The Flyer E-Newsletter: October 2014



David Headshot

Dear Friends,

Happy National Wildlife Refuge Week! From now until Saturday October 18 national wildlife refuges everywhere are hosting celebrations ranging from bird watching to bioluminescent kayak tours. Now is probably the best time to visit a national wildlife refuge because of migration, the beautiful weather, and the extensive list of activities. In “hot” places it isn’t so hot, and in “cold” places it isn’t quite cold yet. Because it’s migration time, you are almost guaranteed to see wildlife on the move – it is truly incredible.

Photography is one of the most popular pastimes on wildlife refuges. Visitors everywhere take incredible photographs and this year, we asked you to send us some of your favorites that we can share on social media. Boy did you! We received more than 600 photos and all this week, we’ll be sharing them on our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

Speaking of sharing, the giving season is almost upon us. For those of you who are federal employees, we would be grateful for your support through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Our CFC# is 10076. Find the link at the bottom of this Flyer. And for others who want to support us, please consider a donation. As a non-profit, we work very hard to protect the Refuge System and land beyond its boundaries, but we can’t do it without your help.

Finally, don’t forget that we are now taking nominations for our 2015 Refuge System awards. Do you know someone exceptional at your local refuge? The categories are Refuge Manager of the Year, Refuge Employee of the Year, Refuge Friends Group of the Year, and Refuge Volunteer of the year. Read more here about how to submit a nomination here.

Please be sure to get out to enjoy your favorite national wildlife refuge on this very special National Wildlife Refuge Week!



David Houghton


The National Wildlife Refuge System

Jim Kurth, Chief of Refuges assist with Pelican release on Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the first refuge in the System | Garry Tucker, USFWS
Jim Kurth, Chief of Refuges assist with Pelican release on Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the first refuge in the System | Garry Tucker, USFWS

This week is National Wildlife Refuge Week! Rather than featuring one specific refuge, this month’s Flyer warrants a feature on the Refuge System as a whole. Our national wildlife refuges are home to more than 700 types of birds, 220 varieties of mammals, 250 kinds of reptiles and amphibians, 1,000 species of fish and countless invertebrates and plants. They provide havens for some 280 endangered species, from the Florida panther to the polar bear.


The story of the Refuge System began in 1903 when President Theodore Roosevelt created a “Federal Bird Reservation” at Pelican Island in Florida to save brown pelicans. The protection of this three-acre mangrove island was a pivotal moment for the American conservation movement, laying the groundwork for what would become our system of national wildlife refuges. Read more...

Today, more than 560 national wildlife refuges have been established across the country, with at least one in every U.S. state and territory. Although some are in remote areas, many are within an hour’s drive of major cities, enabling millions of Americans to visit and cherish their natural heritage up close. 

Why are refuges important?

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to “administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.”

A Pygmy Rabbit, one of the many species protected by refuges | R.DixonandH.Ulmschneider
A Pygmy Rabbit, one of the many species protected by refuges | R.Dixon and H.Ulmschneider

Wildlife refuges provide large tracts of land that provide safe and healthy habitat for wildlife, plants, insects, etc. Different than national parks or forests, wildlife refuges are managed for wildlife first to ensure their protection. Without wildlife refuges, the world’s largest network of public lands and water, many wildlife species would be extinct by now. Refuges ensure that wildlife will be around for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.  

Benefits to surrounding communities:

Not only are wildlife refuges vital for some species’ survival, they also provide many additional benefits to the surrounding communities. Read more...


  • Generate more than $2.4 billion for local economies and create nearly 35,000 U.S. jobs annually;
  • Protect clean air and safe drinking water for nearby communities;
  • Attract approximately 46.5 million visitors each year, offering activities such as wildlife-watching, hunting, fishing, photography, hiking, canoeing, kayaking and environmental education;

For every $1 appropriated to the Refuge System, an average of $4.87 is returned to local economies.


