate in web seminars, or visit their resource center to learn how to build a bat house, plant a bat garden and more.



Making Our Presence on This Good Planet Sustainable
By Jim Kurth, Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System

This spring, I had the honor of speaking at the commencement of my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Here is some of what I told the graduates:

I want to start with a story about a trip to one of my favorite places – the Firth River Valley in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Compared to the razor-edged peaks in the heart of the Brooks Range, the Firth River Valley is handsome at best. Her hills roll more gently; a brushy ruggedness belies the peaceful nature of the place.

We were walking along the edge of the river, slipping in and out of the willows and onto gravel bars as the river laughed at our stumbling. Large piles of droppings chocked full of bright red berries reminded us we shared this land with grizzly bears. Shed moose antlers occasionally marked our way. A bird flew low along the horizon to the south. Someone quickly identified it as a hawk owl.

I had read a report of a biological reconnaissance of the Firth that had taken place some 15 years earlier. The report noted that a hawk owl was found nesting in nearly the exact location we were exploring. I thought that my hawk owl could be the grandson or great-grand daughter of that bird seen 15 years earlier.

Had hawk owl lived here when Columbus discovered a new world? No doubt about it. Had hawk owl seen the scimitar cat and the short-faced bear? Did hawk owl hear the thunder of the mastodon? I didn’t know.

Hawk owl had connected me to the landscape in a way that both recalls and predicts our evolutionary destiny. A sense of our primeval past had merged with a consideration of what lies ahead for our species and our planet – and for hawk owl.

I tell this story today because, in this, another timeless moment, we also reflect on the past and look to the future.

While the paths you are choosing differ, each and every one can be approached with an attitude of humble service. Consider what you want to do, not what you want to be; what you want to give, not what you want to get. It is through the nature of your service rather than your choice of discipline that you will find happiness and fulfillment.

My career and life’s work have been about conserving the nature of America, her wild places and wildlife. The foundation for that work was laid during my years here.

I felt great joy and excitement exploring the wild places of Wisconsin. I remember seeing my first bald eagle at Big Sand Lake near Phelps, hearing the bugling call of sandhill cranes at Necedah, watching prairie chickens on their booming grounds at Buena Vista. That sense of place kindles a desire to be thoughtful stewards of the land and water and the wild creatures that live therein.

I find it astonishing that even my field, the conservation of America’s natural resources, is controversial and divisive. There is nothing more conservative than the conservative use of our natural resources, nothing more progressive than building a sustainable future for our nation and our planet. They are the same thing. The new greatest generation must build bridges not walls. I hope you are that new generation.

I hope the university will, in the year 2046, ask one of you to ascend this stage and address the graduating class. I hope you will report that you not only kept our world free, but that you made our presence on this good planet sustainable, that you kept it livable for our species – and for hawk owl. Tell them how you did it through your hard work and your humble service, your innovation and thoughtful stewardship, through your fearlessness.



Choosing the Best Path for Conservation
By Dan Ashe, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

I hear much the same thing everywhere I go: No matter how dedicated our employees are – and they are some of the most passionate and professional people I have ever worked with – they are very over-extended. And they are struggling against enormous conservation challenges – climate change, invasive species and a growing human population that is fueling competition between wildlife and people for water, land, food and space to live.

We simply can’t address these enormous conservation challenges with the tools of the past.

Recognizing this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2006 endorsed strategic habitat conservation (SHC) as the Service’s management framework for making decisions about where and how to deliver conservation efficiently with our partners to ensure sustainable wildlife populations in the face of 21st century challenges.

As we all know, however, the sheer number of species for which the Service and states are responsible makes designing and conserving landscape-scale habitats impractical on a species-by-species basis.

Even with an unlimited budget, we’d run ourselves ragged. I know that working harder isn’t the answer. We are already working as hard as we can.

What we need to do is work smarter, and put our efforts and resources where they will do the most good.

That is where surrogate species selection comes in.

