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National Wildlife Refuge Strategic Growth Plan

Draft Strategic Growth Policy for the National Wildlife Refuge System now available for public comment.

The comment period is now open through March 3, 2014.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to announce the release of the draft Strategic Growth Policy for the National Wildlife ducksRefuge System.  Information on the draft policy has been published in the Federal Register, and can be found at:   

To ensure consideration of comments, please follow the instructions on the Federal Register website.

For more information, and to view the draft Strategic Growth Policy, please visit:

Strategic Growth: Getting It Right

Spanning more than 150 million acres, the National Wildlife Refuge System is the nation’s largest and most diverse collection of public lands and water dedicated to wildlife conservation.  The Refuge System has a storied history of conserving iconic and critical habitats across America.

Today, faced with outsized challenges – from climate change and other environmental stressors to human demands on the environment – the Refuge System must prioritize and focus its strategic growth scope to ensure that lands and waters with the greatest conservation value are protected on behalf of the American people.

Is Acquisition Sustainable?

How the Refuge System has added lands in the past is not sustainable in the future. The numbers tell the story:

    • In the last 50 years, more than $2 billion has been spent to acquire nearly 2.5 million acres. On average, nearly 500,000 acres have been purchased each decade since 1980.

    • It would take 37-101 years to complete acquisition of fee-title land if 50,000 acres were purchased each year.  It would take 44-75 years to complete purchases at the same level for refuges composed only of easement acres.

Based on average costs per acre in different parts of the country, it would take $3.7 billion-$24.5 billion to complete acquisition of fee-title lands and $655 million--$2.8 billion to acquire easement-protected lands.

Legacy of Conservation

 The Refuge System historically has conserved two major groups of species: migratory birds; and threatened and endangered species.

Migratory birds have been a Refuge System focus since the 1903 establishment of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Migratory birds find breeding, migration and wintering habitat within refuges. Seventy-six percent of all refuges include the phrase or word “migratory birds” or “bird” in their establishment purposes statements.

Nearly one-fifth of all wildlife refuges, or 106 units, list the Endangered Species Act as one of their land acquisition authorities. The Refuge Annual Performance Plan in 2013 showed that more than 200 wildlife refuges reported implementing 2,037 recovery actions for threatened or endangered species.

The Refuge System has more than 24 million acres of wetlands, including waterfowl production areas.

Draft Strategic Growth Policy

In providing guidance for the growth of the Refuge System, the draft strategy focuses protection on priority conservation features so limited resources will bring the greatest contributions to conservation.

The draft policy identifies three conservation priorities:

•              Threatened and endangered species

•              Migratory birds of conservation concern

•              Waterfowl

The policy requires the Refuge System to use the best available science, biological planning and conservation design to identify priority conservation areas within existing refuge boundaries; to expand existing wildlife refuges; and to establish new refuges -- all while contributing toward measurable conservation targets.  The draft policy also seeks to ensure implementation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s vision to fully engage partners in the growth of the Refuge System and to manage for sustainable landscapes.

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Critter of the Season Contest

Question MarkTry and guess what the critter of the season is based upon the clues provided, and win your choice of an Audubon Lifestyles Eco-fiber polo shirt, and Audubon Lifestyles organic cotton hat OR an autographed copy of Sustainable Golf Courses written and signed by author Ronald G Dodson.

Clues provided include: 

  • They tunnel deeply in the soil and bring subsoil closer to the surface mixing it with the topsoil. Slime, a secretion, contains nitrogen. Nitrogen is an important nutrient for plants. The sticky slime helps to hold clusters of soil particles together in formations called aggregates.
  • Charles Darwin spent 39 years studying them more than 100 years ago.
  • There are approximately 2,700 different kinds in the world.
  • The live where there is food, moisture, oxygen and a favorable temperature. If they don’t have these things, they will simply go somewhere else.
  • In one acre of land, there can be more than a million of them.
  • The largest one ever found was in South Africa and measured 22 feet from its nose to the tip of its tail.
  • They have no arms, legs or eyes.
  • They are cold-blooded animals.
  • They have the ability to replace or replicate lost parts. This ability varies greatly depending on the species, the amount of damage and where it is cut. It may be easy for them to replace a lost tail, but may be very difficult or impossible to replace a lost head if things are not just right.
  • Babies are not born. They hatch from cocoons smaller than a grain of rice.
  • An Australian species grows to 12 feet long and can weigh 1-1/2 pounds.
  • Even though they don’t have eyes, they can sense light, especially at their front end. They move away from light and will become paralyzed if exposed to light for too long which is approximately one hour.
  • If its skin dries out, it will die.
  • Each of them has both male and female organs.
  • They can eat their weight each day.

SEND YOUR GUESSES TO: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All correct entries will have their name placed into a drawing held on August 31, 2011. The winner will be announced in the Fall Issue of the SustainAbility Newsletter.


References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles 

The International Sustainability Council 

Sustainability Campaign

Golfs Drive Toward Sustainability

World Migratory Bird Day

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

The United States Golf Association (USGA)

Sustainable Golf & Development

Sustainable Forest Initiative

National Geographic

International Migratory Bird Day 2011


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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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