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Posts Tagged ‘National Wildlife Refuges’

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) today released its report on 2017 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, based on surveys conducted in May and early June by FWS and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Overall duck numbers in the survey area remain high. Total populations were estimated at 47.3 million breeding ducks in the traditional survey area, which is similar to last year’s estimate of 48.4 million and is 34 percent above the 1955-2016 long-term average. The projected mallard fall flight index is 12.9 million birds, similar to the 2016 estimate of 13.5 million.

The main determining factor for duck breeding success is wetland and upland habitat conditions in the key breeding landscapes of the Prairies and the Boreal Forest. Conditions observed across the U.S. and Canadian survey areas during the 2017 breeding population survey were generally similar to last year with a few exceptions. The total pond estimate for the United States and Canada combined was 6.1 million, which is 22% above the 2016 estimate of 5.0 million and 17% above the long-term average of 5.2 million.

“The surveys indicate that wetland conditions and populations of most frequently harvested ducks remain above the long-term average, and for most species, populations were at or above those from last year,” said DU Chief Scientist Tom Moorman. “This is great news for waterfowlers who can now turn their attention to preparing habitat, tuning up dogs and relentlessly watching the weather forecasts for the onset of fall and winter weather that will push the birds on their annual southward migration.

“DU remains concerned about northern pintails and scaup in particular, as the survey information continues to indicate these two species remain below their long-term average populations. Both species have struggled to regain desired populations. We will continue to work with our many conservation partners to understand what drives populations of these two species. If science points to habitat limitations as contributing factors, we’ll rely on the science to develop conservation solutions to help restore populations of these birds.

“Hunters may notice in the report that mallards declined 11%, or about 1.3 million birds, from 2016.  The bulk of that appears to be related to drier conditions in the Canadian parklands region, where the surveys detected about 0.6 million fewer mallards. Overall, mallard populations remain in great shape, and FWS estimates the mallard fall flight will be similar to last year.

“Hunters should always remember that habitat and populations are going to vary over time, so we must keep focused on habitat conservation efforts over the long term. Ultimately, we need to maintain landscapes so that when precipitation and other conditions are right, the ducks will respond, produce more ducks and provide us all with a nice return on our conservation investments.”

Although most migratory game bird populations remain abundant, when and where birds will be encountered depends on many factors. Food availability, habitat and weather conditions, and other factors all influence local bird abundance, distribution, behavior and, ultimately, hunter success.

The spring surveys provide the scientific basis for many management programs across the continent, including hunting regulations. Individual states set their hunting seasons within a federal framework of season length, bag limits and dates. Hunters should check the rules in their states for final dates and bag limits.

Species estimates are:

Mallards: 10.5 million, 11% lower than 2016 and 34% above LTA

Gadwall: 4.2 million, 13% above 2016 and 111% above LTA

American wigeon: 2.8 million, 19% below 2016 and 6% above LTA

Green-winged teal: 3.6 million, 16% below 2016 and 70% above LTA

Blue-winged teal: 7.9 million, 18% above 2016 and 57% above LTA

Northern shovelers: 4.4 million, 10% above 2016 and 69% above LTA

Northern pintails: 2.9 million, 10% above 2016 and 27% below LTA

Redheads: 1.1 million, 13% below 2016 and 55% above LTA

Canvasbacks: 0.7 million, similar to 2016 and 25% above LTA

Scaup: 4.4 million, 12% below 2016 and 13% below LTA

Black ducks (Eastern Survey Area): 0.5 million, similar to 2016 and 12% below LTA

*Long-term average

View all the data and get a species-by-species breakdown at www.ducks.org/DuckNumbers.

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The South Platte at Elevenmile Canyon, Colorado. Photo by Rich Holland

The South Platte at Elevenmile Canyon, Colorado. Photo by Rich Holland

Former Interior Secretary Salazar, NWF CEO and affiliates say keep public lands public

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar joined Collin O’Mara, the National Wildlife Federation’s CEO and president, and business and conservation leaders Thursday to speak out for conserving America’s public lands and against attempts to sell or get rid of the lands that sustain fish and wildlife populations as well as hunting, fishing and the country’s multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry.

The National Wildlife Federation’s 49 state affiliates have unanimously approved a resolution that calls for keeping public lands in public hands and opposes large-scale exchanges, sales or giveaways of federally managed lands. This week, 41 of the state affiliates sent a letter to the Republican National Committee asking that it rescind a resolution adopted this year that urges Congress to turn over public lands to the Western states that want them.