“Surrogate species” is a commonly used scientific term for system-based conservation planning that uses a species as an indicator of landscape habitat and system conditions. Through such a planning process, the Service will work with partners through a science-based process to identify a species or other conservation planning targets that can best represent the landscape conditions and habitat needs of larger groups of species.

SHC starts with robust biological planning, and surrogate species selection is a practical first step to answer the questions of planning for what and how many.

We have developed draft technical guidance helps answer some of these questions. As an agency, we will be collectively refining and improving the draft guidance and learning how to apply the species selection process in the next several months.

We are planning conversations between our employees and Service leadership, regional workshops and other opportunities for Service members to ask questions and make their ideas known.

It will not be easy. We have a tough challenge at a time when our budget will remain flat at best, and in real dollars will continue to decline. Some of these changes and the challenges can be overwhelming, and, as we all know, change is rarely easy.

But these days I am reminded of what anthropologist Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

We are that small group of committed citizens ready to make a difference for fish, wildlife and plants. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.





June 2012



June Board Meeting Canceled

The June Friends of ENWR Board of Directors meeting has been canceled. The next meeting will take place July 16, 2012 at 6:30pm. As always, all Friends members and other interested persons are invited to attend.



FWS Endangered Species Interactive Map

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program has launched a new, web-based interactive map with information about endangered species success in every state: stories of species making strides towards recovery, audio interviews and podcasts with Service biologists about on-the-ground endangered species conservation, and videos that highlight the Service's partners. http://www.fws.gov/endangered/



Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp

A new Friends group has been launched - the Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp.

You can find out more about them, their mission, how to join and engage in growing the Stamp on the Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp website: www.friendsofthestamp.org

They aren't like any other refuge Friends group you may be familiar with. Instead of being associated with one NWR, or refuge complex, or even WMD, we work on behalf of the Stamp nationally and throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp group has defined its role as the promotion, preservation, sales, and better understanding of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (commonly called the Duck Stamp). The organization fosters an appreciation of how the funds collected through sale of the Stamp are deposited into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund building our nation's magnificent National Wildlife Refuge System. We highlight the conservation of habitat and the many wildlife species that benefit from Stamp sales.

The annual Stamp is available at refuge offices and nearly all post offices. Of the $15 cost, 98% ($14.70) goes directly to new habitat or costs associated with acquisition, of wetland and critically important adjacent upland habitats on a national PRIORITY BASIS.

You can also "friend" them on Facebook.





May 2012



FrogWatch USA

FrogWatch USA was just added to our "Citizen Science" page. The program is sponsored by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).

FrogWatch USA is AZA’s flagship citizen science program that allows individuals and families to learn about the wetlands in their communities and help conserve amphibians by reporting the calls of local frogs and toads. For over ten years, volunteers have been trained to enter their FrogWatch USA information and ongoing analyses of these data have been used to help develop practical strategies for the conservation of these important species.

To learn more visit FrogWatch USA.



Effects of Climate Change on Wildlife and Habitat Concern Most Visitors to National Wildlife Refuges

Visitors to national wildlife refuges are concerned about the impact of climate change on America’s fish, wildlife and plants – as well as the habitat that supports them, a new survey just released by the U..S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows. The survey also shows strong support for efforts to help native species adapt to changing climate conditions, such as those now being implemented by the Service and its partners.

Seventy-one percent of the more than 10,000 visitors to national wildlife refuges who took part in the survey – conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2010 and 2011 – believe that climate change poses a serious threat to wildlife and wildlife habitat. About 74 percent of the same respondents agree that addressing climate change effects on wildlife and wildlife habitats will benefit future generations.

"The results of this survey underscore the Service’s responsibility – entrusted to us by the American people – to ensure that we use the best science to understand and anticipate the impacts of a changing climate in order to safeguard fish, wildlife and plants and the important benefits and services they provide,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “We recognize the serious threats that climate change and other environmental stressors pose to wildlife, and we’re working with our partners to address these immense challenges using the latest science-driven approaches.”

