Chat with the Chief

  • Post category:News
  • Reading time:1 mins read
coyote on a dirt road

On March 17, 2021, Cynthia Martinez, Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, provided an update on incoming USFWS and Department of the Interior leadership and how the Refuge System fits into the Biden Administration’s priorities.

Below are links to the recording and the Conserving the Future document.
Webinar Recording,
Conserving the Future,

We would like to thank Cynthia Martinez for presenting and for the inspiring work she does on behalf of our national wildlife refuges.

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The Link — Winter 2021 Newsletter

  • Post category:News
  • Reading time:5 mins read

The Link is a quarterly newsletter produced in coordination between the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Coalition of Refuge Friends & Advocates.

Letter from Caroline Brouwer, VP of Government Affairs, NWRA:

The Friends stories included in this edition of The Link are truly inspiring. It is difficult to believe that we are coming up on almost a full year of closed Visitor Centers and canceled events. Yet we have persevered and created communities that perhaps would have remained unfound without the trials of Zoom and social distancing. Many national wildlife refuges have seen visitor numbers skyrocket, with folks desperate to escape the mundanity of their homes.

Yet we cannot forget the many Americans who have been sickened or killed by this virus. I hope that your local refuge has been a place of peace for you during this time. 

At the National Wildlife Refuge Association, we have spent the last year working hard to maintain the integrity of the National Wildlife Refuge System and defending the incredible gains made over the life of the Refuge System. Now, as we march forward into the Biden Administration, we anticipate increased protections for vulnerable national wildlife refuges and expansion of land and ocean refuge units. And of course, we will fight tooth and nail to increase funding. We hope to be able to travel to your refuge this year, and to visit with many of you in person! 

Thank you for all that you do for the Refuge System, and for all your advocacy on behalf of your local refuge and the entire National Wildlfie Refuge System!

Caroline Brouwer
Vice President of Government Affairs
National Wildlife Refuge Association

Friends, Your Comments Are Needed! 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is in the process of updating the Friends policy including the Friends Partnership Agreement.

Friends, as the key partner of USFWS, your input is now needed on the second draft of the Friends policy. The policy will impact your organization therefore your comments are vital. USFWS has provided the “clean” second draft of the policy and a redline version that shows the changes to the policy that was released in 2014. 

All of these documents are on the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA) Google drive and website. Please review them.

To help USFWS with the collection and review of your comments they are providing a form for you to submit comments. To ensure that USFWS will see every comment they request that you fill out a separate form for each comment.

The deadline for comments is Monday, February 8, 2021

Please provide USFWS with your comments on the policy and Agreement because they will help shape the partnership between the Friends and USFWS.

Refuge Friends Stories From Across The Country

Had anyone asked us in late 2019 about our plans and expectations for the coming year, few of us would have predicted or even been able to imagine what lay ahead. Since COVID-19 emerged early in 2020, we’ve experienced so many disappointments and personal losses that we’ve probably lost count. However, resilient as we must be, we have mourned, adjusted, rearranged, postponed, canceled, pondered, and reimagined—likely several times. The same can be said of refuge and hatchery Friends as they changed course during the year to stay positive, stay afloat, and succeed despite facing challenges as novel as the virus itself. This issue is dedicated to celebrating those many Friends who support refuges and hatcheries nationwide. We hope you’ll enjoy and even be inspired by the following stories shared by some of them. Here’s to health, happiness, and success to you all in 2021!

-Sue Hix, Editor

Read Refuge Friends’ Stories!*

The Winter 2021 version of The Link has been a coordinated effort between the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Coalition of Refuge Friends & Advocates. 

To receive the next issue of The Link, complete the form at the bottom of this page And please add to the safe list for your email account.

You’re invited to join the CORFA Facebook group, a place to connect with other amazing members of the Friends community to share information, insights, and experiences concerning nonprofit governance, management, and advocacy. Go to and request to join this private group.

  • Sue Hix (Editor) – Friends of Sherburne NWR
  • Joan Patterson (Co-editor)—Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates 
  • Caroline Brouwer—NWRA VP of Government Affairs 
  • Eden Taylor (designer)— NWRA Communications Associate 
  • Friends Editorial Staff: Cheryl Hart—NWRA Board, Board member of Friends of Tualatin River NWR 
  • Kathy Woodward—Former NWRA Board Member, Board member of Friends of Great Swamp NWR 
  • Jim Stone– NWRA Board, Board member of Friends of the Wichitas

*Articles are hosted on the NWRA website, just follow any of the links above to access them all.

Continue Reading The Link — Winter 2021 Newsletter

A Little Nudge to Cheer on the 2020 Friends Group

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  • Reading time:1 mins read

2020 refuge awards for refuge manager, refuge employee, refuge volunteer and Friends group
Photo credit: NWRA

The National Wildlife Refuge Association’s 2020 Refuge Award Dinner is going virtual. Everyone is invited to attend this event on Thursday, October 22 nd, 7 to 8 PM EST. The awards honor the outstanding accomplishments by refuge managers, refuge employees, volunteers, and Friends groups.

This year, the Refuge Association is having a Friends Group competition. The winner will receive:

  • One hour of advocacy consulting from NWRA during a board meeting,
  • One hour of fundraising consulting from NWRA during a board meeting,
  • And one video highlighting your Friends Group!

