Today, The House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs held a hearing on H.R. 1300, Rep. Jon Runyan's legislation to reauthorize the volunteer programs and community partnerships at National Wildlife Refuges. The current legislation authorizing the programs expires at the end of the year. This bill will extend the authorization for these programs until 2018. The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in South Jersey is a prime beneficiary of these programs.
Runyan made the following statement in support of his legislation, "Volunteers are the lifeblood of our National Wildlife Refuge system. During a time of fiscal constraints volunteer contributions allow our Refuges to continue to function," stated Runyan. "I am particularly proud of the contributions that volunteers, led by the group "Friends of Forsythe" have made to the Forsythe Wildlife Refuge in my district."
During his testimony, Jim Kurth, Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, announced the Administration's support for H.R. 1300 and thanked Rep. Runyan for introducing the legislation. Ms. Mary Harper, of "Friends of Forsythe" testified in support of the legislation as well.
The National Wildlife Refuge System contains 148 million acres of federal lands dedicated to the conservation of fish and wildlife. There are 562 Refuges located throughout the United States. The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge located in Ocean and Atlantic Counties in New Jersey, was the benefactor of over 14,000 volunteer hours in 2012, equivalent to almost seven full time employees. The Forsythe Refuge is host to over 250,000 visitors a year.