USFWS guidelines that impact the actions of Friends organizations

PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE FEDERAL DUCK STAMP

  • Post category:USFWS Policies
  • Reading time:5 mins read
2021-2022 Federal Duck Stamp image

In June of 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to revise regulations governing the annual Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp) Contest to remove changes made in 2020.

Your comments are welcome, both on behalf of your Friends organizations, and as private citizens. The proposed rule is open for public comments until July 23, 2021.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicates in their press release “This proposed rule would remove the permanent “celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage” theme and the mandatory inclusion of an appropriate hunting element beginning with the 2022 contest; revise the judging requirements to consider that the entries reflect this theme; and revisit the qualifications for selection as a judge. Since the implementation of the 2020 final regulations, many stakeholders have continued to express their dissatisfaction with this element being a requirement for all entries.”

BACKGROUND:
The Federal Duck Stamp program began during the era of the Depression and Dust Bowl as a way to curb the widespread destruction of wetland habitats that were vital to the survival of America’s waterfowl.

In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act (or “Duck Stamp Act”). The Duck Stamp Act requires anyone 16 or older to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp for waterfowl hunting. However, you don’t have to be a waterfowl hunter to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp. Anyone who values wildlife and the habitats they depend on can help conserve habitat by purchasing a Federal Duck Stamp. This includes members of Refuge Friends groups, birders, wildlife photographers, and others.

Given the mandatory licensing requirement for waterfowl hunters over the age of 16, waterfowl hunters have been the primary group responsible for raising over $1.1 billion to conserve wildlife and healthy wetland habitats within the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The theme of this year’s Federal Duck Stamp is “Celebrating our Waterfowl Hunting Heritage.” An image of a drake Lesser Scaup with a lanyard and duck calls won the 2020 contest. The 2021 contest regulations with the mandatory inclusion of hunting references remains in effect.

U.S. FWS has proposed a new rule scrapping the hunting requirement that would be applicable beginning with the 2022 contest.

HOW TO COMMENT:
The proposed rule is OPEN FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS UNTIL JULY 23, 2021. All comments must be submitted through the process described in the proposed rule – if they are submitted any other way, they cannot be incorporated or considered. You can access the proposed rule and/or comment, via the Federal Register: https://www.regulations.gov/docu…/FWS-HQ-MB-2021-0048-0001 . Or you can use this link: https://tinyurl.com/duck-stamp-rules-rollback . Or you can search for the rule at www.regulations.gov using any of these search terms:

  • FWS-HQ-MB-2021-0048
  • Revision of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp) Contest Regulations June 23, 2021
  • 2021-013476

Ahead of entering your final comments, we recommend that you create your letter, ready to cut and paste to the portal. You can comment on the rule via the portal described above, or by postal mail. U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-HQ-MB-2021-0048, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: JAO/3W, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

The Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp have provided additional information about this change, including talking points, and a sample letter. You’ll also find more information there about this year’s Stamp, links, and more Stamp history.

Continue ReadingPROPOSED CHANGES TO THE FEDERAL DUCK STAMP

FWS Draft Friends Policy for Review

  • Post category:USFWS Policies
  • Reading time:4 mins read

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is in the process of updating the Friends policy including the Friends Partnership Agreement. To date, FWS drafted initial revisions to the 2014 policy. Those revisions were shared with FWS staff through an internal review process and their comments were incorporated in the second draft of the policy.

Friends, as the key partner of FWS, your input is now needed on the second draft of the Friends policy. The policy will impact your organization therefore your comments are vital.

FWS 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. The documentation includes:

  • The four chapters of the policy and for each chapter there is a “clean” and redline version
  • Two exhibits:
    • New exhibit on financial reporting
    • Friends Partnership Agreement with a “clean” and redline version.

