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The Mountain-Prairie Region


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


January 27, 2004

Contact: Mike Granger, (406) 539-8706


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge has received two significant awards, one from the Department of the Interior and one from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for efforts to improve environmental management at the refuge. A comprehensive, year-long "greening" process at CMR has greatly reduced the environmental impact of operations at the station and earned the refuge Interior’s 2003 "Environmental Achievement Award" and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2003 "Refuge of the Year Environmental Leadership Award."

The transformation of CMR’s environmental program began in mid-2002, when the refuge volunteered to participate in a pilot program, established by the Service, to make the agency’s daily operations more environmentally friendly and highlight the Service’s commitment to environmental quality and leadership. An detailed analysis of refuge operations and their environmental impact of revealed a number of opportunities to improve environmental management at CMR, ranging from vehicle usage to electricity to office supplies.

"CMR is a large refuge, about 1.1 million acres in size, and refuge staff drive an average of more than 400,000 miles each year in the course of performing our duties," said Mike Granger, Environmental Management Coordinator at the Refuge. "Accordingly, we looked closely at vehicle usage and how to improve the efficiency of our vehicle fleet."

A key step toward improving fleet efficiency was to start replacing gas pickup trucks with diesel trucks (many vehicles were actually converted to bio-diesel, a 80/20 mix of diesel fuel and soybean oil). This step resulted in 8 miles per gallon greater efficiency per vehicle replaced. CMR will continue to replace gas trucks with diesel trucks as funds become available. Also, the refuge acquired a hybrid gas/electric sedan that gets 50 miles per gallon.

Other major measures include the use of soy-based lubricants for heavy equipment at the refuge, which has reduced the station’s waste stream by 700 gallons per year, an extensive recycling program for regularly used supplies such as paper, batteries, antifreeze, and steel, and the implementation of a wind energy program featuring an on-site turbine to power the refuge offices and shop in Lewistown. Electric power for other areas on the refuge is purchased from rural electric co-ops that provide "green electricity" from wind farms in Wyoming and Colorado. CMR’s goal is to reduce energy consumption at the refuge by 30 percent in 2005 and 35 percent by 2010.

These, and other creative approaches, led Interior to select CMR for the Environmental Achievement Award. The selection process considered all Department of Interior agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Reclamation, and others. Similarly, in receiving the Service’s Refuge of the Year Environmental Leadership Award, CMR competed against the more than 540 other units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Granger noted: "We at CMR want to do the best job we can in managing this refuge and its resources for the American people. Part of that effort includes ensuring that we leave as small a footprint as possible here."

Granger and Refuge Manager Mike Hedrick traveled to Washington, D.C. in late 2003 to accept the award from Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. The Refuge has also been nominated for the 2004 White House Closing the Circle Award, which will be awarded later this year by President George W. Bush.

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 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 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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