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Summit Overview | Director's Message | Messages from Refuge Managers

Conservation Summit Will Promote Partnerships

— by Marge Kolar

Photo of Marge Kolar.
Marge Kolar
With a wildlife refuge in every state and 95 million acres to manage, the Refuge System can't possibly fulfill its "wildlife first" mission alone. A host of partnerships with nonprofit organizations, private corporations and other federal agencies have reinforced and expanded the Refuge System's programs.

Our own programs at the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex would be greatly diminished without our partners' support. For example, our Environmental Education Center would be closed on weekends without help from the City of San Jose, Santa Clara Valley Water District and the San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society.

Now, at a time of tight budgets and competing demands, our partnerships have become even more important. In fact, partnerships have had a direct dollars-and-cents impact on the Refuge System as a whole.

The 21 conservation and recreation organizations that joined CARE (the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement) have made themselves heard by the nation's decision-makers: Since CARE's establishment, the Refuge System's budget for operations and maintenance has more than doubled – from $161 million annually to about $388 million this fiscal year. In fiscal year 2003 alone – the year of the Refuge System's Centennial – CARE worked with Congress and the Administration to secure a $48 million increase for operations and maintenance – the single largest annual funding increase ever.

The Conservation in Action Summit, in recognition of the pivotal role our partners play, seeks to articulate a shared sense of priorities among the USFWS and our partners. And for good reason – the impact of partnerships can be seen on the ground.

Only a strong partnership with the State of California and private foundations, and the support of local governments, private businesses and environmental organizations would have resulted in the recent acquisition of 16,500 acres of endangered species and migratory bird habitat in an area surrounded by 7.5 million people here in San Francisco Bay. No one partner could have accomplished that feat alone.

We will need to continue to nurture such partnerships in order to fulfill our wildlife conservation mission. The Conservation Summit will allow us to enhance this synergy while providing the Refuge System with a shared road map for the future.

Marge Kolar has been manager of the San Francisco Bay NWR Complex since 1994. She has been with the USFWS since 1976, having previously served in Washington, DC, Michigan and Washington states.


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