Two things remain certain with regard to Michigan’s National Wildlife Refuges: they provide critical habitat for an amazing diversity of bird species and they are seriously underfunded.
Perhaps the best known bird of Michigan is the Kirtland’s Warbler. An endangered species, the Kirtland’s is a bird that mostly breeds in Michigan but because of sound conservation efforts, has recently expanded its range. Just this year, nesting Kirtland’s Warblers were found in Wisconsin.
Much of the progress of the Kirtland’s Warbler would not have been possible without conserved lands such as the Kirtland’s Warbler Wildlife Management Area. But there are also many other wonderful refuges found in Michigan.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge provides some of the best birding in Michigan most notably for the high concentration of Common Loons and Trumpeter Swans. But it also holds another important key to conservation in Michigan: the staff at Seney Administers Kirtlandâ€™s Warbler NWR and Huron Islands, Michigan Islands, Harbor Island and Whitefish Point refuges in Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan.
Michigan’s NWRs are facing a $22.3 million budget shortfall and with it comes serious personnel cuts.
Because of financial constraints, Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge managed many fewer wetland acres than planned due to the loss of a biological technician. | Due to budget shortfalls, all education programs and teacher workshops will be discontinued at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
If there isn’t enough money, how will habitat for the Kirtland’s Warbler be managed properly? What will we lose in educational programs, maintenance, and biological studies? What can be done about this serious decline in funding?
As always, we can buy duck stamps – 98% of every dollar goes to purchasing new habitat. But there are other ways to help too. For starters, we can take action at the Refuge Action Network. Michigan citizens can petition to their senators and representatives to support bills that fund the NWR System. But it doesn’t have to stop there.
We can also join the Seney Natural History Association or Friends of Shiawassee NWR to directly support these individual refuges.
All birders that have had the pleasure of seeing a Kirtland’s Warbler are most likely indebted to the wonderful people that manage their habitat. It is your responsibility (along with all birders) to support these lands in every way possible. We owe it to future generations of people as well as birds.