Significant climate-related impacts on fish and wildlife have already been observed by scientists across North America. These impacts include dramatic shifts in the range of dozens of species and altered precipitation patterns, resulting in increased flooding in some areas and drought and water scarcity in others. In addition, flowers are blooming earlier in the spring, while lakes are freezing later in the fall. These shifts have disrupted the migration patterns of birds, as well as the food chain on which they and many other species depend.

Ashe noted that the Service’s statutory authorities do not give the agency the ability or responsibility to regulate the causative factors of climate change. However, those authorities do require the Service to work with the conservation community to anticipate and manage for the impacts of climate change on fish and wildlife resources – as the agency is required to address any other factor affecting the long-term health and abundance of these resources.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is working with its partners to address the impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife and plants and the communities that depend on them. These efforts include:

  1. As directed by Congress, leading development of a National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy designed to guide government-wide wildlife adaptation partnerships over the next 50 to100 years.
  2. Developing an innovative carbon sequestration program in the Lower Mississippi Valley in partnership with the Conservation Fund, American Electric Power Company, and Entergy Inc., that is also restoring native habitats to bolster populations of wildlife and migratory birds. The project has added more than 40,000 acres of habitat to the National Wildlife Refuge System and reforested more than 80,000 acres, sequestering 30 million metric tons of carbon over the project’s 70-year lifetime.
  3. Helping to create a network of locally-driven, solution-oriented Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC) that will allow federal, state and local partners to develop shared science capacity to inform conservation actions that help priority species and habitats withstand the impacts of climate change.
“As we look to the future, the Refuge System will need to prioritize land restoration to effectively sequester carbon and protect wildlife,” said Refuge System Chief Jim Kurth. “That means targeted restoration to bring altered landscapes into balance and to protect habitats that support viable populations of wildlife. Most importantly, we have to work with other government agencies, non-profit organizations and private landowners to face the challenge of climate change.”

Other survey results show that more than half of the refuge visitors surveyed indicated a high level of both interest and personal involvement in climate issues. More than two-thirds of respondents (69 percent) agreed that addressing climate change impacts could “improve our quality of life.” Nearly half of visitors surveyed (46 percent) expressed interest in learning from refuges what they could do to help address the effects of climate change on wildlife and habitat.

Economic considerations factored into visitors’ assessments of climate change impacts. More than two-thirds (71 percent) agreed that “it is important to consider the economic costs and benefits to local communities when addressing climate change effects on fish, wildlife and habitats.”

USGS social scientist Natalie Sexton was the lead researcher on the report. The USGS designed, conducted, analyzed and reported on the peer-reviewed survey. The survey is available here.



Their Moms Instilled a Love of Nature and Inspired Their Careers
Some National Wildlife Refuge Managers Say Seed Was Planted Early

Add this to the long list of things we owe to our moms: a love for conservation.

Many careerists in the National Wildlife Refuge System and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service credit their mothers for sparking a lifelong interest in nature.

Whether they worked in the home or out seems not to have mattered - no more than whether they raised their kids alone, raised them in the city or country, or used fancy tools or dime-store trinkets to bring nature closer. What mattered was that they shared their obvious joy in nature, say those paying tribute.

“My mom absolutely 100 percent is responsible for my interest in conservation!” says Erin Holmes, manager of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. “It is one of my favorite things to tell people...my memories of being a little girl with my mom out in the outdoors and how that led to where I am today.”

A single mom, Karen Maier took Holmes and her sister camping, fishing and hiking in remote, exotic places. She’d pile both girls into the car at four in morning and wake them up when they were close to their destination. “One of my fondest memories,” says Holmes, “is the time, right after I saw ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ she woke us up and right there was Devils Tower,” the otherworldly Wyoming monolith that served as an alien landing pad in the movie.

“My love of the outdoors came from moments like that,” says Holmes. “She instilled a sense of wonder in me, and a sense of the moment, to appreciate what is right in front of us, to want to protect that. She does that to this day.”

