Unless Congress acts to protect the refuges, another casualty will be the numerous climate security and ecosystem service benefits provided by the NWRS that support, directly or indirectly, the operation of military installations. For example, refuges buffer the effects of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and other increasingly potent natural disasters; manage storm surge and water runoff; and recharge aquifers.
If the NWRS capacity is diminished, then installations will pay to recover these services in some other, harder way ó or they will have to make do with less access to water and possible reductions in operations to address air and water quality issues. Indeed, the NWRS provides approximately $26.9 billion in ecosystem services per year, for the lower 48 states alone.
Itís true that congressional proposals to cut the NWRS budget by 10 to 20 percent will cause irreparable harm to wildlife while also restricting visitation opportunities enjoyed by more than 40 million people each year. But the national security ramifications of such a cut are perhaps even greater as one of the Defense Departmentís most important domestic allies for training readiness is eviscerated. Itís time that budget doves and hawks in Congress become birds of a feather, avoid this reckless course and recognize the multiple benefits of adequately funding our national wildlife refuges.
Rebecca R. Rubin is president and CEO of Marstel-Day LLC and also serves as a member of the board of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. David Houghton is president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and chairman of the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.