All across our country there are Friends who protect and promote National Wildlife Refuges. Friends groups are dedicated nonprofits that advocate, raise awareness, and much needed funds for these wild places. With 570 units in the National Wildlife Refuge System in all 50 states and 5 U.S. territories there is a “wild place” within a two hour drive of most Americans making nature and wildlife closer than most other destinations, including National Parks.
Our Friends are also on the front lines of a changing climate and growing public appreciation for the largest collection of public lands in America. With over 90 million land acres and 760 million marine acres the National Wildlife Refuge System plays a critical role in carbon sequestration and ecosystem benefits. Estimates place a figure totaling 1 billion annually in avoided CO2 emissions alone. Added tourism and local impacts to infrastructure and the environment are incalculable and thus go under-appreciated in our annual budgets.
With over 180 Friends groups across the country our Friends are driven to fill the ever increasing needs of our refuges and fish hatcheries. From assisting with a large backlog of deferred maintenance projects, providing volunteer hours to abate a critical staffing shortage, to fundraising in our local communities to provide funds for educational programming to underserved communities, we are typically the friendly face that Fish and Wildlife Service turns to first when help is needed.
We need strong advocates in Congress that understand the importance of how our largest natural defense against climate change deserves to be funded appropriately so that we can continue to protect America, its citizens and economic assets, from future hardship and to provide wild places that serve both wildlife and humanity alike.
Do you know what these creatures have in common? Click on the flash card to download it.