Thursday, May 22, 2008

Do you bird in a national wildlife refuge?

If you said "yes," then read on. Consider taking action, too.

According to the Cooperative Alliance to Refuge Enhancement, our national wildlife refuges require at least $765 million each year to operate adequately. The refuge system currently receives only $434 million per year – an average of just $4.34 per acre.

Today, CARE -- consisting of 22 organizations -- released a report to Congress: "Restoring America's Refuges 2008: A plan to solve the refuge system funding crisis." Page 3 of the report says:

Throughout the country, our national wildlife refuges are being closed to the public, millions of acres of wildlife habitat are being overrun by invasive species, and nearly 600 refuge positions, including biologists, public outreach specialists and law enforcement officers, have been terminated or are on the chopping block. We must act swiftly to fund the stewardship of these national treasures if we are to ensure the vitality of the National Wildlife Refuge System and its crucial role in protecting America’s natural lands, waters and wildlife. ...

For over a century, our Refuge System has preserved America’s wildlife, hunting and fishing traditions, water quality, and ever-shrinking natural areas. Each year, tens of millions of people hunt, fish, watch wildlife, and learn from educational programs on wildlife refuges in every U.S. state and territory. In addition, wildlife refuges are critically important on local and regional scales, as visitors generate more than $1.7 billion in annual sales to local economies, resulting in employment for more than 27,000 U.S. workers. And in keeping with its conservation mandate, the Refuge System provides a last bastion for more than 250 at-risk plant and animal species. (Emphasis mine--akh)

(Click on the map to see a larger version.)

Click here to see how lack of funding has affected refuges in your state. Then consider contacting your state senators and representatives in Congress.

If you don't speak for the birds and the habitat that they need, who will?

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