Combating Understaffing On National Wildlife Refuges Throughout The Country

From the National Wildlife Refuge Association
and Reta Rutledge

Refuges across the country are suffering from chronic underfunding. Due to this underfunding, staff positions are being cut, law enforcement is expected to cover thousands of acres (and in the worst-case scenario, a full state), refuges are being complexed, and important programs are being dropped.

In the northeast region, in the last ten years, 80 positions have been lost. A reduction of 25% of maintenance positions has resulted in deferred maintenance. Because of this, many programs such as invasive species control and other habitat management actions have been dropped until more staff can be hired.

Down in the southeast, refuges are experiencing similar problems. A decade ago, the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee NWR in Florida had 30 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) positions. Now, there are only 7 FTEs. The refuge has over 100,000 visitors each year and is a key part of Everglades restoration efforts which includes massive invasive species work like the removal of climbing ferns, constrictor snakes, and more.

I’m sharing this information because Buenos Aires NWR is also understaffed with only five full time staff and six vacancies. There is only 1 maintenance person instead of 4. In order to help him get projects done, volunteers have helped him build the boardwalk for the Cienega and last week we helped him install 20 fire rings at Refuge campsite. Friends hired a contractor to help him install two 30′ bridges at the Cienega. Stop by to see the results.

Friends are also using grants to complete wells, help with quail projects and more. The more funds we have, the more we can help.

Your membership and donations allow us to help the Refuge even more. Please join or renew and support your Refuge.

One Comment

  1. The work of the Friends group is invaluable, and it is very troubling that USFWS staffing on refuges has declined so much. Without volunteers, the refuge would be in even worse shape. Thanks to all who help!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *