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State of the Union Sets the Stage for FY16 Budget

Last night’s State of the Union touched on many pressing issues facing the nation, from immigration to health care to the economy. President Obama summarized his vision, and asked both sides of the aisle to put aside differences to solve of the nation’s most difficult challenges.

It was heartening to hear him include in that list of issues the importance of addressing climate change. For the National Wildlife Refuge System, climate change is a constant. Whether its rapidly melting glaciers and permafrost in the Arctic, sea-level rise and flooding along our coastlines or severe drought in our heartland, wildlife refuges in virtually every state are on the front lines of climate change.

I was particularly pleased to hear the president acknowledge his commitment to conservation when he said:

“That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history.”

This quote means a lot to me, and I’m sure to so many of our partners who have worked hard to expand wildlife refuges and conservation areas that help create connected corridors for migrating wildlife that all are in desperate need of protected woodlands, fields, marshes and forests to survive our fast changing climate.

The president’s quote was no doubt referring in part to one of his latest effort to protect land and water for conservation, his expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the South-Central Pacific Ocean. This 490 thousand square-mile area, first protected by President George Bush in 2006, is home to an estimated 14 million sea birds, five species of protected sea turtles, 22 species of protected marine mammals.

With this designation, the Refuge System now has management responsibility for nearly half a billion acres of public land and water.

This is a very good thing. However, these lands and waters don’t manage themselves. They are under constant threat from illegal activities like commercial fishing and pollution, as well as invasive species and climate change that can undermine the investments our nation made in these places for more than a century.

I’m looking forward to seeing the President’s FY16 budget proposal, due on Feb. 2. I’ll be looking to see if his budget reflects the important protections he has made to our public lands and the resources necessary to protect the investments made by many former administrations and Congresses from both parties.

To keep up with our efforts to strengthen the National Wildlife Refuge System, join our Refuge Action Network. Together our voices send a powerful message that conservation is a high priority for Americans, and during these turbulent times on Capitol Hill, we need all of the voices we can muster to remind Congress that Americans care deeply about the future of wildlife and the habitats on which they depend.

Click here to join our Refuge Action Network!

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2015/01/state-of-the-union-sets-the-stage-for-fy16-budget/

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