The affiliates noted that public lands help grow America’s economy by supporting an outdoor recreation industry that generates $646 billion in economic benefit annually and supports 6.1 million jobs. The organizations stressed that wise stewardship of the lands that belong to all Americans is a long tradition that cuts across political and social lines.

Shadow Mountain Lake, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Shadow Mountain Lake, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

“Despite the economic importance of federal lands to wildlife and people, they remain under constant threat. In recent years, several state legislative proposals have called on the federal government to transfer ownership of public lands to the states, which in turn would pass them off to private interests in many instances,” the organizations wrote.

The Interior Department’s latest annual economic report shows the agency’s programs and activities generated $360 billion in benefits and supported more than 2 million jobs nationwide in fiscal 2013. Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar started preparing the reports in 2009 to highlight the department’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

“The nation’s public lands are the birthright and priceless heritage of all Americans. Our policymakers and elected leaders should be working to preserve and enhance these multiple use economic engines,” said Salazar, who served as Interior secretary from 2009 to 2013.

The National Wildlife Federation is on the front lines of conserving fish and wildlife and the places where they live, and in large part those places are public lands, O’Mara said.

“The National Wildlife Federation, our 49 state affiliates, and four million members and supporters strongly support keeping our public lands in public hands. As a diverse federation of hunters, anglers, hikers, wildlife watchers, and nature lovers, we are united in our passion for protecting public lands, which provide amazing outdoor experiences for all Americans, landscapes for deer, elk, pronghorn, and bison herds to migrate, forests for grizzlies, bighorn sheep and lynx, and critical habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 1,000 species of fish and 250 reptile and amphibian species. For more than a century, protecting land for the benefit all outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife has been an essential element of the American experience—and we must pass on this legacy to future generations,” O’Mara said.

The wildlife federations have worked through the years to conserve the public lands necessary for fish and wildlife and hunting and fishing and will continue to do, said David Chadwick, Montana Wildlife Federation executive director.

“Every few decades this idea of selling off public land pops up, and public opinion always beats it back. Meanwhile, the challenges facing our national forests and other public lands have continued to grow,” Chadwick added. “We need our elected officials to quit wasting time on these speculative, ideological proposals and instead take action on the common-sense, collaborative efforts under way all over the country to improve land management.”

Hanging Lake, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Hanging Lake, Colorado. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Surveys and polls show overwhelming support for public lands among voters in the West, the target of many of the drives to dispose of public land. That support extends beyond the region to other parts of the country where hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts enjoy the backcountry, rivers and forests, said Tim Gestwicki, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation CEO.

“Sportsmen and women and wildlife watchers in the Southeast value our public lands, from the Appalachians to the coast. We also value the Western lands and their abundant wildlife, big open spaces and great hunting and fishing. We stand with our fellow sportsmen and women in defending public lands and protecting the special places that offer some of the best of what this country is about,” Gestwicki said.

“Sportsmen are on the front line in this effort to prevent the transfer of federal public lands. These are the very lands where we hunt and fish, and where we pass on those traditions to our kids. The idea that somehow our federal public lands are dispensable is an affront to all hunters and anglers, and we are determined to protect these lands for ourselves and for future generations,” said Garrett VeneKlasen, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation.

America’s national parks, monuments and rugged landscapes are not only a draw for people in this country, but across the world, said Peter Metcalf, CEO and president of Black Diamond, Inc., a leading manufacturer of outdoor sports equipment and clothing.

“No other country in the world has the public land infrastructure that we have. There’s such a richness of landscape and wildlife. Our public lands and outdoor recreation and lifestyles are coveted by people around the world and are a draw for communities and employers competing for new businesses and workers,” Metcalf said. “Black Diamond’s brand is synonymous with these iconic landscapes that capture the imagination of people all over the world. In addition they are a source of inspiration for our designers, engineers and marketing people.”

Additional Resources: `Valuing our Public Lands: Safeguarding our Economy and Way of Life,’

National Wildlife Federation affiliates’ resolution on transfer of public lands.

NWF affiliates’ letter on transfer, sale of public lands.

