Runyan’s Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Bill Passes House
The U.S. House of Representatives has unanimously passed Rep. Jon Runyan’s legislation that, if enacted, would reauthorize the volunteer programs and community partnerships at national wildlife refuges. Friends of Forsythe, which organizes volunteer activities at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, has served as a model community partnership group and will be allowed to continue with reauthorization of this measure.
“I look forward to fighting to see that this bill is enacted and becomes law,” Runyan commented following passage of the legislation. “The volunteer programs authorized in this legislation are the lifeblood of our National Wildlife Refuge System, and refuges like the Forsythe Refuge in my district couldn’t serve the public without them.”
Mary Harper, who sits on the board of directors of Friends of Forsythe, testified at an earlier hearing in support of the measure. “On behalf of Friends of Forsythe NWR and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, representing nearly 300 Friends organizations nationally, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Rep. Runyan for his leadership and support for HR 1300,” she noted. “Rep. Runyan’s dedication to the conservation of our national natural heritage and our five New Jersey refuges is exemplary and deeply appreciated by our volunteers and members.”
This legislation will now move on to the Senate, where it needs to pass the upper chamber before it could be signed by the president and become public law.
The National Wildlife Refuge System is comprised of 148 million acres of federal lands throughout the country dedicated to the conservation of fish and wildlife. The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, in Ocean and Atlantic counties, was the benefactor of more than 14,000 volunteer hours in 2012. —J.K.-H.