Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131
March 14, 2008
National Wildlife Refuge System Celebrates 105th Birthday!
While some tend to bemoan becoming yet another year older, Geoff
Haskett, Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, has found reason to
celebrate the Refuge System's 105th birthday this month.
"As the Refuge System turns 105 this month, there is much to celebrate
-- 548 national wildlife refuges and 37 Wetland Management Districts,
together spanning about 97 million acres; more than 200 Refuge Friends
groups that constitute a thriving citizens¹ movement; a new Congressional
Wildlife Refuge Caucus with more than 130 members; and a sense across the
country that national wildlife refuges matter in people¹s lives," said
And although the Refuge System can always use more funding to meet the
goals of its mission, this year's federal budget did include an increase in
"We had some great financial news this year! The President signed an
omnibus spending bill that increased the Refuge System funding by about $39
million to $434.1 million. Much credit goes to a reinvigorated Cooperative
Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE), our Refuge Friends, the
Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus and our friends in the Senate as well,
who together make the case for the Refuge System in ways that no one else
can," said Haskett.
The removal of the bald eagle from the endangered species list was a
tremendous achievement for the Refuge System. More than a hundred field
stations are home to America¹s national symbol, and scores of wildlife
refuges were established specifically for the raptor.
The de-listing of American Bald Eagles is just one of the accomplishments celebrated by wildlife enthusiasts as the National Wildlife Refuge System celebrates 105 years. This photograph was just one among many incredible photos submitted recently to the Wings Over Water Photo Contest. Keep your eyes peeled for OBX WILD- Take a Walk on the Wild Side coming soon!
Photo Credit: GUY LIVESAY | www.livesayphotography.com
Locally, bald eagles are now a frequent sight on the refuges in North
Carolina and at Mackey Island in Virginia.
"More important is what the bald eagle symbolizes -- national wildlife
refuges in every part of the United States are models for conservation,"
said Haskett. "Whether it¹s our work for ducks and geese, whooping cranes or
the Florida Key deer, national wildlife refuges are critical places for
wildlife being squeezed by a world that runs on high octane."
Outreach programs designed to educate families to the world of the
wildlife also have grown over the decades.
"'Children and Nature' is a great theme for the Fish and Wildlife
Service, and the Refuge System can be proud that we¹ve been connecting
people with nature for decades," said Haskett. "I am thrilled not only at
the number of programs that each year introduces and connects families to
the natural world, but also at their innovation. Last year, more than
750,000 students and teachers took part in our environmental education
programs. Each year, we welcome about 39 million visitors, who in 2006
poured $1.7 billion of economic activity into neighboring communities."
In northeastern North Carolina, the Refuge System offers a long list of
programs to allow the public access and an increased awareness of the
importance of promoting and preserving the vast array of wildlife found in
the region. Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival in November, Pea Island bird
walks offered year-round, Wolf Howlings in the summer, Wildfest in the fall
and other nature outings draw thousands of people each year to the local
"As we celebrate this anniversary, we know that we face many challenges,
from climate change and urbanization, to a changing America that is too
often more attuned to sitting in front of a video screen than awaiting the
sight of 10,000 broad-wing hawks from one of our observation towers," said
Haskett. "But when the bicentennial of the Refuge System comes around in
2103, generations not yet born will marvel at the land legacy we are
creating today. I thank refuge staff for working so hard to continue and
expand what the first century of refuge pioneers left to us a guarantee
that at least a part of this great continent will forever be home to
wildlife, great and small."