Wittman Hosts Event to Celebrate KARO Passage
WARSAW – Today, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) hosted an event at the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Warsaw, Virginia to celebrate the historic reauthorization of the National Wildlife Refuge System Volunteer Programs. In April, President Trump signed into law H.R. 3979, the Keep America’s Refuges Operational Act (KARO), a bill which Congressman Wittman introduced along with Rep. Hakeem Jefferies (D-NY). This legislation reauthorized the National Wildlife Refuge System volunteer, community partnership, and education programs that help ensure Americans can visit, explore, fish, hunt and study wildlife for generations to come.
“Today we celebrated the passage of a piece of legislation that will bring so much to our community,” said Congressman Wittman. “Specifically, this bill will provide $2 million a year over the next four years, totaling $10 million dollars for our refuge’s volunteer programs. These vital programs have not been reauthorized in almost a decade and this is a major victory for our nation’s refuges and refuge volunteers. National Wildlife Refuges host nearly 50 million visitors each year supporting local economies, however that would be impossible without the valuable contribution of volunteers and community groups. Reauthorizing these programs ensures that our nation’s refuges will continue to be enjoyed by tourists, sportsmen and women, and conservationists for years to come.”
The event kicked off with volunteer activities in the morning with Refuge volunteers including trail maintenance and beach cleanup. The day concluded with a ceremony where Congressman Wittman presented the Refuge with a copy of the Keep America’s Refuges Operational Act and recognized the volunteers for their tireless efforts. Some of the attendees of the day’s activities included Congressman Wittman; Bill Crouch, Acting Refuge Manager, Ann Graziano, President of the Rappahannock Wildlife Refuge Friends Group; Geoffrey Haskett, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association; and Steve Guertin, Deputy Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Today's special event, like much of the work we do on national wildlife refuges, is made possible by dedicated staff, volunteers and conservation partners working together,” said Bill Crouch, Acting Refuge Manager. “I want to personally thank all the folks who volunteered today at Rappahannock River Valley. Last year we had about 100 active refuge volunteers who contributed over 4,000 hours.Their contribution to our mission is essential, and I am very happy that, with the passage of H.R. 3979, we can continue to support volunteering on national wildlife refuges.”
Refuge volunteer activities are diverse and include: maintaining the five publicly open Refuge tracts to provide a safe and enjoyable visitor experience; assisting Refuge staff with wildlife habitat restoration; and participating in “Go Wild!”, the Refuge’s annual community celebration. Without the contributions of the over 100 volunteers at the Refuge, much of the work critical to maintaining and enhancing wildlife habitat and wildlife-dependent recreation at the Refuge would not take place.
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.
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