USFWS releases first Refuge Annual Performance Report

©Bill Wallen, USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its first Refuge Annual Performance Report — based on data published in the 2016/2017 Refuge Annual Performance Plan (RAPP). RAPPs compile data from each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System to summarize annual achievements and reflect on the overall performance of the Refuge System. Information from the RAPPs can be utilized to help shape budget requests and communicate priority needs, like the need for greater invasive species management, threatened and endangered species protection, and/or the restoration of disturbed lands. The Report describes how a decline in funding since Fiscal Year 2010 has led to fewer accomplishments for the majority of the Refuge System. The Report also discusses the impacts on refuges from reduced capacity to address aspects including volunteer/visitor engagement and active land management through methods like prescribed fire. Despite setbacks to performance in the Refuge System, visitation rates showed a steady increase over the six year period from FY 2010–2015.

In FY 2017, the Refuge System will receive approximately $483.9 million. This represents an increase of $2.5 million from FY 2016, but is still below the record-high of $503.3 million in FY 2010. As part of the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE), TWS works every year to ensure robust funding to maintain and improve the National Wildlife Refuge System.