Defenders of Wildlife Congratulates Newly Formed Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus

Statement by Jaime Rappaport Clark, Executive Vice Presidentof Defenders of Wildlife at Caucus Launch

(9/14/2006) - Washington, D.C -- Following is a statement Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife, gave on the launch and formation of the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus.

"Defenders of Wildlife wishes to congratulate and acknowledge the Members who have joined the Wildlife Refuge Caucus. We are confident that this newly formed caucus will reinvigorate the interest and support that is needed to maintain the refuges system's integrity so it can continue to meet its critical wildlife conservation mission.

"As these Members know, Teddy Roosevelt made a promise with the establishment of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a promise to the American people that we would protect our nation’s natural heritage for future generations. The National Wildlife Refuge System is a central part of that promise.

"Refuges provide some of the last and most important strongholds of wildlife habitat in this country. And since its founding, the Refuge System has grown to encompass arctic tundra and tropical islands, to house the 1000-pound polar bear and the 1-ounce shrew, and to provide stepping stones for millions of migratory birds.

Throughout its history, the Refuge System has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress. Almost ten years ago, Congress strengthened the Refuge System with the overwhelming passage of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act. The Refuge Caucus continues this bipartisan tradition and provides a strong voice for refuges in the halls of Congress.

"The formation of the Caucus couldn’t have come at a better time. Faced with a flattened budget and increased costs, in seven years 98% of the refuges in the northeast will be bankrupt. Already, the budget crunch is forcing the Fish and Wildlife Service to de-staff entire refuges, and cut visitor services and habitat management at scores of refuges. That affects wildlife and habitat, and the special natural places all Americans enjoy.

"This is not the Refuge System Teddy Roosevelt envisioned. This is not the Refuge System we want to leave for our children.

"Our hope is that with the formation of the Refuge Caucus we can all work together to make sure the Refuge System is able to fulfill its promise to the American people."


Defenders of Wildlife is a member of the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement, or CARE --  a broad coalition of 21 diverse wildlife, sporting, conservation, and scientific organizations that represent a national constituency numbering more than 5 million, Recognizing the value of a healthy Refuge System to both the wildlife and habitats refuges were established to protect, CARE, highlights the needs of national wildlife refuges and works to secure strong investments in these remarkable lands and waters.



William Lutz, (202) 772-0269