The National Wildlife Refuge System is the only system of federal lands in the United States dedicated to wildlife conservation. Our nation’s national wildlife refuges provide habitat for hundreds of species, including 380 of our endangered or threatened species, from the Florida panther to the leatherback sea turtle.3
Many of these refuges, however, sit on natural gas or oil deposits and have infrastructure in place to allow access to these deposits for companies who have owned the mineral rights since before the lands were designated as refuges. This can leave the lands susceptible to toxic spills, and the refuges can become damaged or destroyed.
Many of us enjoy visiting the beautiful natural forests around the country. These forests are not only an escape for people, but for wildlife as well. One-third of the threatened or endangered species in the U.S. live in the national forests.4 But even in these protected lands, wildlife is threatened by logging, mining, recreational activity, climate change, and other threats that can affect or destroy an animal’s habitat.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers more than 258 million acres of public lands, primarily in the 11 western states and Alaska.2 They include deserts, forests, shrublands, and wetlands.
Animals living on BLM public lands include:
Defenders of Wildlife works to protect public lands. Defenders’ field staff in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina and Washington work with local officials and other stakeholders to implement innovative, comprehensive strategies to improve wildlife conservation on public lands. Defenders’ Conservation Law department holds federal agencies accountable wherever they fail to properly apply the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws on public lands.2
Defenders of Wildlife has helped shape policies for managing national wildlife refuges. Defenders is working to vigorously fight any proposal to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling.3 Defenders has also supported the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the development of new regulations on how non-federal oil and gas beneath the Refuge System are accessed and managed.3 Defenders is also advocating for policies that create new refuges and expand existing ones in order to further preserve wildlife and their habitats. Defenders of Wildlife is a member of the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) which works to secure adequate funding for the Refuge System.
Defenders’ Forests for Wildlife Initiative is shaping new forest and wildlife conservation policy, thwarting attacks on our public forests and the imperiled species that depend on them, and engaging in innovative conservation projects in national forests.4 Defenders works closely with national forests in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Rocky Mountains, and Alaska’s Chugach and Tongass National Forests. Defenders forcefully opposes every policy and legislative proposal that could degrade habitat or weaken conservation laws such as the Endangered Species Act on our national forests and other public forestlands.4 They work closely with the Forest Service, conservation scientists, and other partners to develop, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of national forest wildlife conservation policies, plans and projects.4
One of the most impactful laws that help protect wildlife is the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA is a federal law that was enacted in 1973 and protects endangered wildlife and plants from becoming extinct. More than 99 percent of the more than 2,000 plants and animals protected by the law still persist today.5
Defenders of Wildlife works with many organizations and private landowners to help people and wildlife coexist. For decades, Defenders of Wildlife has been a leader in working with lawmakers, conservation professionals, local communities, and private landowners to develop innovative and effective methods for minimizing conflicts between people and wildlife. They are a leader in helping ranchers implement proven, nonlethal solutions to prevent attacks on livestock, such as using range riders to patrol for wolves and electric fencing to keep grizzlies out of small pastures, chicken coops and beeyards. They also provide bear-resistant trash cans and educate people on how to deal with wildlife encounters.7 Defenders also supports the ESA, advocates to protect and increase federal funding for the Act, and opposes all legislative attacks that would weaken the law5 so that you can enjoy seeing your favorite plants and animals in their natural habitats.
There are several forms of renewable energy.
Wind power uses turbines to generate electricity. It does not create pollutants and relies on natural wind patterns. It is one of the least expensive forms of renewable energy available to us.9 Wind power can have negative impacts on wildlife, including migrating birds and bats. Defenders works to ensure that planned wind power projects are 'Smart from the Start' and take into account these concerns.
Solar power uses the sun as a source of energy. The sun’s power is captured by panels and other solar collectors; these panels convert sunlight into electricity directly, providing a clean source of energy. Solar power is still relatively expensive compared to other sources of renewable energies. The amount of power generated is also limited by an area’s sun exposure.
Hydroelectric power is generated by flowing water that moves turbines. While this method is effective, it requires that rivers are dammed so that the water can move quickly through the turbines. This can impact natural wildlife habitats. Building these dams also requires large costs. However, this renewable energy source won’t run out and isn’t as unpredictable as the wind or sun.
Defenders is working with federal and state agencies to help shape policies for renewable energy development. We also partner with non-government organizations and companies to develop strategies and plans that help accelerate renewable energy development, while protecting wildlife and wild places. Defenders also provides guidance on individual renewable energy projects, with a particular emphasis on avoiding, minimizing and mitigating impacts on wildlife and habitats.8
Much of the above information was taken from the Defenders of Wildlife website.
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