WILDLIFE – House to Vote on Refuge Bill

WILDLIFE – House to vote on refuge bill
Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder, E&E News reporter
Published: Monday, December 18, 2017

House lawmakers will vote this week to fast-track a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the National Wildlife Refuge System’s volunteer services, community partnerships and education programs.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) introduced H.R. 3979, which he said would help protect wildlife and ecosystems.
The bill would enable national refuges to expand volunteer programs and partnerships with community groups, according to Caroline Brouwer, government affairs director for the National Wildlife Refuge Association.
“In short this bill allows volunteers and friends groups to more fully participate in their local refuge,” Brouwer said during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the bill in November.
In fiscal 2016, 40,000 people volunteered 1.4 million hours to the 561 national wildlife refuges, according to a press release accompanying the bill’s introduction in October.
“National Wildlife Refuges host nearly 50 million visitors each year supporting local economies, however that would be impossible without the valuable contribution of volunteers and community groups,” Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), a co-sponsor, said in a statement.
An identical bill, S. 1940, was introduced the same month by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
“These men and women give their time and talents to be good stewards of the world around us, and we must make sure they have the resources necessary to do this important work from which we all benefit,” Carper said in a statement.

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