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Public Statements

Reauthorization of National Wildlife Refuge System Programs

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. RUNYAN. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the legislation that I have, H.R. 1300, which would reauthorize the volunteer programs and community partnerships at National Wildlife Refuges from FY15 to FY17.

Volunteers are the backbone of our National Wildlife Refuge system. In fact, in FY12, volunteers contributed 1,594,246 hours of work at the wildlife refuges across the country. The value of this work, estimated at $21.79 per hour, has an overall value contribution to FY12 estimated to be over $34 million.

With this annual authorized appropriation of just $2 million, we have received a value of return on investment of over 17 times. This kind of return on investment sets an example of how to effectively leverage a limited government investment.

The simple fact of the matter is that refuges cannot remain open without the contribution of volunteers and community groups. Volunteers currently contribute more than 20 percent of all refuge work, an equivalent to 766 full-time employees.

Volunteers have also allowed visitors centers to remain open during sequestration. As a result of volunteer work, the Fish and Wildlife Service has recently stated, ``There are no immediate plans to close volunteer and education centers for sustained periods of time because of sequestration.''

My home district in New Jersey is home to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, which benefits from one of the best community volunteer programs in the country, The Friends of Forsythe. I have seen firsthand the invaluable contribution these volunteers make at Forsythe, and know that the refuge cannot continue to operate without the contributions of these volunteers.

I urge passage of H.R. 1300.

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