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  • Saturday, April 05, 2014 10:50 AM | Rick Shields (Administrator)
          The FWS staff of the Savannah Coastal Refruges Complex did a great job last night of honoring refuge volunteers at their annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.
         The dinner was held at Millstone Landing on the Savannah River and featured two boat trips up the river for volunteers and families.  The trips were narrated by Linda Etchells and "Crawfish" Crawford, while Peter Range captained the 25-passenger craft.
         Russ Webb and crew cooked up burgers and brats for the more than 65 attendees. 
         Congratulations to Dot Bambach who was awarded her 4000 Hour volunteer pin, and to Mary Ellen Urbanski and Dale Terrell who were named Volunteers of the Year for 2013.
  • Saturday, April 05, 2014 10:44 AM | Rick Shields (Administrator)
          More than 60 people attended the Friends 6th Annual General Membership Meeting on March 22nd at the Savannah NWR Visitor Center.  With refreshments, door prizes, and interesting presentations, a good time was had by all.
         Congratulations to Linda Etchells who was re-elected to another 2-year term on our Board of Directors, and to Ben Goggins, Kris Williams, and Twila Gray who were elected to open seats.
         A big Friends group thank you to Tony Mills from the LowCountry Institute who brought along some of his collection of local reptiles and amphibians as part of his presentation on these fascinating critters.
  • Saturday, February 22, 2014 11:48 PM | Rick Shields (Administrator)
         The Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for the Everglades is accepting applications for its paid summer internship focused on the Everglades. 
         This summer marks the 13th year of the program that enrolls college students and new grad students.
         If interested in applying, click HERE.  Application deadline is March 31, 2014.
  • Saturday, February 08, 2014 12:21 AM | Rick Shields (Administrator)
       On February 5th, Savannah State University and the Harris Neck Land Trust co-sponsored a symposium on campus to highlight the Harris Neck land dispute story and to attempt to solicit support for the cause.  An article in the Savannah Morning news published on February 6th reported on the event.

      The article and public statements by Land Trust representatives claim that F&WS "at the highest level in DC" is negotiating a deal to lease 800 acres of Harris Neck NWR to the Land Trust upon which they will build a museum, homes, and gardens.  They also have stated that the deal will be consummated this year and that construction will start in 2015.

      I would like to reassure Friends members and supporters that I have spoken to a National Wildlife Refuge Association representative and with US F&WS representatives and have been reassured that no such negotiations are ongoing.

      In meetings last year the Land Trust was advised that F&WS would review any proposal the land Trust submitted for the private use of refuge lands using the same criteria used for any other group with similar proposals.  So far, the F&WS has informed me that they have received no proposals from the Trust.
      Friends group members from the Harris Neck NWR area are compiling a document giving a fact-based critical history of the entire issue (which began in 1942). It will be posted on this site when available.

     This site will keep our members advised of any news concerning this issue.  For more info on this long-running dispute, see our Harris Neck resource pages.
  • Friday, February 07, 2014 9:31 PM | Rick Shields (Administrator)
       The Friends group is managed by a group of nine Directors, elected to our Board for two year terms.  This year, we will have four openings onthe Board, and are looking for candidates who would be interested in running for these open seats.

      If you are a Friends member, and interested in discussing the role of a Director, please contact Rick Shields at webmaster@coastalrefuges.org.  The election will be held at our General Membership Meeting on March 22, 2014.
  • Wednesday, February 05, 2014 10:07 PM | Rick Shields (Administrator)
         The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to announce the release of the draft Strategic Growth Policy for the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Information on the draft policy has been published in the Federal Register, and can be found at: https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-01849.

         To ensure consideration of comments, please follow the instructions on the Federal Register website.
      For more information, and to view the draft Strategic Growth Policy, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/planning/StrategicGrowth.html

    Strategic Growth: Getting It Right

    Spanning more than 150 million acres, the National Wildlife Refuge System is the nation’s largest and most diverse collection of public lands and water dedicated to wildlife conservation.  The Refuge System has a storied history of conserving iconic and critical habitats across America.

    Today, faced with outsized challenges – from climate change and other environmental stressors to human demands on the environment – the Refuge System must prioritize and focus its  strategic growth scope to ensure that lands and waters with the greatest conservation value are protected on behalf of the American people.

