Defenders Praises New Funding for Katrina-Damaged Refuges

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Congress Passes Emergency Supplemental Bill Bestowing $132 Million for Hurricane-damaged Refuges

(6/14/2006) - Washington, DC – Defenders of Wildlife hailed Congress' inclusion of $132.4 million in the supplemental budget for refuges damaged by hurricanes last year. Following is a statement by Noah Matson, director of Federal Lands at Defenders of Wildlife.

"Over sixty national wildlife refuges were in the paths of last year's devastating hurricanes. These refuges protect vital wetlands, often serving as buffers to storm surges, and providing habitat to countless species including millions of wintering ducks, geese, and other migratory birds. These refuges are also center pieces of regional outdoor tourism-based economies

"The emergency funding passed by Congress will allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to begin repairing, cleaning and restoring these refuges. The damage leveled by hurricanes on national wildlife refuges reached almost two-thirds of the entire refuge system budget. Without these funds, the already financially strapped refuge system would have had to divert funds from across the country to ensure that facilities were repaired and visitors were safe on refuges in the Gulf Coast.

"Some of the refuges hit by the hurricanes are still closed, others only have limited access. This money will go a long way in getting these refuges back on track and open for the public's full enjoyment.

"These funds will go toward cleaning up hazardous waste, debris and pollution. We're happy to learn these special places will be restored and returned to their natural states where people can enjoy them for years to come and wildlife can return to these special places we have set aside for them."

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Defenders of Wildlife is recognized as one of the nation's most progressive advocates for wildlife and its habitat. With more than 490,000 members and supporters, Defenders of Wildlife is an effective leader on endangered species issues.

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Contact(s):

Deborah Bagocius, 202-772-0239

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