Reaching out to new communities:

Although national wildlife refuges exist in every state and offer many benefits to local communities, many people still don’t realize what they have right in their backyard. An estimated 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, yet many urbanites spend very little outdoors in nature, let alone on a wildlife refuge. That is why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has launched the Urban Wildlife Refuge Program. Read more...

Unlike other refuge programs, the Urban Wildlife Refuge Program meets people where they are, in the cities and suburbs, and helps make connections between their interests and the nearby landscapes the Refuge System protects. The heart of the program is to engage urban neighbors to foster a sense of stewardship and appreciation for conservation.

UWRP Sticker“We have to make conservation relevant to a changing America,” said Jim Kurth, Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The program kicked off in August when Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex was the first recipient of $1 million in new urban program funding. The SoCal Urban Wildlife Refuge Project incorporates outdoor learning, service and stewardship of natural habitats, and conservation-based projects for kids and young adults from diverse communities. It encompasses activities not only at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex but also to the north at Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, a new Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership called Condor Kids, and in Los Angeles under the auspices of the L.A. River Rover Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership. Ten exceptional programs have been incorporated into the SoCal Project that will complement and expand current outreach and education programs on the refuges.

The Urban Wildlife Refuge Program also includes new Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships. These partnerships are long-term, place-based partnerships that enable the Service to reach beyond refuge boundaries and engage urban communities in conservation on lands owned or managed by local non-profits, municipalities, or community groups, within easy access for residents.

To learn more about these incredible partnerships, click here, and watch a video about them here:  

Refuge Week:

Refuge Week has been celebrated annually since 1995 on the second full week of October. Events happen all across the country, some of which are listed in our “Refuge Friends Connect” section of this month’s Flyer. Not only do refuges recognize Refuge Week, but so does the U.S. Senate. In a resolution passed last month, the Senate recognized the value of the National Wildlife Refuge System to the American people. The resolution showcases the remarkable lands and waters of the Refuge System, the value to local communities, and the support provided by refuge Friends groups and volunteers. Read more...

This resolution:

  • encourages the observance of National Wildlife Refuge Week with appropriate events and activities;
  • acknowledges the importance of national wildlife refuges for their recreational opportunities and contribution to local economies across the United States – returning on average almost $5 in economic activity for every $1 appropriated to run them;
  • pronounces that national wildlife refuges play a vital role in securing America’s hunting and fishing heritage for future generations;
  • identifies the significance of national wildlife refuges in advancing the traditions of wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, and interpretation;
  • recognizes the importance of national wildlife refuges to wildlife conservation and the protection of imperiled species and ecosystems, as well as compatible uses;
  • acknowledges the role of national wildlife refuges in conserving waterfowl and waterfowl habitat pursuant to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918;
  • reaffirms the support of the Senate for wildlife conservation and the National Wildlife Refuge System; and
  • expresses the intent of the Senate— to continue working to conserve wildlife; and to manage the National Wildlife Refuge System for current and future generations.

Read the rest of this month’s Flyer for more about Refuge Week!



Refuge Association Growing on Social Media

The Refuge Association has reached 100k likes on Facebook
The Refuge Association has reached 100k likes on Facebook

Call for photos:

About a week and a half ago, we asked all of you loyal readers and followers to send us your favorite photos taken on refuges and boy did you deliver! We have received over 600 photos and will be sharing them on all of our social media sites throughout this entire week. Make sure to like us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter to see all the amazing photography!

The Refuge Association is on Instagram!

Two weeks ago, the Refuge Association joined Instagram, and you can find us at the username RefugeAssociation. If you have an Instagram account, be sure to follow us for photos of outstanding wildlife and landscape shots. If you don’t have Instagram, now might be the perfect time to try it out. Instagram is one of the social sites where we’ll be sharing all of the Refuge Week photos submitted to us, and you don’t want to miss out.

We’ve reached 100k likes on Facebook!

In celebration of the Refuge Association Facebook page reaching 100,000 likes, here are our most popular Facebook posts. Enjoy! Read more...

