resources for promoting the interest of Friends and refuges with the community and with decision-makers

Friends Insights on Refuge/Hatchery Systems Funding Crisis

  • Post category:Advocacy
  • Reading time:2 mins read

Earlier this year the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA) with the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) hosted three-sharing sessions. The goal of the sessions was to bring Refuge and Hatchery Friends organizations together virtually to share information regarding the impacts of inadequate funding and reduced staffing. 73 Participants from across the country attended the three-sharing sessions.

Friends members shared their observations, examples, and stories about the impacts insufficient budgets are having on their refuge and hatchery partners, their organizations, and communities. The comments of the participants were compiled and general themes emerged. A white paper with the findings from the sharing-sessions is housed in CORFA Resource Center. The themes that emerged from the sharing-sessions are being used to help Friends organizations build messages to local, regional, and national representatives to make them aware of the need for adequate funding and staffing for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs.

On behalf of CORFA, I want to thank Sue Wilder for organizing the sharing-sessions and composing the white paper. We all want to express our appreciation to all the Friends that participated in the sessions and were so willing to share their observations and experiences.

Continue ReadingFriends Insights on Refuge/Hatchery Systems Funding Crisis

Why Refuges/Hatcheries Matter: Crafting your Message

  • Post category:Advocacy
  • Reading time:1 mins read
young boy looking at a snake

Friends, CORFA, and NWRA held their first of a series of webinars on April 12th on how to craft effective messages about the refuge and hatchery systems’ funding crisis. In this webinar, recently shared stories of staffing impacts were reviewed towards building messages to gain support for refuge and hatchery. The recording of this webinar and support materials are now in this website’s Resource Center, Webnars by CORFA/NWRA, Advocacy Webinars.

In the upcoming months, webinars will focus on how to develop and distribute messages using a variety of traditional templates as well as social media and visual aids to help make messaging more impactful.

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Addressing The Refuge Staffing Crisis

  • Post category:Advocacy
  • Reading time:2 mins read

Thursday, March 30th at 2 – 3:00 PM ET

The National Wildlife Refuge System, the nation’s largest network of lands and waters dedicated to wildlife conservation, is facing a staffing crisis that threatens its ability to protect biodiversity and provide recreational opportunities for all. Despite being essential for protecting endangered species, conserving habitats, and connecting communities with nature, the Refuge System has lost over 800 permanent positions since fiscal year 2011, resulting in an enormous 25% loss in capacity.

In response to this dire situation, the National Wildlife Refuge Association is focusing its efforts in the 118th Congress to raise awareness of this issue and secure the necessary funds to sufficiently staff the Refuge System.

Join Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy, Libby Marking, on March 30th for a conversation about the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s Refuge Staffing Campaign.

Sign Up!

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Ask Congress to Increase Refuge System Funding!

  • Post category:Advocacy
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Testimony For The House of Representatives Appropriations is due next Friday, March 17th, by 5 pm ET

The National Wildlife Refuge System encompasses more than 850 million acres of lands and waters across America’s 568 National Wildlife Refuges, including 5 Marine National Monuments. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to fulfill its obligation to the Refuge System’s 59 million annual visitors and diverse wildlife on a budget of a mere 59¢ per acre.

As Congress begins the appropriations process for fiscal year (FY) 2024, it is important that those who love the Refuge System let them know how critical increased funding is for refuge funding in FY2024. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies has called for written public witness testimony on the budget to be submitted by next Friday, March 17, 2023 by 5 pm ET. This is an opportunity for Refuge Friends organizations and individuals to tell the Subcommittee about the funding needs and lack of staffing of the Refuge System. Please take part in this process to ask that they fund the National Wildlife Refuge System’s Operations and Maintenance fund at $1.5 billion in FY2024 appropriations.

To help you through this process, the National Wildlife Refuge Association has drafted sample testimony and provided instructions for providing the testimony to the Subcommittee. Please note that a Witness Disclosure Form and an attached resume/cv must also be included with your testimony.

Resources For Testimony

Thank you for supporting the National Wildlife Refuge System,

Libby Marking
Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy
National Wildlife Refuge Association

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Relationships Help Determine Federal Priorities

  • Post category:Advocacy
  • Reading time:7 mins read

Authors: Joan Patterson, Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates, and Kenneth Kupchak, Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR

To celebrate our youngest daughter’s third birthday, we planted three trees at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge outside of Portland, OR. It was a wonderful day filled with laughter and mud from head to toes. Decades have passed and we now live on the other side of the country. Yet, whenever we visit the refuge, we look for our trees and we smile. We’re proud of our small contributions and want to share the magic of this place and the communities who support it.

You know that sense of pride and ownership of your refuge or hatchery!

Kenneth and Patty Kupchak with the Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR located on the slope of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii, have spent decades working with others to restore the beautiful endangered native forest. “Their Trees” now provide critical nesting and foraging habitat for endangered species, including the Akiapolaau.


I bet all of you have similar stories. We need to share these stories—tell our neighbors, friends, communities, and elected officials why these places matter to us!

It was because of citizens sharing their stories that the Refuge System was created. By raising our voices and showing our love for these places, we will ensure that refuges and hatcheries continue to exist. 

“In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum

Our stories have the greatest impact on those folks we have relationships with, and that includes members of our communities and elected officials. Since we support federal lands, we need to develop and maintain relationships with our Members of Congress (MOC). Why? When MOC are working on the budget and struggling to set our nation’s priorities, they are more likely to make the refuge and hatchery systems priorities if they have information from people with whom they have a good relationship.


Members of Congress are social animals and relationships are important to them. Building these relationships takes time and attention. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to start this work.


  • If possible, identify someone who already has a relationship with the MOC.
  • Get to know their legislative record, and if they’re new, then look for that first major newspaper profile of them. Check out their social media and website.
  • Determine where their values and interests intersect with yours.
  • Get to know what they need; listen to them.
  • Get to know their staffers. New MOC tend to hire district or state staffers first and then hire the Washington, DC, staff.
  • Offer to do something for them like:
    • Invite them and/or their staffers to visit your site.
    • Give them an opportunity to speak to their constituents in a friendly setting.
    • Photograph them at your site and share the photo.
  • Educate them about:
    • How your Friends group is impacting their district/state.
    • The refuge and/or hatchery systems.
    • The unique aspects of the refuge or hatchery jewel within their district or state.
  • Stay in regular contact with their staff. Share your newsletter, send them a quarterly brief, etc.
  • Form a Government Relations Committee so you can focus on cultivating these relationships.
    • Develop broad policy guidelines designed to enable the Committee to communicate on a fairly continuous, real-time basis with the MOC’s offices.

Friends, you are constructive, value-added constituents! When an issue important to your refuge or hatchery arises, it is a rare congressional office that does not want to help. After all, the site is in their district or state and may allow your MOC to be instrumental in bringing home a solution.

Remember, there are a lot of advocacy resources on the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates website. Watch for communications from NWRA and CORFA about upcoming webinars and sharing sessions on storytelling and the FY2024 advocacy campaign.

This process of building relationships can be fun and rewarding. We’ll share one more story with you. A number of years ago the project leader at my local refuge retired and there was no indication that he would be replaced. Well, one of the advantages of living close to Washington, DC, is that it’s easy to attend Congressional hearings. I attended a budget hearing for the USFWS, and at that time my Congressman was the ranking member on the committee for House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. His legislative director and I had a good working relationship, and he came over to ask what we needed. During the hearing, the Director of USFWS was asked when the Congressman’s refuge project leader would be replaced. The complex got a new project leader.

Relationships matter!

Continue ReadingRelationships Help Determine Federal Priorities