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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

May 4, 2002

For Dario Bard and Karen Miranda Gleason
please call the Refuge: Quivira NWR 620-486-2395

                        NORTON RECOGNIZES QUIVIRA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE AS
                                            WETLAND OF INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE

May 4, 2002: Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton today dedicated the 22,000-acre Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas as a "wetland of international importance" making the area the 18th such site in the United States and one of the 1,000 so honored worldwide. The designation under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, also known as the Ramsar convention, is non-regulatory, but brings international renown and prestige to the site. Secretary Norton was joined at the dedication by Senator Pat Roberts, Lieutenant Governor Gary Sherrer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams, and Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Director Michael Hayden.

Secretary Norton said she was impressed by the broad support that Quivira’s Ramsar designation received, including support from Governor Bill Graves and Stafford Mayor Hugh Patchin, as well as from conservation groups and business leaders.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service received letters in support of this designation from 23 local leaders from all sectors of the community," said Secretary Norton. "This a perfect example of what I call the Four C’s: cooperation, communication, and consultation, all in the service of conservation. I am proud to be here with you, and I congratulate the people of Kansas on this remarkable grassroots effort."

With this designation, Kansas now boasts two Ramsar sites; the other is Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Management Area, located 30 miles from Quivira.

The Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is being recognized as a Ramsar site for a variety of reasons: its salt marsh is a rare habitat type that is unique in the area; its lands provide for millions of birds representing more than 300 species, including endangered species such as the whooping crane and the interior least tern; and its relationship to Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Management Area.

"Quivira is a wetland of world-class caliber that brings people and wildlife together," said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams. "The refuge really comes to life during the month of May, when we welcome back many birds that return to us from other Ramsar sites throughout the Americas. Ramsar is not just a network for wildlife. It is also a network for people, linking communities and countries across thousands of miles."

On Friday, May 3, that link was made at Quivira when 5th grade students from Stafford Elementary School spent a day with Adriana Cafferata, the Shorebird Sister Schools coordinator from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Service’s Shorebird Sister School Program is an international conservation education program linking students, teachers, biologists, and bird enthusiasts in 37 U.S. States and 27 countries. Quivira shares more than 20 species of shorebirds and waterbirds with Ramsar sites in Argentina. On Friday, the Shorebird Sister School Program organized a day of activities at the refuge, where students spent a day learning about birds and using scopes and binoculars to see them up close. Cafferata has organized similar activities for South American schoolchildren for five years.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses nearly 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

- FWS -

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