Molly Stoddard, who introduces tens of thousands of youngsters to nature each year as an instructional systems specialist at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, a Service facility in Fergus Falls, Minn., likewise credits her mom, Ann Nordstrom, for her career path.

“The first way my mom influenced me in my career choice was her repeated mantra: ‘Go outside and play!’ So I was blessed with plenty of unstructured, unsupervised play time outdoors. I collected rocks, inchworms, earthworms, fireflies; played with roly polies, watched ants in the sidewalk cracks, and ran freely around from yard to yard” in her Chicago suburb.

From the backyard bird feeders her mom made out of milk jugs and plastic soda bottles, Stoddard learned to recognize common redpolls and pine siskins. That made her curious about other birds. “So my mom and I explored nature areas and went ‘swamp tromping.’ Thanks to her, I aced my high school ecology class.”

Jane Griess’s mom, Margaret, found other ways to open her children’s eyes to the wonders of nature.

A biologist by training, she found biology lessons close at hand. “One of her favorite things to do for us was to find monarch caterpillars on milkweed plants along the highways and feed them til they turned into a chrysalis, and then watch as the butterfly emerged,” recalls Griess, manager of Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and the six other refuges along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts. “She even gave me my own caterpillar cage for my birthday one year.”

“We fed birds, raised baby squirrels, incubated eggs, raised ducks. My mom was pretty much the instigator of everything. She allowed things my dad never would allow. She’d take us on nature hikes, because they were free and fun. For entertainment, the family would pile in the car – two adults and seven kids -- and drive around the undeveloped fringes of the Oak Ridge Lab in Tennessee, competing to spot groundhogs and wild turkey.

“I had the best childhood ever,” says Griess. “I attribute a lot of that to her.”

Refuge women aren’t alone in expressing a debt to their mothers. Gary Stolz, manager at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia, credits his mom, Sandy, with encouraging his interest in nature and “always putting up with my menagerie of reptiles and other pets, even though she would never hold a snake or lizard herself.”

Sometimes, though, even the most understanding mother can be pushed too far.

“One day, when I was in third grade, I was out on the back patio, flipping rocks,” recalls Stolz, “and I found my first spotted salamander. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I was so excited I picked him up and ran in the house yelling, ‘Mom! Look what I found!’ She screamed, ‘That could be poisonous!’ Startled, I threw the little salamander in the air. It landed on the carpet all covered with fuzz. I took it outside and released it unharmed.”

It’s okay, mom. The larger message is the one that stuck - the one about the joys of nature.



Thanking America’s Armed Forces
Active Duty U.S. Military Offered Free Entrance to National Wildlife Refuges

To show appreciation for those who serve in the U.S. Military, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is issuing an annual pass offering free entrance for active duty military members and their dependents to national wildlife refuges, as well as national parks and other public lands.

“Through the years, military members, especially those far from home in times of conflict, have found inspiration and rejuvenation in America’s wild landscapes. Their dedication enables all Americans to enjoy these special places in safety and security,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “This new pass gives us a way to thank members of the Armed Forces and their families for their service and their sacrifices.”

Active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents can pick up their pass at nearby refuges. They must show a current, valid military identification card to obtain their pass. More information is available at http://store.usgs.gov/pass/index.html.

Currently, 35 units of the Refuge System charge entrance fees. This military version of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass permits free entrance all of them, as well as to sites managed by the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service that charge entrance fees. The pass is also available through these federal agencies.

The National Wildlife Refuge System and the military have strong ties. More than 200,000 acres of the Refuge System are former military lands. Following World War I and all subsequent conflicts, returning veterans and other took advantage of hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation on refuge lands. Today, the Service employs some 1,400 veterans in full-time and temporary positions, equal to nearly 20 percent of the agency’s workforce.