    Is Acquisition Sustainable?

    How the Refuge System has added lands in the past is not sustainable in the future. The numbers tell the story:

    • In the last 50 years, more than $2 billion has been spent to acquire nearly 2.5 million acres. On average, nearly 500,000 acres have been purchased each decade since 1980.
    • It would take 37-101 years to complete acquisition of fee-title land if 50,000 acres were purchased each year.  It would take 44-75 years to complete purchases at the same level for refuges composed only of easement acres.

        Based on average costs per acre in different parts of the country, it would take $3.7 billion-$24.5 billion to complete acquisition of fee-title lands and $655 million--$2.8 billion to acquire easement-protected lands.

    Legacy of Conservation

    The Refuge System historically has conserved two major groups of species: migratory birds; and threatened and endangered species.

    Migratory birds have been a Refuge System focus since the 1903 establishment of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Migratory birds find breeding, migration and wintering habitat within refuges. Seventy-six percent of all refuges include the phrase or word “migratory birds” or “bird” in their establishment purposes statements.

    Nearly one-fifth of all wildlife refuges, or 106 units, list the Endangered Species Act as one of their land acquisition authorities. The Refuge Annual Performance Plan in 2013 showed that more than 200 wildlife refuges reported implementing 2,037 recovery actions for threatened or endangered species.

    The Refuge System has more than 24 million acres of wetlands, including waterfowl production areas.

    Draft Strategic Growth Policy

           In providing guidance for the growth of the Refuge System, the draft strategy focuses protection on priority conservation features so limited resources will bring the greatest contributions to conservation.

    The draft policy identifies three conservation priorities:

    • threatened and endangered species
    • migratory birds of conservation concern
    • waterfowl

    The policy requires the Refuge System to use the best available science, biological planning and conservation design to identify priority conservation areas within existing refuge boundaries; to expand existing wildlife refuges; and to establish new refuges -- all while contributing toward measurable conservation targets.  The draft policy also seeks to ensure implementation of the  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s vision to fully engage partners in the growth of the Refuge System and to manage for sustainable landscapes.


    U.S. F&WS 
    4401 N. Fairfax Drive 
    Arlington, VA 22203

  • Wednesday, February 05, 2014 10:01 PM | Rick Shields (Administrator)
          The National Wildlife Refuge Association has just announced this year’s National Wildlife Refuge System Awards Recipients! These awards honor outstanding accomplishments by refuge managers, refuge employees, volunteers, and Friends groups. Visit the NWRA website at http://refugeassociation.org/people/awards/2014awards/ to see the full list of winners.


  • Tuesday, February 04, 2014 1:15 PM | Rick Shields (Administrator)

    Hams wanted, cured and uncured...

    for the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge Puppet Theater.  We need puppeteers and a stage manager.  Script, puppets and stage furnished.  No experience necessary. 


    The environmental education program needs readers to read to kindergarten, first and second grade classes.  Volunteers will go out to schools to read and discuss some lovely children’s books.


    Are you a retired teacher, scout leader, or do you just enjoy working with elementary age children?  The refuge has a need for presenters in the environmental education program.  Anyone, experienced or not, with a desire to be greeted by enthusiastic little people whenever you go shopping will be accepted.  Training is provided.


    Don’t want to interact with children?  Then, we still have a need for your organizational and scheduling talents.


    If interested in any of the above fun activities, please call Amy Ochoa at 843-784 -9911 or email her at amy_ochoa@fws.gov.

  • Thursday, January 30, 2014 9:37 PM | Rick Shields (Administrator)
    Our third annual Photo Contest is in the works!  Submissions for the 2014 contest will be accepted from February 15 until April 15, 2014.  Winners will be announced during Environmental Education Week April 22-26, 2014.

    This year Bay Camera Company and Worldwide Camera of Savannah are donating gift certificates to our prize pool.  The Friends thank them for their support.

    For more information, click for the RULES AND ENTRY FORMS or HERE for the contest flyer.

    To see the winning photos from 2013, click HERE.
  • Wednesday, January 29, 2014 10:44 AM | Rick Shields (Administrator)
    Due to the inclement weather, the Friends Board meeting scheduled for tonight has been postponed. 

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