  1. PipingPloversPiping Plovers: This photo, posted mid August, highlights one of the main species that is protected at Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuges: Piping Plovers. Just before this photo was posted, the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement, which the Refuge Association chairs, presented Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) with a carving of piping plovers in recognition of his support for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Reed, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, has been a longtime supporter of robust funding for America’s wildlife refuges and has demonstrated his commitment to conservation through his leadership in Congress. To learn more about Senator Reed and his award, click here.
  2. pathsDirt Trails: We love this quote posted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Although the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to preserve land for wildlife, it is also imperative that people enjoy it as well. About 80% of the United States population now live in urban areas and a large portion of those people very rarely spend time outside. That is why the Urban Wildlife Refuge Program works to bring the majority of Americans onto wildlife refuges, and bring wildlife refuges to them. Spending time outside, on wildlife refuges provides immense benefits for the community, the individual, and also the wildlife.
  3. ospreyLunch is Served!: This osprey definitely is not camera shy, and neither are some others we’ve heard about! In a story from the May Birding Community E-Bulletin, an osprey set up a nest right in front of a traffic camera the western side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on its span to the DelMarVa Peninsula. The Service determined that the nest could be removed as long as there were no eggs in the nest. So the Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA) removed the nest, only for the osprey to rebuild it time and time again. Finally, MdTA built a wooden platform near the cameras where the osprey was finally able to set up a nest. Birding Community E-Bulletins are posted every month with more great stories like this one.
  4. pelicanCarp” Diem: What a mouthful! The nutrient rich carp will definitely keep that pelican full, just as the Bear River Watershed, where this photo was taken, provides nutrients and sustenance to a wide variety of wildlife and people. The Bear River Watershed is one of the Refuge Association’s focus areas in our Beyond the Boundaries Program. The Bear River is the largest waterway in the arid Great Basin region, and thus plays a crucial role in supporting habitats and wildlife here. For example, the river sustains more than 41,000 acres of freshwater wetlands that provide refuge to thousands of migratory birds. The river is also vital to the people of the region, providing an important water source for irrigation to support crops and cattle, as well as outdoor recreation. Development and pollution pose major threats to this unique and irreplaceable resource. The Refuge Association has been working with the Service since 2009 supporting planning and outreach efforts, expanding conservation education programs, and advocating for funding to support land and water acquisition. Click here to learn more about our work in the Bear River Watershed.
  5. albatrossYou lookin at me? This black-footed albatross attracted hundreds of comments and shares from our loyal facebook fans. Without you, we wouldn’t have made it to 100k likes on facebook – quite literally! It is also because of you, our readers and supporters, that we are able to protect wildlife and America’s national wildlife refuges on a daily basis. From your written and verbal support, to donations and work out on the refuges, we appreciate it all.


Black Tipped Reef Shark, one of the species protected by the monument expansion | Laura Taylor
Black Tipped Reef Shark, one of the species protected by the monument expansion | Laura Taylor

Updates from the Hill

Congress is in recess and election season is in full swing. If you’re in a state with a competitive race, you know what we mean!

Before Congress recessed, lawmakers passed a Continuing Resolution (CR), funding the government at FY14 levels through December 11th. Future action on FY14 bills all hinge on the results of the midterm elections. Hill insiders say if Democrats retain control of the Senate, there will be an appetite to try to iron out differences in the final bills before the 113th Congress adjourns. However, if Republicans win control of the Senate, they will likely want to wait until a new Congress, when the party would have control of both chambers, to decide final funding numbers for FY15. Either way, a lot rides on the outcome.  Read more...

In addition, the Senate passed two resolutions that highlight the importance of public lands. The first is a resolution introduced by Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) designating October 12-18 as National Wildlife Refuge Week. The second, introduced by Sen. Wyden (D-OR) and Sessions (R-AL), is a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. We commend all these Senators and their colleagues for recognizing the importance of our refuges and wilderness areas. Both resolutions passed before Congress left for recess.  

