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As many Kossacks may know, the Bush administration has been attempting to downsize the staff of the National Wildlife Refuge System by 25%, leading to the closure of smaller refuges, the elimination of many environmental education programs and recreational services, and the reduction of law enforcement and endangered species restoration at refuges across the country.

Senators Russ Feingold and Olympia Snowe are attempting to persuade the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies to approve a $514 million budget for the Refuge System for Fiscal Year 2009. This funding will help hold off the rest of the downsizing that Bush has planned for the System and help refuges begin to recover from the disastrous policies that have been weakening wildlife refuges over the last seven years.

Please call your senators by March 25 and ask them to sign onto the letter being sent to the Interior and Environment appropriations subcommittee asking for a $514 million budget for Fiscal Year 2009. Below is a list of senators who have already signed, and below that is a sample letter that sums up the issues, although I urge you to call since the deadline is so close. Visit Congress.org and enter your zip code to get the phone numbers of your senators' Washington offices, or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202)224-3121.

The following Senators have signed onto the letter as of March 17, 2008

  1. Feingold (WI)
  1. Snowe (ME)
  1. Bingaman (NM)
  1. Collins (ME)
  1. Dodd (CT)
  1. Durbin (IL)
  1. Kerry (MA)
  1. Lieberman (CT)
  1. Reed (RI)
  1. Sanders (VT)
  1. Stabenow (MI)
  1. Warner (VA)
  1. Wyden (OR)

Dear Senator,

I respectfully ask that you support increased stewardship funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System for FY 2009 and I thank you for providing a much-needed increase to the Refuge System budget for this fiscal year. While vitally important to our nations wildlife, refuges provide unparalleled opportunities to hunt, fish, watch wildlife and educate children about the environment. Without increased funding for refuges, wildlife conservation and public recreation opportunities will be jeopardized.

Senators Russ Feingold and Olympia Snowe are sending a letter to the Senate Interior and Environment appropriations subcommittee urging them to increase funding for the NWRS to $514 million for FY09.

A comprehensive analysis by the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) determined that the Refuge System needs $765 million in annual operations and maintenance funding by 2013 to properly administer its nearly 100 million acres, educational nature programs, habitat restoration projects, and much more. To reach this reasonable goal, the System needs $514 million in FY 09 for the Operations and Maintenance of America's National Wildlife Refuge System.

As a constituent and citizen concerned about the wildlife in our state, I hope you will join Senators Feingold and Snowe in urging members of the Interior and Environment appropriations subcommittee to increase funding of the Refuge System.

To sign the letter, please contact Kelly Reed (4-5323) in Senator Feingold's office or Patrick Woodcock (4-4227) in Senator Snowe's office.

Originally posted to Naturegal on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 06:06 PM PDT.

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