Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Thompson honored by Conservation Coalition

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Thompson (D-First District) was honored this week with an award from the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) in recognition of his work as a steward of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Thompson joined Reps. Michael Castle (R-DE), Norman D. Dicks (D-WA), Ron J. Kind (D-WI), Jim Saxton (R-NJ) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) in being recognized for their efforts to protect – and adequately fund – the refuge system.

The awards were presented at a Capitol Hill reception on Wednesday sponsored by CARE and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and marked the 10th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997.

The landmark legislation laid the framework for a system that today includes 548 refuges representing nearly 100 million acres of the most visually stunning and biologically diverse lands and waters in the U.S. With at least one refuge in every state, the system attracts some 40 million visitors each year.

Thompson was recognized for the hard work he has put into securing funding for refuges both inside and outside his district, and his strong backing of fully functional North Coast ecosystems that include the rivers and streams necessary to help sustain healthy fisheries.

“On behalf of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the California Department of Fish and Game and all our partners in the San Pablo Bay, we want to thank Congressman Thompson for his support of funding year after year,” San Pablo’s Refuge Manager Christy Smith said. “We also are thankful for the $40 million bill included in Water Resources Development Act for San Pablo Bay Watershed restoration. The Congressman’s attention to land and conservation issues doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Thompson also was recognized for his demonstrated commitment to protecting these biologically diverse wild spots by helping to form the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus and serving as one of its vice chairs.

"The National Wildlife Refuge system is a destination point for people to enjoy our nation’s diverse fish and wildlife and brings more than $700 million into local economies," Thompson said. "However, unless we address the System’s nearly $3 billion operations and maintenance backlog, we risk losing the cornerstone of our country’s public lands. I am very grateful for this award and look forward to working with CARE on this very important issue."

The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act mandates a “wildlife first” conservation philosophy, and the system’s refuges are home to more than 700 bird species, 220 mammals, and 260 endangered or threatened species. While protecting wildlife is the primary mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the system offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities, including wildlife photography and observation, hunting and fishing, environmental education and interpretation. The system generates some $1.4 billion in annual revenues.

“The Refuge System faces a budget crisis of extraordinary proportions,” said Evan Hirsche, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and chair of the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement. “We're grateful to have Congressman Thompson leading the charge for a healthy and vital Refuge System. With his vision, our American wildlife heritage has a fighting chance.”

Working in partnership since 1995, CARE consists of 22 wildlife, sporting, conservation and scientific groups dedicated to educating Congress and the American public about the Refuge System. Recognizing the value of a healthy system for the wildlife and habitat refuges seek to protect, CARE works to represent the five million national constituents of its member organizations by securing strong investments in these remarkable lands and waters.

For more information about CARE visit www.refugenet.org/CARE/CareHome.html.

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