Largest Marine Protected on Earth – Managed by the Refuge System

The National Wildlife Refuge System is now responsible for managing nearly half a billion acres of lands and waters for wildlife conservation. With the expansion of an existing National Monument in the Pacific ocean, the Refuge System is now the primary manager for approximately 483,628,565 acres of lands and waters across the globe.  Read more...

In a huge victory for conservation, the Obama administration announced September 25 the expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument now covers approximately 490,000 square miles in the south-central Pacific ocean and is home to some of the most pristine and biodiverse waters in the world. The expansion centers around three national wildlife refuges: Wake Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, Johnston Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, and Jarvis Island National Wildlife Refuge. The expanded National Monument protects the waters surrounding the refuges 200 nautical miles from land.

The monument proclamation bans commercial fishing and other resource extraction activities, such as deep-sea mining. Sustainable recreational and traditional fishing will still be allowed.

The expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is of global and regional ecological importance for large predatory fish, seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles. An estimated 14 million seabirds representing 19 species use these areas as feeding and breeding grounds. Five species of protected sea turtles, including the critically endangered leatherback, and 22 species of protected marine mammals use these waters as migratory routes and feeding grounds. Also, remarkably rich coral ecosystems would be protected.

We support the President in his decision to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and make conservation the primary purpose of the monument. That said, we must not forget that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will need additional resources to manage this increase of management responsibility. Other Pacific monuments created by the Bush Administration in 2006 and 2009 came with no additional resources for management. And on top of the added management responsibilities, the Refuge System has suffered from a nearly 20% cut in funding since FY 2010. We will be urging the President to request additional resources for the Refuge System in his FY 2016 budget request that acknowledges this area’s great importance – not just to Americans, but to the world.

Click here to read our press release.

Click here for the press release from the Department of the Interior.



A family enjoying the view at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, one of the refuges offering an event for Refuge Week | AlexBaranda
A family enjoying the view at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, one of the refuges offering an event for Refuge Week | AlexBaranda

Below is A Sampling of National Wildlife Refuge Week Events Put on by Friends and Refuges:

October 11-19: Various Events

Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, OH

The Refuge will be hosting a variety of events all throughout Refuge Week! On October 11 is the Big Sit Birding Event, and international day of birding. Also on October 11 is a Naturalists Meeting. On October 14 you and your family and friends can enjoy a Night with the Stars. On October 15 bring the kids out to At Home in a Habitat. October 18 is a photography scavenger hunt. Finally, on October 19 is a Hayride and Live Raptors on a Middle Island Adventure. Click here for more details!


October 11: Walking Tour (2pm-3pm)

Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA

“The nation’s 561 national wildlife refuges protect wildlife habitat while cleaning our air, filtering our water and pollinating our crops. They also provide world-class hunting and fishing and hiking. Come with us on a walking tour as we explore the 1st urban national wildlife refuge and learn about the unique habitats that are in your very own backyard. Questions? Call Julie: 408-262-5513 ext.104.” Reservations required.


October 11: Wildlife Festival (starting at 9am)

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, FL

This event is filled with tons of wildlife-centric activities such as a sea turtle obstacle course, live snake displays, shorebird photo presentation, a bioluminescent kayaking trip, and more! Click here for more details.


October 12 The Big Sit!

Scores of wildlife refuges will host this annual birding event in which teams count and report bird species seen or heard from a 17-foot-diameter circle. Refuges participating include:


October 12-18: Sunset Walks every night (5:30pm- dark)

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ

Join us to watch the many species of migrating ducks that descend into the Refuge pools to spend the night. It’s awesome! Easy walk on service roads. Van available Sunday and Thursday nights; space in the van is limited – reservations required. Meet at Bluebird Parking Lot, 197 Pleasant Plains Rd., Harding Township, NJ.


October 19: Guided Birding Tour (9am-11am) and Reception (1pm-3pm)

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, NY

For the birding tour, join refuge staff and volunteers for a tour of the refuge with visits to birding hot spots. The reception will feature live music by Jim Clare and Perry Cleaveland with fall favorite snacks and beverages.