March 2012



Summer Fest 2012

This year's Summer Fest will feature games, crafts and activities designed around the theme of Bugs and Amphibians. The whole family will enjoy seeing live reptiles, a bee hive display and a butterfly garden where you will learn about butterflies and how to become part of the Monarch Watch. Kids can build a Toad House for their garden, participate in a Pond Scavenger Hunt, play the Small Creatures Trivia and Life Cycles Games and more!

Adults can take part in a Silent Auction of items from local artists and businesses. Also, no matter what your age, you will enjoy viewing the entries for the Trash-to-Treasure Contest as the contest winners are announced at the Summer Fest.

The Erie National Wildlife Refuge's Summer Fest 2012 will be held on Saturday, June 30th from 10AM - 4PM at the Refuge Headquarters Building on Wood Duck Lane, Guys Mills, PA. Admission is free and the event will be held rain or shine.



ENWF Spring Clean Up Days

Spring is here and it's time to think about spring cleaning. Spring Clean Up Days on the Erie National Wildlife Refuge that is! The first Clean Up date is scheduled for Sunday, April 22, 2012. Can you think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than by cleaning up the Refuge? We will be meeting at 1:00pm at the ENWR Headquarters building in Guys Mills.

A second Clean Up is set for the following Tuesday, April 24th. Those that wish to attend will be meeting at 8:00am.

Last year we cleaned along roads and at parking areas on the Sugar Lake Division of the Erie NWR collecting several pickup loads of trash. This year if we get enough participation we may be able to send a crew to the Seneca Division near Cambridge Springs which really needs some attention.

This event is open to adults and families alike! Hope to see you there!



Looking Closer, Seeing the Big Picture
By Dan Ashe, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

We’ve established a powerful vision to guide the future of the National Wildlife Refuge System – a vision that sees the Refuge System as the keystone of successful landscape conservation efforts across the nation. But successful wildlife conservation depends on more than just a vision for the future. It is also grounded in a firm understanding of the present.

As any wildlife biologist knows, establishing a baseline is key to understanding how an ecosystem is changing. Yet most of our refuges do not have a comprehensive inventory of the fish, wildlife and plants within their boundaries. We can’t effectively conserve these resources and help them adapt to a rapidly changing environment if we don’t know where and when they exist, or don’t have easy access to that information.

The Refuge System’s Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) initiative will provide the essential answers and data we need to help shape the direction of our conservation efforts and make them more efficient.

During the past century, we’ve collected a wealth of information on our refuges and in our regions – information that is scattered across multiple databases, reports and repositories. This crucial initiative will find it, organize it and make it accessible, enabling us to identify data gaps, reduce redundancies and identify opportunities.

How will that help you?

The initiative will give local managers the tools they need to build scientific capacity and provide the science-backed knowledge they need to plan and evaluate the effectiveness of conservation strategies. And with the data in hand, we will also be able to look at wildlife on a broader scale than just one refuge; we will begin to understand how that one refuge fits into the landscape.

We need to look closer at all the things that surround us on refuges, not just wildlife, fish and plants, but other natural systems such as soils, air and water. We need to understand how these systems interact.

The National Wildlife Refuge System conserves 21 million acres of wilderness, but we can’t be sure how that wilderness is affected by our stewardship.

In one pilot program, the I&M initiative is cataloging wilderness character – untrammeled, natural, undeveloped and providing solitude – and the results should tell us what effects we are having on wilderness. The program will also let us evaluate impacts of proposed actions on wilderness character.

In another pilot program, the initiative is gathering data about invasive species. This should help refuge managers assess which species pose the greatest threat.

The initiative does not stop with just traditional wildlife, either.

Coastal refuges are benefiting from I&M through SLAMM (Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model). SLAMM helps refuge managers predict effects of sea-level rise on coastal wetlands, non-tidal wetlands, low-lying uplands and associated species. This modeling is available on the Service website at http://www.fws.gov/slamm to anyone – fellow researchers, conservation partners, members of the public.

