The Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) is a national coalition of 22 wildlife, sporting, conservation, and scientific organizations. Together, these organizations represent a national constituency numbering more than 15 million Americans. Working together, and with the support of more than 230 refuge Friends groups, CARE educates Congress, the Administration and the public about the National Wildlife Refuge System.
CARE has just published their “Fiscal Cliff Dwellers: America’s Wildlife Refuges on the Edge” , which looks at the impact of a 10% budget cut to the National Wildlife Refuge System leading to:
- closed refuges and visitor centers
- a reduction of fishing and hunting opportunities
- elimination of much needed volunteer positions
- economic revenue lost by local communities
- increased poaching and vandalism
- the return of invasive species
- a reduction of fire management
- and delayed recovery after hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) urges Congress to abandon Sequestration and, instead, fully fund the National Wildlife Refuge System. Sequestration could cut the Refuge System’s budget by nearly 10%, but coupled with an additional annual appropriation cut, the overall impact could be as much as 20%. The National Wildlife Refuge System is not a bloated bureaucracy that can absorb such cuts — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the 150-million-acre System on a shoestring budget of only $3.24 per acre. Further, refuges rely on the support of their Friends groups and volunteers, who perform 20% of all work done throughout the Refuge System.
But it’s not just about wildlife and the loss of a volunteer corps; the impact of the Refuge System going over the Fiscal Cliff could harm local economies just now emerging from the Great Recession. Approximately 45 million wildlife enthusiasts visit refuges each year, including hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers, generating an economic contribution of over $4.2 billion and nearly 35,000 jobs.1 Economists estimate that each 1 percent reduction in refuge visitation would cut $16.9 million from local economies.
Be sure to read the “Fiscal Cliff Dwellers: America’s Wildlife Refuges on the Edge” for more information.