Friday, July 8, 2011

Refuge System Sets Goals for Next Decade

Friends of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument
to Join 1,200 at One of Nation’s
Largest Gatherings of Conservationists

Representing Friends of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument (FOMTM) Ignacio V. “Ike” Cabrera, Chairman and Laurie Peterka, Secretary, will be among 1,200 professionals and citizen conservationists who will hear from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, retired U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who headed the federal response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and historian/author Douglas Brinkley at the National Wildlife Refuge System Conserving the Future conference in Madison, WI. The conference will be held July 11-14, when a new vision will be ratified to guide the Refuge System for the next decade.

The conference – one of the nation’s largest gatherings of conservationists — is the culmination of a months-long, highly transparent process to create a reinvigorated vision for the Refuge System. Over the past six months, Americans submitted more than 10,000 comments to the draft vision, posted online at, where more information about the vision and the conference is available.

Speakers will also include noted oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle; award-winning nature photographer Dewitt Jones who traveled the globe for National Geographic; MacArthur-winning environmental activist Majora Carter of the Bronx, New York; and Juan Martinez of Los Angeles, with the nonprofit Children & Nature Network and named by National Geographic as one of its Emerging Explorers.

FOMTM was among more than 100 nonprofit Refuge System Friends organizations at the conference. FOMTM formed in the Spring of 2008 to express the voice of the local community and consists of a cross-section of indigenous and resident people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who are dedicated to the conservation, preservation and protection of flora, fauna and geological features of the oceans; and the proper management of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. The organization was a recipient of a 2009 EPA Environmental Award for their community outreach work supporting marine protected areas. Currently, FOMTM follows and reports on progress of the steps outlined in the 2008 declaration.

The Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the nation’s largest network of federal lands and waters dedicated to the protection of wildlife and the habitat on which it depends. The Refuge System is composed of 553 national wildlife refuges spanning about 150 million acres. More than 44 million people visit wildlife refuges each year.

The new vision will help the Refuge System implement the best wildlife conservation practices guided by the latest science. The Refuge System’s new vision recognizes the rapid social and environmental changes that have taken place over the last decade or so.

One idea slated for discussion: to establish an interagency team to improve habitat conservation and the conservation literacy of America, especially among the young.

FOMTM is attending the NWR conference to network with like-minded professionals and volunteers in order to bring whatever resources it can back to the local community. Any particular programs that may be launched as a consequence of participation will be announced at, where you can also follow all other activities that FOMTM is involved on behalf of the community.

The Conserving the Future conference will also showcase a modern face of the federal government: Many conference proceedings will be live-streamed. Texting, mobile communications and social networking will all play essential communications roles.

The Refuge System will offset carbon emissions tied to conference travel with contributions to The Conservation Fund’s Go Zero program.

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