Open access to data is key for any science-driven organization. It promotes collaboration within the Service and with our partners. It provides accountability if others can see the data that informs our decisions.

We must learn from our data and our experiences. If the pilot projects do not perform as needed, we will learn from our mistakes to develop ones that do. Moving forward, we will work to apply adaptive management strategies to continually improve our conservation delivery and thus ensure we support landscape-scale habitat conservation frameworks.

I am still struck by what 10-year-old Alesha Ouren told the Conserving the Future conference audience last summer. Alesha, a student at Prairie Wetlands Learning Center in Minnesota, told us to “look closer. You’ll see more than meets the eye.”

Alesha is so right.



Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative Team

An Opportunity to Forge Natural Connections By Tom Worthington and Scott Kahan An urban refuge? No thanks! That’s what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told a group of citizens in the 1970s when they asked the Service to help stop impending habitat destruction on the fringe of the Twin Cities by establishing a national wildlife refuge along the Minnesota River floodplain. It took Congressional action (and insistent activists) to get Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge established in 1976. Similar narratives had played out on both coasts, where citizen efforts led to the establishment of Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Refuge (1974) and John Heinz Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia (1972).

We in the Refuge System know that connecting with people is vital to our efforts to “save dirt” and provide for the fish and wildlife we care deeply about. But we have struggled to understand the role urban refuges might play in forging these connections.

The first urban refuges were viewed by some in the Service as curiosities, a natural result of 1970s environmental activism. Others saw them as money sinks, diverting staff and funds from the serious work of wildlife conservation.

Over the past two years, as the Service renewed its vision for the Refuge System and studied how refuges can remain relevant to America, a close examination of the future of urban refuges has been essential. Conserving the Future recognizes that the nation is changing and that our conservation efforts must to evolve. More than 80 percent of Americans live in urban/suburban communities, and the Service values the role urban refuges play because of their innovative education programs, their robust volunteer and Friends programs, and even their wildlife conservation achievements. There are now 17 refuges within 20 miles of America’s 50 most populous urban areas.

In recognition of this issue’s importance, the Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative implementation team was established immediately after last summer’s Conserving the Future conference. The team is charged primarily with:

  1. Defining the Service’s objectives in managing urban refuges: What are the elements of an excellent urban refuge? Where do we fall short of success? How can we do better?
  2. Establishing an urban refuge initiative that relies on cooperation and coordination rather than land acquisition. By building partnerships with existing parks, zoos and natural areas, can our technical assistance help connect people, wildlife and wildlife refuges?
  3. Steering the establishment of new urban refuge partnerships in approximately 10 urban areas (large and midsize).
The team will be talking with partner organizations, seeking input from demographers and social scientists, and conducting virtual meetings with managers and staff at existing urban refuges to achieve these tasks. No longer are urban refuges considered unnecessary diversions from our conservation mission. Rather, we believe these refuges are important opportunities to build on the natural connections that Americans have to wildlife and to the work we do.

Tom Worthington, Midwest Region deputy refuge chief, is a member of the Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative implementation team. Scott Kahan, Northeast Region refuge chief, is a co-chair of the team, which will focus on recommendation 13 of the Conserving the Future vision.





February 2012



Trash to Treasure Contest

Back by popular demand, the ENWR Trash to Treasure Contest is returning to Summer Fest 2012. Rescue some trash from the recycling bin or the garbage and make it into something pretty or useful. Bring it to the refuge to display and maybe win a cash prize.

This year the age groups have been revamped with the addition of an under 8 category. The other categories are; Ages 9-12; Ages 13-16; and 17+. The first place winner in each category will be awarded a cash prize. Second place winners will receive ribbons.

Submit your entries by June 15 and the winners will be announced June 30 at the Summer Fest. Download and print the Trash to Treasure pamphlet with entry form here.



Add Your Mark to Refuge History
By Jim Kurth
Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System

As the new chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, I have the best job I ever hoped for and maybe during one of the best times in the history of the Refuge System. I have worked in the conservation profession for more than 30 years, and I can’t think of a more exciting time – even though we may face some tough financial challenges.

