Darn Good News: Eastern Neck Refuge To Fill Position and Stay Open

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it will continue to staff a position at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, an island north of Rock Hall, Maryland. Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge will remain open to hunting, fishing, bird watching, and other wildlife-dependent activities

The Wildlife Refuge Specialist position, which oversaw day-to-day operations at the refuge, became vacant in 2017. The Service reviews every vacant position within the National Wildlife Refuge System in order to manage within declining budgets. The refuge system’s leaders have had to make difficult choices, resulting in elimination of almost 400 positions nationwide in the last eight years. The position at Eastern Neck refuge was being considered for elimination to address budget challenges.

The position will work closely with the dedicated volunteers and Friends of Eastern Neck who support the refuge, which includes operating the refuge visitor center. Currently, staff stationed two hours away at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge drive to the Eastern Neck to work with volunteers and Friends.

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1962, for the primary purposes of migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, and other native species. Approximately 2,286 acres, Eastern Neck NWR is important migratory and overwintering habitat for thousands of waterfowl, including over 500 tundra swans. Over 70,000 visitors come to the refuge annually to observe wildlife and walk the five trails and two boardwalks. The refuge hosts deer hunting and a mentored youth turkey hunt, and is a popular fishing spot. Two county parks, including a popular boat launch, are at the end of the refuge. The refuge has 68 volunteers and an active Friends group.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Gren Whitman says:

    Friends of Eastern Neck’s Melissa Baile and Phil Cicconi deserve our deepest gratitude for their stubborn and farsighted leadership.
    Getting this key position re-funded was no small matter, and success was never guaranteed.
    Thank you, Melissa and Phil!

    • Philip Cicconi says:

      We have been receiving numerous kudos. We appreciate the recognition however this “win” belongs to our wonderful Kent County community. We received support from practically every local organization, the County Commissioners and all of the Maryland legislators. We received feedback from Fish and Wildlife in Hadley Ma. that they were receiving 20 -50 communiques daily. We also learned this issue was heard at the highest levels in Washington and served to underscore the plight of the entire Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). FWS budgets have been slashed annually since 2006 and have reached critical mass. Given all of this, the Friends of Eastern Neck board will be discussing ways to press forward to stop the government from cutting FWS budgets further. You will be hearing more about this in the future.
      Having escaped this intact from this situation has invigorated our board of directors and we are planning ways to make the refuge more meaningful to the community through education and outreach programs. Call 410 639-7056 if you would like to join the volunteers at Eastern Neck to ensure the viability of our organization and our refuge.

  2. CAROL BROWN says:

    WONDEFUL news about a WONDERFUL place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Matt Lechowicz says:

    First let me say that I am sure the employees, friends and volunteers at ENWR perform a valuable service. But keep in mind that a wildlife refuge is not a park – it is primarily for wildlife, not people. And so having a section of it closed off to people (motor vehicles in particular), for whatever reason, may not have been the worst thing that could have happened.

    • Gren Whitman says:

      Replying to Mr. Lechowicz, many areas on the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge are off limits to the public; in fact, most of it! And during the winter, even more, including the Ingleside area and, when the Bald eagles are nesting there, the Boxes Point trail. The Fish & Wildlife Service never suggests that the Refuge isn’t for wildlife first, people second.

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