FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2001
The Richard King Mellon Foundation has donated one of the world's most important sea turtle nesting beaches and other adjacent wildlife habitat to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.
The donation includes one-half-mile of ocean front that is intensely used by nesting sea turtles in the refuge area. A total of 19,000 threatened loggerhead, 2,800 endangered green, and 13 endangered leatherback sea turtles nested at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge this past summer. The donation also includes scrub habitat important for the threatened Florida scrub jay and eastern indigo snake and three structures, including one used as a University of Central Florida research station. The donation, which totals about 35 acres, nearly doubles the amount of land owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.
"This generous donation by the Richard King Mellon Foundation will assure the protection of this extremely important sea turtle nesting area for the future," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "In addition, it will enable the Service to care for the scrub habitat, which must be actively managed to provide good quality habitat for Florida scrub jays and other species."
Seward Prosser Mellon, president of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, said, "The Foundation's American Land Conservation Program, under which this donation has been made, reflects our Foundation's and family's traditional and continuing interest in land conservation. We feel the private sector has an opportunity and an obligation to augment the conservation work of state and federal agencies. We are pleased that our program will help safeguard this critical nesting area for marine turtles and enlarge the resources of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge."
Senator Bob Graham said, "The Mellon Foundation's generous donation is an insurance policy for sea turtles and other wildlife. With this donation they can rest assured that their homes and nesting places will not be sacrificed in favor of condo complexes, shopping centers, or any other development."
Congressman Dave Weldon said, "This generous donation is a wonderful gift to our children and grandchildren and will do much to foster a full recovery of sea turtles."
"With their donation of these nesting sites critical to the survival of marine turtles the Richard King Mellon Foundation continues its leadership and commitment to protecting vital wildlife habitat throughout the United States," said John Turner, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. "We have been privileged to work in partnership with the Foundation since 1988 on their American Land Conservation Program and applaud them for this wonderful gift to the nation."
The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1990 to protect sea turtle nesting beaches, ocean-front areas that are extremely valuable for development and thus are highly threatened around the world. The 20-mile section of coast from Melbourne Beach to Wabasso Beach in Florida is the most important nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles in the western hemisphere and the second most important nesting beach in the world. "The success of this refuge is attributable to the partnership among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the State of Florida, Brevard and Indian River counties, private philanthropy and the nonprofit conservation community," Director Clark said. The donated structures are expected to continue to be used as a research station and possibly as office space or temporary quarters for students or volunteers.
Established in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, based in Pittsburgh, PA, has a longstanding commitment to conservation. Since 1977 the Foundation has made major grants and gifts for conservation primarily in the areas of land acquisition, wetlands protection, and wildlife preservation.
The Conservation Fund provides technical assistance to the Foundation on identification, purchase, and disposition of conservation land acquired under auspices of the American Land Conservation Program. During a little more than a decade, the Foundation has acquired land worth more than $270 million for conservation and historic preservation.
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 93-million acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 530 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance 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.
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