Why my optimism?

Because, as we implement the Conserving the Future vision over the next few years, we have the chance to advance not only the Refuge System but also the larger conservation community. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sees the vision process as the kind of strategic thinking that should be taking place across government if we are to stimulate conservation beyond our boundaries.

In short, the next few years are the Refuge System’s time to shine. We have extraordinary support from top leadership – starting with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who sees national wildlife refuges as integral to his vision for landscape conservation. Service Director Dan Ashe, whose father worked in the Service for decades, has roots in the Refuge System, having led as chief from 1998-2003. The Conserving the Future vision articulates their vision.

We’ve worked hard to get to this point. Over the past 18 months, we have fashioned a vision that will enhance our standing in the scientific community. Its implementation will help the Refuge System connect with urban and ethnic constituencies that rarely have been engaged in the conservation conversation.

Most of the nine Conserving the Future implementation teams have until this summer to formulate recommendations for policy changes and strategic direction. That means you have many months in which you can suggest innovative ways of meeting the 24 Conserving the Future recommendations. The www.AmericasWildlife.org Web site is one way to communicate. Other communications avenues – including tools like Facebook and Twitter – are also available.

The story of the Refuge System always has been one of innovation, experimentation and optimism. Now you can leave your mark. Don’t wait.



Conserving the Future Implementation Powers Forward

If you followed the 18-month development of Conserving the Future -- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s vision to guide the National Wildlife Refuge System for the next decade -- then you saw a level of transparency rare in government. That transparency is being employed again as nine implementation teams are working to make the vision a reality. The Conserving the Future vision and its 24 recommendations are online at www.AmericasWildlife.org/vision, where you can also find the guiding implementation plan, finalized on January 20 by the Executive Implementation Council, led by Refuge System Chief Jim Kurth. The plan includes a timeline for implementation and guidance on communications and progress reporting, among other facets of implementation. Quarterly progress reports will be posted online. Implementation is expected to be largely complete in about five years.

The Conserving the Future vision acknowledges the broad social, political and economic changes that have made habitat conservation more challenging in recent years. It points to a nation that has grown larger and more culturally and ethnically diverse, with less undeveloped land, more invasive species and facing the impacts of a changing climate.

The nine implementation teams – composed of Service employees – work in: strategic growth; urban wildlife refuge initiative; leadership; communications; planning; scientific excellence; community partnerships; hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation; and interpretation and education. Each team will be reaching out to Refuge Friends organizations, partners, other Service employees and subject matter experts as they develop policies and action plans. You can voice your suggestions for implementation by writing to conservingthefuture@fws.gov. Online information at www.AmericasWildlife.org/vision will be updated frequently.





January 2012



Spring Clean Up Dates Planned

Even though it's the middle of winter it's time to plan for our Annual Spring Clean Up on the Erie National Wildlife Refuge. Can you think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than by cleaning up the Refuge? The first Clean Up date is scheduled for Sunday, April 22, 2012. We will be meeting at 1:00pm at the ENWR Headquarters building in Guys Mills.

A second Clean Up is set for the following Tuesday, April 24th. Those that wish to attend will be meeting at 8:00am.

Last year's event was a great success with whole families pitching in to help. It is a great way to teach your children about service to others as well as stewardship of the planet. Hope to see you there!



Officers For 2012 Elected

At the last Board of Directors meeting held January 23rd the 2012 officers were elected. Sheldon Kauffman was named our new Board President . The rest of the officers have stayed the same for another year: Vice President, Ron Leberman; Treasurer, Ann Zurasky; Secretary, Kathleen Palmer.

Sheldon Kauffman is a fairly new member of the Friends Board but has been a Friend for awhile now as well as a representative for Faith Builders in some of our joint projects. He will be bringing some fresh insights and outlooks to the group. Congratulations Sheldon!



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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...