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

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

The deadline for comments is Monday, February 8, 2021

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

More information on submitting comments are available at:

Continue ReadingFWS Draft Friends Policy for Review

Discussion of Document Collection & Friends Policy

  • Post category:USFWS Policies
  • Reading time:3 mins read
fog rising from a wetland

The National Wildlife Refuge Association and Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates hosted a discussion with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on the Federal Register notice about collecting information from Friends groups and updating of the Friends policy on January 5, 2021.

One component of updating the USFWS’ Friends Policy is ensuring that the USFWS has approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to collect information from Friends groups. While the updated policy will describe what information the USFWS may collect, this process ensures we have the approval to do so. The two processes are occurring simultaneously.

Obtaining OMB approval is a public process that requires input from those affected by the information collection. The proposed information collection was announced in a Federal Register notice and comments were accepted through January 8, 2021.

USFWS discussed:

  • Why the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval is needed,
  • What types of information collections are proposed,
  • The overall process,
  • How to comment on the proposal,
  • History of the Friends policy (how we got to where we are),
  • Broad changes addressed in the draft policy, and
  • How USFWS will distribute the draft policy and how to comment

Here is a recording of the webinar and supporting materials. 

We thank Linda Schnee, National Friends Coordinator and Maggie O’Connell, Branch Chief for Visitor Services of National Wildlife Refuge System for participating in the call.

Continue ReadingDiscussion of Document Collection & Friends Policy

Submit Comments on Federal Register Notice

  • Post category:USFWS Policies
  • Reading time:6 mins read
owl

Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA) and the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) urge Friends to respond to the notice in the Federal Register about collecting documentation from their organizations. Friends input is necessary to guide the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the collection of information in support of our mutual goals and objectives. They may also influence revisions to the Friends policy and Friends Partnership Agreement (FPA).

These revisions would be the result of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit report of the USFWS Friends program. A finding of the OIG implies that FWS does not know if Friends are using donations appropriately. FWS agreed to take corrective actions to improve oversight of the program. These actions will include revising the policy and FPA to:

  • Establish accountability with respect to donations, revenues, and expenditures to ensure they benefit the applicable refuge or hatchery;
  • Require Friends to provide an annual performance report including donations, revenues, and expenditures, and
  • Periodically review the FPA and evidence of nonprofit status.

The revisions to the policies and FPA have the potential of impacting Friends organization’s practices and procedures.

Please review the notice in the Federal Register and craft comments that:

  • Reflect your understanding of the documentation FWS is requesting,
  • List documentation Friends can provide FWS to assure them that funds raised for the benefit of your site are being properly accounted for,
  • Indicate how Friends would document the value to your refuge/hatchery of your programs and activities,
  • Assess the accuracy of FWS’ estimate of the time it will take to collect the documentation,
  • Describe ways to enhance the quality of the information, and
  • Suggest how to minimize the burden of providing the information.

The CORFA and NWRA have drafted comments to submit and Friends are welcome to review and borrow them. We do, however, want any comments submitted by Friends groups and members to be unique and particular to your specific refuge or hatchery—comments submitted through Federal Register requests are ore highly ranked if they are not the same as the other comments.

The deadline to comment is January 8, 2021.

Reference OMB Control Number “1018-Friends” in the subject line of your comments. The easiest and most direct way to submit your comments is to email comments directly to: Info_Coll@fws.gov

You can also mail your comments to the Service Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB (JAO/3W), 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803 (mail)

*There is a direct link to submit comments in the Federal Register announcement, but this link does NOT work.*

We urge Friends groups and members of their board to submit comments. Every Friends group, FWS site, and partnership in the Friends community is unique. Your comments need to represent your unique circumstance. FWS wants to hear from you!

Regards,
Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates
National Wildlife Refuge Association

P.S. Should you need any assistance contact Caroline Brouwer, NWRA, or Joan Patterson, CORFA. If you want to share your comments with the Friends community, please send them to Joan and they will be posted on the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates website.

Comments Submitted by Friends:
Willem Stoeller, TRNWR






Continue ReadingSubmit Comments on Federal Register Notice