H.R. 4973: National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act of 2010

H.R. 4973

National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act of 2010

Date
July 13, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 4973 is scheduled to be considered on the House floor on Tuesday, July 13, 2010, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  The legislation was introduced by Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD).  The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural resources, which reported the bill by unanimous consent on June 16, 2010.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4973 would authorize $3 million annually for the Secretary of Interior to carry-out the volunteer, community partnership, and education programs under the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956.   The bill authorizes the funding from FY 2011 through FY 2014.

H.R. 4973 would also authorize a new National Volunteer Coordination Program within the National Wildlife Refuge System.  The purpose of the program would be to recruit and maintain volunteers to support resource management and conservation activities within the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Within on year of enactment, the Director of the National Wildlife Refuge System must publish a national strategy for the coordination and utilization of volunteers within the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Additionally, the bill would require the Secretary of the Interior to issue a full report on the accomplishments of the volunteer program, the community partnerships program, and the refuge education programs authorized under this legislation. 

Background

The first unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System was created in 1903 at Pelican Island in Florida.  According to their website, the system has now grown to more than 540 wildlife refuges and more than 36,000 fee and easement waterfowl production area for more than 250 threatened or endangered plants and animals. In 1998, Congress authorized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish volunteer pilot projects to provide for full-time volunteer coordinators to recruit, train and supervise volunteers.  In 2004 the program was reauthorized (P.L. 108-327) at a level of $2 million annually from FY 2004 through FY 2009.  Under that legislation, the word “pilot” was struck from the programs name and volunteers were deemed government employees for the purpose of liability.  H.R. 4973 would reauthorize the program from FY 2011 through FY 2014 and increase the authorization level by $1 million annually.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the bill would cost $8 million over five years.