Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131
News ReleaseMarch 14, 2007
National Wildlife Refuge System Celebrates 104th Anniversary
In his December 1904 Message to Congress, President Theodore Roosevelt took the opportunity to urge lawmakers to authorize the setting aside of certain forest reserves and public lands as game refuges for the preservation of the "bison, wapiti and other large beasts once so abundant in our woods and mountains and on our great plains, and now tending toward extinction." By the time of his speech, Roosevelt had established just two national wildlife refuges -- Pelican Island in Florida and Breton Island in Louisiana. He was just getting started.
By the end of his Presidency, he had created 53 refuges, including Three Arch Rocks Refuge, the first on the West coast; the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge; and a total of seven refuges in Alaska, including protection for the Pribilof Islands that today are part of Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.
Geoff Haskett, Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, commented in a recent letter to refuge employees, "On this, the 104th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System, I can say that what we do every day is important for our country, the resources that we are pledged to protect, and for our fellow citizens."
Haskett acknowledged the importance of non-profit support groups to refuges, like the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society in eastern North Carolina, "The growing Refuge Friends movement – with 30,000 to 40,000 members in more than 200 Friends organizations – is one clear indication that people believe our work is essential. One hundred twenty-nine members of the House of Representatives, from both sides of the political aisle, have told us our work is critical by their membership on the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus, which is growing every month. The 40 million people who visit national wildlife refuges each year show us just how important refuges are to communities and to those who value our nation’s resources."
In his final comment, Haskett acknowledged the value of the employees themselves. "On this anniversary, I thank you for your work, your imagination, your diligence and, most of all, your enthusiasm. You bring pride to the uniform you wear."
The public is encouraged to visit local national wildlife refuges in North Carolina. The 104th anniversary or refuges is the perfect reason for taking the time to make a visit! For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/northcarolina.