Nation's six most threatened national wildlife refuges named in 2005 State of the System Report

August 10, 2005 (Washington, DC) Six of the nation's 545 National Wildlife Refuges are at severe risk, according to the 2005 State of the System Report, released earlier today.

The six most threatened National Wildlife Refuges in the United States are: Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), North Carolina; Horicon NWR, Wisconsin; Stone Lakes NWR, California; White River NWR, Arkansas; Alaska Maritime NWR, Alaska; and Desert NWR, Nevada.

The six sites were named for a variety of reasons, such as increasing human populations and planned development, but all face threats to their "buffer zones." Buffer zones, or the lands immediately surrounding a refuge, are critical to the protection of wildlife because they provide animals with additional resources needed for survival.

The State of the System report indicates that buffer zones actually have more agriculture, subdivision and other human activity than the national average. In other words, there is more development near these highly sensitive refuges than on less sensitive areas further away from them.

"Buffer zones are absolutely critical to the National Wildlife Refuge System," said Evan Hirsche, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, which issued the report. "Since many of the lands within buffer zones are privately held, we must work closely with private landowners to ensure the long-term protection of these national treasures."

The six refuges were named most threatened because:

  • Pocosin Lakes NWR (North Carolina): The proposed construction of a military outlying landing field on a 33,000-acre site just five miles outside the refuge boundary puts the entire refuge at risk.

  • Horicon NWR (Wisconsin): The proposed construction of 133 wind turbines within 1.2 miles of the Horicon Marsh infringes upon the refuge's buffer zone. The 400-foot turbines' giant arms would circle in the airspace where birds fly, placing them at significa

  • Contact: Brad Phillips
    National Wildlife Refuge Association

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