Snail Kite

Your comments and recommendations will help the Refuge System shape a vision that allows for the long-term protection of Everglades snail kites and other endangered species (Image: Dean Fleischman).

Although the Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation vision process continues on into July 2011, this Earth Day (April 22) marked the closing of the 60-day public comment period for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s draft document offering a 10-year vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

A very big thank you to Service employees, Friends, partners and concerned citizens for sharing your response to the draft document and giving your vision for the future of wildlife conservation and the Refuge System. We have no way of counting the number of conversations about the draft vision that took place across the country. We are happy to report, however, that to date more than 23,380 visitors have gone to website, generating over 11,000 comments and bold ideas.

The Refuge System is sure to benefit from the careful consideration and active involvement of so many enthusiastic supporters. With the close of the comment period, the Service launched its comprehensive review and analysis of all submitted comments and bold ideas. The observations and suggestions you provided will help inform a revised Refuge System vision document, which will be posted on in mid-June for consideration and adoption in July.

Meanwhile, your vital role in shaping the future of the National Wildlife Refuge System continues, and the website provides several ways for you to be involved in the process. Join the on-line book club, Wild Read. Help promote the on-line greening initiatives. Promote the youth multi-media contest. Carry on a dialogue about protecting wildlife and their habitat. Equally important, get the latest updates about the Conserving the Future conference July 11-14 and how you can register for the on-line conference activities.

We need your involvement in ratifying a vision document, and soon we’ll be asking your ideas for implementation of the vision!

Evan Hirsche, President, National Wildlife Refuge Association