The Mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans1.
Co-chaired by two of its original 2006 founders, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), along with Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus (CWRC) has been resurrected! The formation of the CWRC was largely a response to budget shortfalls that resulted in multi-billion dollar maintenance backlogs and staff shortages that, many agreed, was preventing the Refuge System from fulfilling its basic mission.
The mission of the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus is to fortify, protect and preserve the National Wildlife Refuge System by supporting adequate Refuge funding, working for the strategic growth of the Refuge System through easements and targeted land acquisition and by promoting legislation to improve the Refuge System. The CWRC also aims to educate members of Congress about the increasing number of challenges facing the System through briefings and other forms of outreach2.
The purpose of the CWRC is to:
- Raise awareness of our refuge system
- Create a voice for refuges in Congress
- Support adequate Refuge System budgets
- Support the six priority activities outlined in the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act
- Support the strategic growth of the Refuge System
We have a simple, no cost solution to increase funding for our National Wildlife Refuge System – a Wildlife Conservation Stamp.
It is obvious that depending on less than 1/2 of one percent of the U.S. population to support our refuge system hasn’t worked very well in recent years.
There are approximately 320 million people in the United States and 1.3 million waterfowl hunters. The current system of relying on that tiny percentage of waterfowl hunters to conserve, manage and restore our refuge system does not bode well for future generations of Americans.
We call on the Congressional Wildlife Caucus to support adequate refuge funding by promoting new legislation to create a Wildlife Conservation Stamp that millions of non-consumptive users of our National Wildlife Refuge System will purchase every year.
Recently raising the price of the Duck Stamp from $15 to $25 was a positive change that was long overdo, but it is not enough to keep our refuge system solvent and growing. We need a much larger contingent of supporters of wildlife and wild lands. We need to offer birders, wildlife watchers and photographers a new stamp that establishes an unambiguous revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges while resonating with the values and ethics of the non-hunting community, a Wildlife Conservation Stamp.