Lots to Celebrate in the Refuge System!

Refuge System Turns 111

nwrslogoHappy Birthday to the world’s largest network of lands and waters conserved for wildlife – the National Wildlife Refuge System! Angered at the slaughter of birds for the women’s millinery trade in the late 19th Century, President Theodore Roosevelt knew something must be done to protect some of our most important natural resources – our native wildlife. With the stroke of a pen, on March 14, 1903, he created, through executive order, a sanctuary for birds at a small bird island in the Indian River Lagoon on the east coast of Florida (Pelican Island).

During his tenure, Roosevelt protected such jewels as the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Oklahoma, the National Bison Range in Montana, the Hawaiian Islands NWR in Hawaii and the Three Arch Rocks NWR in Oregon to name a few.  From it’s humble 3-acre beginning at Pelican Island, the Refuge System is now the world’s largest network of publicly owned lands and waters dedicated to the conservation of wildlife spanning 150 million acres.

Without these 562 refuges and 38 wetland management districts, many bird, plant, reptile, mammal, insect and fish species would not be thriving as they are today. These lands and waters, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provide vital habitat for thousands of species across the nation.

While the System itself is still woefully underfunded to fully implement its conservation mission – the staff at these amazing places are some of the most dedicated workers you will ever meet.  One refuge employee summed up it up after being asked why they stay with the Service after years of budget cuts, frozen salaries and never enough resources, “We are paid in sunrises and sunsets, birds, bears and bunnies, and knowing we are leaving our world a better place for our children.”

But there is still plenty to celebrate! National Wildlife Refuges are economic engines in local communities, providing an average of $4.87 in local communities for every dollar appropriated by Congress. According to a report released late last year by the FWS, (Banking on Nature Report) refuges generate more than $2.4 million in economic output and create 35,000 jobs. The Refuge System is an economic and conservation powerhouse and has become a haven for hunters, anglers, bird and wildlife watchers, photographers, scientists and children learning about our natural world.

President Theodore Roosevelt would be proud.


For more information about the Refuge System birthday click HERE.
To find an event happening near you, click HERE.


80th Anniversary of the Duck Stamp

Winner of 2013 Duck Stamp Contest
Winner of 2013 Duck Stamp Contest

Something else worth celebrating is the 80th anniversary of the Federal Duck Stamp! The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, more commonly known as the “Duck Stamp,” was established in 1934 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a federal waterfowl-hunting license. The proceeds of the stamp went to buy wetland habitat for waterfowl conservation on national wildlife refuges. Today, the Duck Stamp serves a much larger purpose and is one of the most successful conservation programs in American history.

Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar generated by the sale of these stamps goes directly to acquire wetland habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System.  But the benefits aren’t just for waterfowl!  Many refuges were acquired solely with Duck Stamp dollars such as the Kootenai NWR in Idaho, Union Slough NWR in Iowa, Reelfoot NWR in Kentucky, Yazoo NWR in Mississippi, Las Vegas NWR in New Mexico, and McFaddin NWR in Texas, and they all benefit hundreds of other species besides waterfowl. Find out how much of YOUR refuge was acquired with Duck Stamp funds!

And you don’t have to be a duck hunter to purchase a stamp. If you value the National Wildlife Refuge System, like to birdwatch or simply be in nature, this is money well spent. Since 1934, sales of Federal Duck Stamps have purchased about 2.7 million acres (about 3 % of Refuge System lands).


For more information about the Duck Stamp, click HERE.
For more information about the creation of the duck stamp, click HERE.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2014/03/much-to-celebrate-in-the-refuge-system/

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