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.

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Sign On Letter to the Service about OIG Report

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

landscape with yellow foliageLast month, the Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued their report on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Friends Program. The report details changes that the OIG believes need to be made to the Friends program. The Director of the Service, Aurelia Skipwith, concurred with the recommendations and the Service started implementing corrective actions before the report was made public.

The Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA) and the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) want to thank all the refuge and hatchery Friends groups that provide us with comments on the report and the Service’s response. We have taken those comments and put together the in this letter to be sent to Director Skipwith.

We hope every refuge and hatchery Friends group (not individual Friends) will sign on to the letter to let the Service know that the Friends community wants to work with them to strengthen the Friends program. One of our objectives is to express our concerns with some of the OIG recommendations and the Service’s corrective actions. Our primary goal is to work with the Service, Friends, NWRA, CORFA and the Public Lands Alliance (PLA) to implement changes that will strengthen the partnership.

Please follow this link to the letter and then the sign on form. The deadline for sign-ons will be 5pm eastern Friday, October 30th. If you have questions contact us at http://coalitionofrefugefriends.com/contact/.

Continue ReadingSign On Letter to the Service about OIG Report

Ensuring Independence for a Strong Partnership

  • Post category:USFWS Policies
  • Reading time:2 mins read

The Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General has completed their audit of the Refuge Friends program, and released their final report. The Refuge Association and the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates have responded to this report with a letter to Interior Secretary Bernhardt expresses our dismay at the report.

volunteers after a clean up on a national wildlife refugeWe believe that Friends groups and volunteers are an enormous resource for the refuge and hatcheries systems. These community volunteers are dedicated to their local site and are scrupulously devoted to ensuring their activities benefit their site and the refuge and hatchery systems as a whole. They provide support by getting children out on a refuge to explore puddles, buying toilet paper, and raising funds for visitor centers. The implication that they are unable to operate under the laws of the State in which they are registered as a 501(c)(3) is insulting. Friends groups are being denigrated in the press by an under-researched and inaccurate report. 

Portions of the report imply that Friends are using donations inappropriately. The report does not recognize that Friends are independent organizations that must raise funds to support their operations and not all funds are raised on Service-managed property. Friends need to use funds, even those generated on site, for expenditures such as salaries and liability insurance that are required to operate nature stores. The report incorrectly assumes that all revenues generated by Friends must be used exclusively for the benefit of that refuge or hatchery. This stipulation only applies to net revenues generated on Service-managed property.

Click on the links to read the entire OIG report at and read our response letter

Continue ReadingEnsuring Independence for a Strong Partnership