One hundred years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt took a small step that launched the modern conservation movement. By executive order, he protected Pelican Island, Florida, as a bird sanctuary to protect its dwindling bird life from the onslaught of plume hunters during what is now known as the Feather Wars. From that modest beginning, the National Wildlife Refuge System bas grown to almost 95 million acres with refuges across all of the United States. Larger than the National Park System but not as well known, the Refuge System plays a vital role in conserving our Nation's biological diversity. In this edition of the Bulletin, we look at a few examples of how refuges help to protect and recover endangered species.
Throughout 2003, the National Wildlife Refuge System celebrates 100 years of extraordinary growth and achievement. A century has passed since President Theodore Roosevelt established the first refuge at Pelican Island, Florida, sparking the American wildlife conservation movement. For those of us who work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there could hardly be a more significant or gratifying anniversary.
The National Wildlife Refuge System has been called America's best-kept secret. During this centennial year, we will change that and, by spreading the word, help it become recognized for what it truly is, one of America's greatest national treasures and a resounding success in wildlife conservation.
Of all the incredible things that our wildlife refuges are and do, one of the proudest is our far-reaching and historic efforts in protecting and recovering endangered and threatened species. It's easy to forget that the Endangered Species Act, which is widely regarded as the world's most powerful wildlife conservation law, gives the Fish and Wildlife Service a responsibility of almost overwhelming scope, …