To learn more about the competition and to register for the event go to

Continue Reading A Little Nudge to Cheer on the 2020 Friends Group

The Link — Fall 2020 Newsletter

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

The Link is a quarterly newsletter produced in coordination between the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Coalition of Refuge Friends & Advocates.

Letter from Caroline Brouwer, VP of Government Affairs, NWRA:

As you are reading this, refuge staff are wrapping up their work under the current fiscal year (FY 2020) and beginning to implement their plans for this next year of work (FY 2021). Most visitor centers remain closed due to COVID-19, yet visitors are flocking to refuges to recreate, bird watch, hunt waterfowl, and get outside. Last year, over 59 million people visited wildlife refuges, and I’m sure that number is up dramatically due to the lockdowns.

Here in Washington, DC, Congress will be in recess the entire month of October to campaign in their states and districts before the election on November 3. Not only is this year a presidential election, but all members of Congress are on the ballot and 33 Senators are up for re-election. Please remember to get out and vote either by absentee/mail-in ballot or in person!

This year has seen some enormous successes for wildlife refuges. With your help, and the help of many partners, we got the Great American Outdoors Act passed. This act provides full and dedicated funding for land acquisition through the Land and Water Conservation Fund plus Refuge System backlog funding of $475 million over 5 years. This bill is one of the greatest conservation accomplishments in many years, and we appreciate all your help in getting it across the finish line!

Refuge Friends continue to be a critical part of the work we do. Last year, 56 Friends groups donated to the Refuge Association. As you know, a nonprofit is constantly fundraising, so we appreciate your support! We held our first quarterly Friends call on September 16 and are planning our second call in December 2020. Stayed tuned for a date and time! In February, we will be asking Friends groups to submit testimony to Congress on the state of their refuge—we need all of your voices to be heard!

I hope everyone is enjoying the fall weather!

Articles in the fall edition of The Link*

A Budget – All Friends Should Have One
Budget—it’s not always a favorite task but is one that Friends boards are responsible to undertake on a regular basis. Creating a budget and regularly reviewing it allows members, donors, prospects, and grant-makers to review your strategic priorities and gauge the health of your organization.

So You’ll Be Meeting with a Donor
Regardless of your Friends organization’s fiscal year-end, you will likely want to solicit donations as 2020 draws to a close. Why focus on year-end campaigns?

Creative Fundraising – Virtual and Otherwise
Successful organizations, including refuge Friends, must be nimble and able to pivot should circumstances require them to adjust to new or unexpected circumstances. We are pleased to share some ideas that are allowing Friends to continue raising funds, pay their bills, and support refuge projects as the pandemic continues.

*Articles are hosted on the NWRA website, just follow any of the article links above to access them all.

Continue Reading The Link — Fall 2020 Newsletter

Duck Stamps Conserve Wildlife Habitat

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  • Reading time:3 mins read

Buying a Federal Duck Stamp (Stamp) is one of the most effective ways you can conserve wildlife. Approximately 98% of the $25 Stamp directly funds land acquisition and easements that provide critical habitat for wildlife. These lands are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System and you can access many of them!

At the turn of the 20th century, America’s wildlife was under immediate threats. Market shooting to supply restaurants; bounty hunting and unregulated sport hunting; and feather-collecting for the fashion industry contributed to the loss of millions of birds and other wildlife. Additionally, millions of acres of wetlands were drained for agriculture and development, greatly reducing waterfowl nesting habitat

By the 1930s, America had entered the Great Depression and many in the Great Plains regions suffered the added economic and ecological effects of the Dust Bowl. During this time President Herbert Hoover signed the Migratory Bird Conservation Act in 1929 to authorize the acquisition and preservation of wetlands as waterfowl habitat. Unfortunately, the law did not provide a permanent funding source to purchase and preserve these wetlands. In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act (or “Duck Stamp Act”), which did!

The Duck Stamp Act requires anyone 16 or older to purchase a Stamp for waterfowl hunting. But you don’t have to be a waterfowl hunter to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp! If you care about wildlife and habitats they depend on, help conserve these critical lands by purchasing a Federal Duck Stamp!

Artists and stamp collectors are important stakeholders of the Stamp. In 1949, the first Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest was held. Today, 71 years later, the tradition of hosting a government-sponsored nationwide contest continues. In 1989, Junior Duck Stamp Program was initiated to encourage education and participation for students Kindergarten through 12th-grade nationwide! Junior Duck Stamps are available for purchase for $5.

In addition to serving as a license for waterfowl hunting, benefits for conservation, appeal to collectors and an opportunity for competing artists, the current Federal Duck Stamp also grants you free entrance into any National Wildlife Refuge that charges an entry fee!

Federal Duck Stamps are available online, in post offices, and in many sporting goods and large-scale retail stores that sell hunting and fishing licenses and equipment. Check your local refuge to see if they sell Federal Duck Stamps, as well. The Stamp is also available from Amplex Corporation, and if you are interested in selling Federal Duck Stamps, they are the organization to contact.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Fund announced that the 2020-2021 Federal and Junior Duck Stamps will be available for purchase on Friday, June 26. These Stamps will feature the winning artwork of Eddie LeRoy of Eufaula, Alabama, and 13-year-old Madison Grimm of South Dakota, winners of the 2020 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest and 2020 Junior Duck Stamp Contest, respectively. This year’s First Day of Sale ceremony planned for Spanish Fort, AL have been canceled.

Please be a part of this American tradition, and more importantly, be a part in conserving America’s future by purchasing a 2020-2021 Federal Duck Stamp.

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