Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Pat Donahoe, Chief Operating Officer
United States Postal Service
Remarks for the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge
First Day of Issue Event

Riverview Park
11:00 AM, March 14, 2003

Thank you, Pete [Captain, District Manager, Central Florida District], for that kind introduction. It's great to be here in Florida for this wonderful, one-of-a-kind event.

As a COO for the Postal Service, I've attended many, many postal events, including the dedication of hundreds of beautiful and historic stamps.

But today is something really special. Today, we help celebrate the establishment 100 years ago of Florida's Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, which marked the beginning of our National Wildlife Refuge system.

In fact, earlier this morning I unveiled a bronze plaque at Pelican Island with our new stamp image on it to commemorate today's events.

The plaque reads: "The United States Postal Service issued this Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge commemorative stamp on March 14, 2003 to honor the Centennial Celebration of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The creation of this refuge in 1903 marked the beginning of the refuge system and the conservation movement in America."

In addition to this plaque, the U.S. Postal Service was proud to supply four permanent park benches, so future visitors could spend some time just sitting and enjoying the beauty of this spectacular – and protected – scenery.

With this stamp, we are giving Americans an opportunity to learn more about our natural resources and encouraging people to help preserve America's unique and precious wildlife.

Getting to this point took a lot of work. The Postal Service has been coordinating with the Centennial Committee for almost a year now, and even before that, we had to decide on the right stamp.

Let me tell you, choosing among the many worthy causes for the right one to honor with a stamp is a very tough job.

The Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee evaluates each and every suggestion the Postal Service receives for stamps—more than 30,000 a year!

And every suggestion is given the same careful consideration regarding subject, design and detail. They recommend the subjects and designs to the Postmaster General, who must make the final decision.

Postmaster General Potter takes his responsibility seriously—stamps are an important reflection of our nation.

They bring historical and contemporary subjects to life ...

They portray achievers and achievements ... ideas and ideals.


Since the first commemoratives were issued, just over a century ago, they have marked historical milestones, outstanding individuals, and extraordinary achievements.

In fact, they are sometimes called our nation's calling cards ... because they focus attention on the people and subjects worthy of our nation's pride – like the establishment of the first-ever National Wildlife Refuge, here at Pelican Island.

So, the issuance of this commemorative stamp by the U.S. Postal Service signifies the importance of this event in American history.

The new stamp features a wonderful photo by James Brandt of the famed pelican in its natural habitat – and yes, it is an actual photograph of a pelican in Florida – you can tell because it has a tan... The bottom of the stamp reads "Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge 1903-2003" and there is text on the back to give every single purchaser of this stamp even more information about the significance of Pelican Island.

The Postal Service, as one of America's largest organizations, with a presence in every community in the country, has a special role to play in supporting environmental programs.

Since 1993, we have worked hard to integrate environmental decision making into daily operations. We created an Environmental Strategic Plan with what we call "the Seven Guiding Principles." These principles guide our operations around the nation.

Let me share them with you:

We will meet or exceed all applicable environmental laws and regulations in a cost-effective manner.

We will incorporate environmental considerations into our business planning processes.

We will meet or exceed all applicable environmental laws and regulations in a cost-effective manner.

We will foster the sustainable use of natural resources by promoting pollution prevention, reducing waste, recycling, and reusing materials.

We will expect every employee to take ownership and responsibility for our environmental objectives.

We will work with customers to address mutual environmental concerns.

We will measure our progress in protecting the environment.

And, we will encourage suppliers, vendors, and contractors to comply with similar environmental protection policies.

When an organization the size of the US Postal Service commits to do things like this, it makes a big difference and sets an example for other companies to follow.

The results have been dramatic. Just last year, we recycled over one million tons of used materials. But we don't just produce recyclables. We also buy them. In fact, we purchase more than $200 million worth of recycled products every year.

The Postal Service is also among the nation's leaders in using renewable energy. We have working solar power systems at postal facilities in California, Texas, Colorado, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico. And postal facilities in Oklahoma and Maryland are using geothermal technology to provide heating and cooling.

Two years ago, we dedicated the nation's largest commercial fuel cell system at the Anchorage, Alaska mail center. For the first time ever, a fuel cell system is part of an electric utility's grid, as it serves energy needs in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner.

We also have the nation's largest compressed natural gas delivery fleet, with more than 7,500 of our Long-Life Vehicles converted to this environmentally-friendly process./

So, I'm here today to tell you that we don't just talk the environmental talk, we've backed up our words with action.

And speaking of action, I noticed we have both a real, live pelican and an eagle here with us today as well.

That's a fitting combination, because from this day forward, letters with the Pelican Island stamp will fly across the nation on the wings of the Postal Service eagle... all for only 37 cents!

But that's only symbolic. I really don't recommend letting the pelican and the eagle fly together... it could get ugly!

Today, these stamps are only available here in Sebastian, Florida. Tomorrow, more than 55 million will be available at Post Offices across the nation.

And now, Secretary Norton, would you please join me?


With this new commemorative stamp, the Postal Service marks a milestone in the history of wildlife conservation in America.

On behalf of the United States Postal Service, it is our pleasure to dedicate our newest stamp – the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge commemorative stamp. /

(Unveil the stamp; stand together briefly to allow photo opportunities)

Thank you.

(Nancy Ross will be available on-site to provide assistance)

-- END --

Last updated: November 3, 2008