Yesterday, The House of Representatives unanimously passed Rep. Jon Runyan's bill, HR 1300. If enacted, this bi-partisan legislation will reauthorize the volunteer programs and community partnerships at National Wildlife Refuges. The "Friends of Forsythe" volunteer group, which organizes volunteer activities at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, has served as a model community partnership group and will be allowed to continue with reauthorization from this legislation. Runyan made the following statement on passage of the bill:
"I am happy that my colleagues allowed this legislation to take the next step and unanimously pass the House of Representatives today. I look forward to fighting to see that this bill is enacted and becomes law," stated Runyan. "The volunteer programs authorized in this legislation are the lifeblood of our National Wildlife Refuge System and Refuge's like the Forsythe Refuge in my district couldn't serve the public without them."
Mary Harper, Board of Directors, of the "Friends of Forsythe" volunteer group testified at an earlier hearing in support of the legislation made the following statement:
"On behalf of Friends of Forsythe NWR and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, representing nearly 300 Friends organizations nationally, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Rep. Runyan for his leadership and support for HR 1300. Rep. Runyan's dedication to the conservation of our national natural heritage and our five New Jersey refuges is exemplary and deeply appreciated by our volunteers and members."
This legislation will now move on to the Senate, where it will need to pass the upper chamber before it can be signed by the President and become public law. 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.