Taking the pulse of the Refuge
System, several Conserving
the Future implementation
teams distributed and analyzed survey
results, while others met to move
strategies and documents to the draft
stage for the public to see this fall.
The Community Partnerships
implementation team, the first one
to survey Refuge System employees,
found that 99 percent of responding
refuges used volunteers; 57 percent
had at least one community
partnership; and 89 percent thought
a Friends organization was either
critical or could be helpful in achieving
refuge goals and objectives.
Among other findings from the
Community Partnerships survey:
- 61 percent of respondents rated
individual and group volunteers as having a broad spectrum of activity in
support of various refuge programs,
as well as being very effective.
- About 20 percent of respondents
reported that their Friends
organization did not have a formal
written agreement; a similar
proportion reported that Friends
organizations had a narrow focus and
often required substantial assistance
from the refuge staff.
When asked to identify the top
challenges facing Friends organizations,
respondents most often selected: too
few active board members; board
members facing burnout; lack of active
and engaged members; trouble finding
new board members; and a small total
number of members.
The overwhelming challenge for refuges
is the time it takes to manage Friends,
volunteers and community partnerships.
Refuge managers reported they lack
enough staff to take advantage of the
opportunities offered by these groups
and individuals. At the same time, lack
of staff or time to train and supervise
volunteers is the biggest challenge for
those who have volunteer programs.
The Community Partnerships team
used those findings as it assembled the
outline for a handbook to guide Service
staff in developing relationships with
volunteers, Friends and community
partners. The outline is available at
On another front, three Conserving
the Future implementation teams met
in August to complete documents and
strategies in communications, strategic
growth of the Refuge System and
planning. The Strategic Growth team
met as it finished an assessment of
the Refuge Systems land protection
efforts over its 109-year history. That
assessment will be presented to the
Refuge System Leadership Team
which includes the eight regional refuge
chiefsin late October.
The Communications implementation
team met to draft a strategic
communications plan and messages.
A liaison from the Urban Wildlife
Refuge Initiative implementation team
took part as the two teams found areas
The Planning implementation team
is analyzing survey responses as it
assembles lessons learned from the past
15 years of Refuge System experience
in writing comprehensive conservation
plans (CCPs) and associated stepdown
plans. The team met to discuss a
draft report on the future of planning.
The team is awaiting a report from
24 graduate students at the Indiana
University School of Public and
Environmental Affairs, who examined the
180 CCPs published from 2005 to 2011.
Follow the progress of Conserving the
Future implementation teams at http://AmericasWildlife.org/.