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Outdoors blog

Mon., April 18, 2011, 1:30 p.m.

National Wildlife Refuges taking comment on future goals

Thousands of sandhill cranes, snow geese and other migratory birds gather at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of Socorro, N.M., Monday, Nov. 23, 2009. The refuge wrapped up its 22nd annual Festival of the Cranes on Sunday. (Susan Bryan / Associated Press)
Thousands of sandhill cranes, snow geese and other migratory birds gather at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of Socorro, N.M., Monday, Nov. 23, 2009. The refuge wrapped up its 22nd annual Festival of the Cranes on Sunday. (Susan Bryan / Associated Press)

PUBLIC LANDS -- Friday is the deadline for public comment on a draft vision of the future for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

A wide range of comments already has been posted on the elaborate website AmericaWildlife.org sponsored by the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service. (This is the best place to start.) 

For example, some see wilderness values in many refuges.

The Izaak Walton League, which works to increase the number of hunters and anglers in America, is encouraged that one of the recommendations in the vision would double youth participation in hunting and fishing on refuges by 2020. Others are not so keen about hunting on refuges.

People are posting bold ideas and others are voting on them.

A vision document – to be adopted in July at a conference in Madison, Wis. – will guide this premier system for wildlife protection into the next decade and beyond. 

Read on for more details and links.

Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation is a national effort to craft a renewed vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The work of five core teams of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees has been consolidated into this single, draft vision document for your comment and review until Earth Day – April 22, 2011. Click here to learn more about the vision process.

Download a copy (.pdf) of the draft vision.  You can also download a copy of the draft recommendations.

Start reading, reviewing and commenting with Chapter 1: Introduction or anywhere you want in the table of contents. Comments can also be emailed to comment@americaswildlife.org.

The transparency and collaborative spirit of this process has been possible through the power of partnership. The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) developed this interactive website as one means to openly engage diverse audiences to take part in lively conversations about the core teams’ focal areas, even as the core teams were writing their draft recommendations. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) is an organization of State fish and wildlife agencies that promotes sound management and conservation. They speak with a collective voice on important fish and wildlife issues and they agreed to have the Chair of their Federal and Tribal Relations Committee serve on the Steering Committee for Conserving the Future along with the National Wildlife Refuge Association.

This draft vision document begins in Chapter 1 with a look back at the Refuge System’s history of dealing with urgent conservation challenges through innovation, perseverance and leadership. It goes on to describe how the challenges of a changing planet and America affect the Refuge System’s conservation work and mission. Chapter 2 explains the vision for planning, designing, and delivering strategic conservation in the future. Chapter 3 focuses on the importance of conservation science in managing the Refuge System. Chapter 4 – called Human – Nature – recommends how the Refuge System can connect people with America’s great outdoors and engage them in the stewardship of their Refuge System. Chapter 5 lays out recommendations for organizational excellence, and Chapter 6 addresses the need to ensure that leadership development keeps pace with the challenges facing the Service. The draft vision does not include a conclusion. A final chapter summarizing our collective call to action will be written only after the critical input from reviewers like you when the revised draft vision is published in July of 2011.





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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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