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Coalition calls on Congress to fund the Refuge System after report shows the economic benefit to the American public is almost five times the cost to run them

A new report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Banking On Nature: The Economic Benefits to Local Communities of National Wildlife Refuge Visitation, shows that for every $1 appropriated by Congress to run the Refuge System, nearly $5 is generated in local economies. Despite the fact that the Refuge System has seen a significant increase in visitation, it has faced severe funding cuts. As Congress considers the budget bills for Fiscal Year 2014, the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) calls upon the House of Representatives and the Senate to fund the Refuge System at $499 million this year.

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Alamosa and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuges are adjacent refuges in southern Colorado. Photo courtesy FWS.

“As hunters, anglers, bird and wildlife watchers, scientists, conservationists and concerned Americans, we know the National Wildlife Refuge System has always been a worthy investment,” said David Houghton, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Chair of the CARE coalition. “Now the data proves it – refuges provide an enormous bang for the American buck.”

The report, spanning 2006-2011, shows that even during the worst recession since the Great Depression, the overall return on investment increased substantially for the Refuge System as well as every other major indicator. From 2006-2011 the Refuge System saw the following annual increases:

– 20% increase in sales and economic output to $2.4 billion;
– 22% increase in return on investment for every $1 appropriated to $4.87;
– 23% increase in jobs to 35,000.

“At the height of our economic downturn, Americans recreated on our national wildlife refuges more than ever before and that increase helped many businesses weather the economic storm,” said Houghton. “These public lands are increasingly important to hotel operators, restaurant owners, hunting guides and the countless other small businesses that depend on a vibrant Refuge System for their livelihood.”

CARE estimates that the Refuge System needs at least $900 million in annual operations and maintenance funding to properly administer its 561 refuges and 38 wetland management districts spanning over 150 million acres. At its highest funding level in FY 2010, the Refuge System received only $503 million—little more than half the needed amount. Since that time, congressional appropriations have not only failed to account for rising costs, but have been steadily backsliding. With its annual budget having declined by $50 million over the past three years, the Refuge System cannot afford to lose another penny.

The Refuge System always did “more with less” but now, after three years of budget cuts, it has to do “less with less”. Everything from acres of invasive species being treated to volunteer hours were down substantially in FY13 and further budget cuts will simply make many operations impossible.
“We hope Congress looks at this report and sees what a great investment we have in the National Wildlife Refuge System,” continued Houghton. “Let our decision makers retain funding for the programs like refuges that grow our economy.”
– REPORT HIGHLIGHTS –
– Wildlife refuges generate more than $32.3 billion each year in natural goods and services, such as buffering coastal communities from storm surges, filtering pollutants from municipal water supplies, and pollinating food crops.
– The more than 46 million hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, photographers and other recreationists who visit wildlife refuges generate $2.4 billion in sales to local communities each year.
– Visitors to refuges generated $342.9 million in local, county, state and federal tax revenue.
– 77% of refuge spending was done by visitors from outside the local area.

– QUOTES FROM CARE MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS –
American Sportsfishing Association
“Americans generally don’t think of fish and wildlife recreation as an industry but it is. Whether anglers and hunters spending their money to pursue their respective sports or funds spent on wildlife viewing, fish and wildlife recreation is big business and for many communities near a national wildlife refuge it may be most of their business. The Banking on Nature report demonstrates the importance that fish and wildlife recreation makes to the economy. It needs to be taken seriously.”
— Gordon Robertson, Vice President
Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
“National Wildlife Refuges are a mainstay of a system of state, federal, local and private lands that support our nation’s rich fish and wildlife heritage. They offer hunters, anglers, photographers and other wildlife enthusiasts a unique opportunity to connect with nature and uphold timeless traditions. The Banking on Nature report provides further economic proof of the value of wild places that accompanies their ecological worth.”
—Ron Regan, Executive Director
Defenders of Wildlife
“They are called ‘refuges’ for a reason. In this challenging economic environment, people depend even more than usual on opportunities to escape the worries of everyday living by engaging with nature and with wildlife. Those opportunities are provided by our country’s National Wildlife Refuge System. Our investments in refuges are being returned fivefold to local economies, right where the money is needed most. It’s simple math – Congress should increase funding for America’s Refuge System for the benefit of people and wildlife.”
—Jamie Rappaport Clark, President

Ducks Unlimited
“Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge which provides unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities such as hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing. This report further strengthens what sportsmen and the conservation communities already know: investment in our natural resources provide a valuable return in our nation’s economy.”
— Paul Schmidt, Chief Conservation Officer
Izaak Walton League of America
“Refuges nationwide provide some of the best hunting and fishing for American sportsmen and women and the Banking on Nature report shows once again that taxpayers and local communities receive tremendous economic benefits when we conserve natural resources and promote sustainable outdoor recreation.”
—Scott Kovarovics, Executive Director
Marine Conservation Institute
“The refuge portions of the four Pacific marine national monuments constitute one-third of the refuge system; yet, funding to safeguard these national treasures has not followed suit. The Pacific marine national monuments were designated to protect invaluable coral reefs, essential habitat for an estimated 14 million seabirds, and many threatened and endangered marine species. But illegal trespass and illegal fishing have damaged coral reefs and other marine wildlife from vessel groundings and introduction of invasive species within the monuments. Continued budget cuts to the System will hurt current efforts to restore this damage and protect these areas effectively.”
— Lance Morgan, Ph.D., President
National Rifle Association
“Hunters have been the backbone of the National Wildlife Refuge System beginning in 1903 when President Theodore Roosevelt established Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge. Since the 1930s, the purchase of Duck Stamps for waterfowl hunting and collecting have contributed substantially to the acquisition of important lands for the Refuge System. This citizen-based revenue for land acquisition is unparalleled in the world. The NRA supports CARE’s efforts to protect the hunters’ investment in our Refuge System and to strengthen public support for wildlife conservation through the economic benefits that wildlife-dependent recreation brings to local communities.”
—Susan Recce, Director of Conservation, Wildlife and Natural Resources
National Wildlife Federation
“There’s nothing more fiscally conservative than taking care of our vital assets and investing in the future. Despite years of underfunding, these important natural areas continue to draw people who want to connect to wildlife and the outdoors. They produce great economic benefits for neighboring communities. How long can that continue if Congress keeps shortchanging the refuge system?”
— Larry Schweiger, President & CEO
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
“The National Wildlife Refuge System provides outstanding hunting and angling opportunities for America’s sportsmen and women. They are drawn from across the nation to these public lands because they provide quality habitat and opportunities to hunt, fish, and enjoy nature. The new Banking on Nature report demonstrates once again that local communities near refuges benefit a great deal from federal investment in the refuge system, and stands as further evidence that Congress should support increased refuge funding to ensure that these benefits are sustained.”
— Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO

The Nature Conservancy
“The Banking on Nature report could not have come at a better time as it reinforces the tremendous value of nature as found in our National Wildlife Refuge System. National Wildlife Refuges provide innumerable public benefits for the nation – fish and wildlife habitat, special places for wildlife recreation and stimulation for local economies. The Refuge System also provides $32.3 billion in goods and services such as natural defenses from storm surges and flooding for the thousands of communities nestled around refuge areas. Strong annual funding for the Refuge System is imperative to ensure the numerous public benefits provided by this system are sustained into the future.”
— Kameran Onley, Acting Director of Government Relations
The Wilderness Society
“Our national wildlife refuges are treasures that protect important wildlife habitat, bolster the economies of local communities, and provide places for Americans to learn about and experience nature in the wild. Continuing to cut critical funding for refuges hurts these iconic lands and waters and those who depend on them while shortchanging the American taxpayer who has invested in building this vibrant National Wildlife Refuge System.”
— Jamie Williams, President
The Wildlife Society
“Refuges are essential for the conservation of our nation’s wildlife and their habitats, and they also provide a natural laboratory for wildlife biologists who are engaged in field research efforts. As the Banking on Nature report shows, they also provide important economic benefits for local communities. In light of this report, The Wildlife Society encourages Congress to provide the necessary investments in the Refuge System to allow it to continue to provide these, and myriad other, benefits.”
— Ken Williams, Executive Director
Wildlife Management Institute
“Conservation is good business and an essential investment in the future of our nation. The Banking On Nature report details the powerful economic impact of the National Wildlife Refuge System. True patriots recognize that additional funding is needed to protect our natural heritage and to enhance the economy it supports.”
— Steve Williams, President
The Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) is a national coalition of 23 wildlife, sporting, conservation, and scientific organizations representing a constituency numbering more than 16 million Americans. CARE has been working since 1995 to educate Congress, the Administration, and the public about America’s magnificent National Wildlife Refuge.

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