Click here to find even more wonderful events happening all across the country!


We’re now accepting award nominations for the 2015 National Wildlife Refuge Association National Wildlife Refuge System Awards. The National Wildlife Refuge System Awards, sponsored by the Refuge Association, honor outstanding accomplishments by refuge managers, refuge employees, volunteers and Friends groups. Recognizing the excellence of these individuals and groups not only highlights the dedication and devotion of those who support the Refuge System, but also raises awareness about the diversity of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the challenges it faces and innovative efforts across the country to meet those challenges. For more information about the awards and how to submit a nomination, click here!





Friends and Refuges: A Valuable Partnership

It’s Refuge Week!

Pioneer of Kodiak Brown Bear Biology Passes Away at Age 89

The Birding Community E-Bulletin October

We’ve Reached 100k!

Partners for Conservation Meets in Mississippi for Annual Private Lands Partners Day

New Visitor Center Construction Underway for Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Double Dose of Fun on Refuges

Partnerships in the Refuge System: Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge and Neighboring Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom

Delmarva Fox Squirrel Officially Recovered

Urban Wildlife Refuge Program Highlighted on Capitol Hill


Puddles the Blue Goose has been the official symbol of the National Wildlife Refuge System since 1936.  The Goose can be seen on publications, posters and refuge boundary signs all across the US – and sometimes in person at special events!

Puddles the Blue Goose, Mascot of the National Wildlife Refuge System | USFWS
Puddles the Blue Goose, Mascot of the National Wildlife Refuge System | USFWS

The National Wildlife Refuge System is best known for: From one-ton bison to half-ounce warblers, you can find a vast variety of species and landscapes throughout the country. It is the nation’s largest network of public lands dedicated to wildlife conservation.

The Refuge System’s best-kept secret is: An amazing amount of wildlife – from 700 species of birds to 220 mammals and more — right in many people’s backyards. At least one refuge can be found in every state, and world-class recreation is available at most of them.

The most interesting species in the Refuge System is: I might be biased, but I would have to say the blue goose. I was once thought to be a separate species but I’m now recognized as a dark form, or “morph,” of the snow goose.

Favorite activity in the Refuge System is: Flying! The Refuge System is vital for my survival as well as many other species of birds. I migrate from way up at the north end of North America in the summer, down to many regions in the United States for winter. If I’m around I’m hard to miss as I like to be in large flocks with others of my kind.

The best time to visit the Refuge System is: Right now! Most refuges will have migratory birds stopping through. The weather is perfect this time of year because the country’s “hot” climes aren’t so hot and the “cold” areas aren’t so very cold yet. However, each refuge is unique and may have special times of year that are particularly amazing. Find a refuge close to you.

See Puddles in this “Get Your Goose On!” video.


Attention Federal Employees!


Support the Refuge Association through the Combined Federal Campaign

As you know, the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the annual fund-raising drive conducted by federal employees in their workplace each fall. Please help us make a difference for the Refuge System by checking #10076 on your contribution form. CFC donations help us carry out our mission of protecting refuges by building community support and educating decision-makers about the importance of refuges for wildlife conservation.


Friends, are you connected?

RefugeFriendsConnect graphic is a membership site that is managed by NWRA and a group of volunteers. If you are a Friends group member or are refuge staff working with Friends you are welcome to join.


Keep an eye out for these upcoming events: 

White-tailed Deer with a female Cowbird perched on its head | Stephen Maxson
Stephen Maxson

October 12-18: National Wildlife Refuge Week

October 31: Halloween

November 4: Election Day

November 11: Veteran’s Day

November 27: Thanksgiving

National Wildlife Refuge Association


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The National Wildlife Refuge Association is on the cutting edge of wildlife habitat conservation and citizen engagement in the United States. But we need your help to advance our work protecting large landscapes, educating decision-makers in Washington, and mobilizing refuge Friends in support of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Please make a generous donation today!

Flyer Masthead Photo Credit: Kestrel, Wade Dowdy

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