Welcome to your National Wildlife Refuge System
114 years ago, President Roosevelt established the National Wildlife Refuge System, and this week we celebrate his vision as we celebrate National Wildlife Refuge System week.
President Theodore Roosevelt once said “Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us. Let me add that the health and vitality of our people are at least as well worth conserving as their forests, waters, lands, and minerals, and in this great work the national government must bear a most important part.”
This is an especially important national wildlife refuge week as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act. This landmark legislation gave us many things, but I think the most important was a mission for the National Wildlife Refuge System:
“…to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans. ”
Our mission is important. The National Wildlife Refuge System is the largest system of lands and waters in the world managed for wildlife. In the Northeast Region we have 78 refuges- each unique. From the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, to Moosehorn and Aroostook National Wildlife Refuges in Maine, to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Marine Monument 200 miles offshore which protects over 3,500,000 acres of rare marine habitats- the National Wildlife Refuge System is unique and diverse. These are incredibly important places for wildlife, and it’s because of this that they are equally special places for people.
I love that our mission makes it clear that we manage these places on behalf of the American people, and I am proud of our employees – who manage these lands as public servants as a public trust – bringing their passion, skill, and personal integrity to manage these special places and carrying out this important mission.
I hope you are able to find some time to get away this week and reflect on the wild places in this country, and how fortunate we are to have something as special as our National Wildlife Refuge System.