Runyan, Sablan Introduce Legislation to Facilitate Volunteers at National Wildlife Refuges
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jon Runyan (NJ-3) and Congressman Gregorio Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands) announced the introduction of HR. 1300, legislation to reauthorize the National Wildlife Refuge System Volunteer, Community Partnership, and Education Programs Act through 2018. This legislation is critical to facilitating volunteer programs at National Wildlife Refuges. In 2011 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had 46,800 volunteers that contributed 1,718,369 hours of work valued at over $36 million. The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey received over 14,000 volunteer hours in 2012 equivalent to almost seven full time employees.
Rep. Runyan made the following statement regarding the legislation, “Volunteers are the life blood of our Wildlife Refuge System. Without their invaluable contributions in communities nationwide, we would be unable to maintain and operate these important refuges,” stated Runyan. “The volunteer contributions at the Forsythe Refuge, in my district, are a shining example of why this legislation is necessary and needs to be reauthorized as soon as possible.”
Rep. Gregorio Sablan made the following statement, “With federal budgets tight we have to find other resources to maintain and operate our nation’s 553 national wildlife refuges. Volunteers help fill that gap; and the legislation Rep. Runyan and I are introducing will help increase opportunities for volunteers. As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs, I look forward to working with Rep. Runyan to get H.R. 1300 enacted; and I thank all those hard-working volunteers who already are making an important difference caring for these beautiful places.”
The Act’s current authorization expires in 2014. This bill would extend the authorization through 2018. Volunteerism at refuges has grown dramatically over the past several decades. In 1982 the Refuge System Volunteer Program had 4,251 volunteers compared to the 46,800 volunteers in 2011.