Specifically, we are greatly concerned about any change in
status for our beloved island. We strongly oppose any change that would negatively effect funding or staffing for this refuge. Over the years, we have witnessed reductions in staff and funding which have compromised maintenance and other activities on St. Vincent. Considering these circumstances, the current USFWS staff is doing an exemplary job with maintenance, red wolf tracking, etc. Our supporters group and other volunteers are largely staffing the sea turtle patrol, monthly wagon tours of the island, and the annual Open House. Were it not for these kinds of volunteer activities, the island would be largely underutilized and public awareness efforts greatly diminished.
St. Vincent NWR has many unique features that truly set it apart from many other refuges. This primitive and pristine barrier island has incredible bio-diversity, hardwood and softwood forests, and boasts five fresh water lakes. Additionally, St. Vincent is a propagation site for the endangered Red Wolf. The island is also home to the Bald Eagle, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Gopher Tortoise, Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Snowy Plover, Wood Stork, Least Tern, Wood Duck, Red Knot, and numerous species of shorebirds.
In addition to these features, there are three public organized hunts conducted on the island. The hunts are conducted in November, December, and January. These events are extremely popular and are attended by over 300 avid hunters. Of these hunts, the Sambar Deer hunt is legendary and draws hunters from all over the world. The Supporters organization conducts ten wagon tours of the island per season. This activity provides 240 citizens the place and opportunity to see nature "up close and personal". Our annual Open House provides 250 persons the opportunity to get to know the island, take nature walks, hear nature talks, visit many nature-related exhibits, and generally have a great time enjoying our great outdoors. The island is an attraction to many of our winter visitors and local residents as well. These visitors are of great economic benefit to local business and tourism as well.
We are requesting that the above factors be taken into consideration when determining what effect the workforce plan, and any other reorganization plans, might have on St. Vincent NWR.