New Rules Needed to Protect Wildlife Refuges

The USFWS Proposed New Policy And Rules To Protect Wildlife Refuges

On February 1st, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed new policy and rules for the management of its national network of wildlife refuges. The USFWS intends the changes to help the refuges cope with the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.

USFWS Director Martha Williams emphasized the need for these rules. “These important updates will provide a consistent, transparent approach and help strengthen the Service’s ability to achieve the Refuge System mission to conserve, manage and restore fish, wildlife and plant resources on national wildlife refuges across the United States. This will ensure that our national wildlife refuges are a thriving and sustained network of healthy lands and waters that include imperiled species and diverse wildlife populations, all for the benefit of present and future generations.” 

Additionally, Ramona McGee, Wildlife Program Leader for the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), highlighted the importance of these rules. “The South’s diversity of animal and plant species is globally significant. As development and climate change threaten Southern species, Wildlife Refuges serve as much needed sanctuaries. There’s a reason they are called ‘refuges’—they are intended to be places where wildlife, including imperiled and endangered species, can safely flourish from human-caused threats. The statutes governing our National Wildlife Refuge System limit certain activities and uses that would undermine the conservation purposes of Wildlife Refuges. Today’s proposal will help advance and affirm the fundamental purposes for which refuges were established, while incorporating needed updates to account for threats from climate change. We look forward to working with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure our beloved refuges in the South are managed to preserve their integrity and protect our rich biodiversity.” 

Wildlife Refuges Importance To North Carolina

North Carolina benefits from critical wildlife refuges statewide, especially in our diverse coastal natural areas. Climate-change-related sea level rise and increasing intense tropical storms threaten our barrier islands and coastal wetlands.

Last November, the Biden-Harris Administration issued the Fifth National Climate Assessment. The assessment warns higher temperatures will cause stronger, wetter tropical storms in NC. Additionally, the National Centers for Environmental Information reports billion-dollar disaster events increasing in North Carolina over the last few decades. In the face of these increasing events, we need more protections, not less. We need healthy and vibrant wetlands, and we need all we can get. Yet polluting industries and their pocketed politicians stripped protections from wetlands last year.

Want to know which politicians supported the most environmental destructive bill in decades? Over the next few weeks, look for our 2023 Scorecard. In the meantime, read our past scorecards here.

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