Many people believe that nonprofit organizations are not allowed to advocate or lobby. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nonprofits like Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge Complex use advocacy, and on occasion lobbying, to help meet their mission of support for the refuge complex and the system of refuges across the nation. Friends are the Advocacy Champions of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Photo Credit: City of Tualatin
During the past year, Friends of Tualatin River NWR have been actively involved in monitoring and speaking out on both local and national concerns that impact our local refuge and the refuge system. At the local level, Friends and FWS Staff at the refuge and regional level have continued to monitor efforts to create a rock quarry on Tonquin Rd in Sherwood, just feet away from one of the few pristine units of our refuge. The Tonquin Road area was shaped by the Missoula floods about 15,000 years ago when an ice dam broke in western Montana and changed the land in the Northwest. Following public comment, the State requested further information from the owners. The deadline for that response is September 30, 2020. Friends will continue to work with FWS to document concerns regarding the negative impacts that a quarry in the proposed location can have on our refuge.
Monitoring the impacts of different land uses adjacent to or around the refuge are important to supporting our mission. As we strive to protect the natural, historical, and cultural, resources of the refuge we are also protecting them for your communities.
“Throughout my Service career, I was continually reminded of the value of friends and Friends organizations, and the important voice they give through advocacy (and yes, that includes “lobbying”) that career Service employees are restricted from doing. Friends are private citizens, and they have all the rights and privileges of citizenship, including the constitutional right to petition their government.”— Dan Ashe, Former Director of US Fish and Wildlife
Traditionally, August is a time for members of Congress to head home and work in their district or state. This year because of the need for a fifth coronavirus relief package, those plans are in turmoil.
When your legislators are in the district or state, it is a perfect time to get them out to your refuge or hatchery to thank them for the recent passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. The Act boosts funding to reduce the maintenance backlogs on public lands and fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a tool to conserve landscapes and invest in parks and outdoor recreation.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to discuss with your board and Service staff about inviting your members of Congress to your site. It’s an opportunity for you to show them why you give your time to your refuge/hatchery and why it is an asset to your community.
If you have never requested a meeting with your members of Congress then check out the advocacy webinars created by the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Coalition of Refuge Friends.
The second webinar in the advocacy series addresses how to make and prepare for a meeting with legislators. Friends, check out the weinar and if you have questions or need advice let us know.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s most majestic public lands, home to the Porcupine Caribou Herd, denning polar bears, musk oxen, wolves, and nearly 200 species of migratory birds. Its biological heart, the coastal plain, is no place for oil and gas development.
As goes that Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, could go any refuge. Joining the effort to protect the Arctic Refuge, in turn prepares refuge advocates to protect their local refuge. The National Wildlife Refuge Association is hosting a series of conversations designed to educate and engage refuge friends groups through an online discussion. Please join Kristen Berry for a one hour online discussion to learn how you can help.
We are offering several sessions that you and other refuge advocates can join in order to get the latest information and support in finding out the best ways you can contribute your voice to the effort to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. These will be small, intimate groups where you can ask questions and learn how you can join the fight.