Kaptur Calls on Interior Secretary Bernhardt to Allocate Needed Deferred Maintenance Funding to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) sent the following letter to Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt urging the department to prioritize major deferred maintenance projects in FY 21 for the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) pursuant to the Great American Outdoors Act, bipartisan legislation signed into law earlier this year which extends much needed federal resources to rebuild and maintain National Parks and wildlands across the U.S.
“The ONWR is responsible for conservation, restoration, enhancement, and protection, with only 10 full-time employees managing over 11,000 acres of land,” Rep. Kaptur wrote. “The refuge works in partnership with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Ducks Unlimited, National Environmental Education Foundation, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The refuge also contains vital wetlands that filter out pollutants from water that eventually enters Lake Erie and serves as the last remnant of the great black swamp, which used to cover 1,500 square miles. Despite major challenges with COVID, this small refuge received over 359,000 visitors last year alone. However, continued public participation at the site is hindered by deferred maintenance challenges.”
“In particular, I would like to make you aware of two backlogged deferred maintenance projects that will not be taken up until 2025,” Rep. Kaptur continued. “The first is the repair of Darby Lakefront Levee where erosion has done damage. The second is the rehabilitation of a levee on moist soil units 3 and 4. Together, these projects require $1.2 million and are critical for maintaining the continuity of ONWR. Given the urgency, these projects should be included in the Department of Interior Fiscal Year 2021 deferred maintenance project submission. These deferred maintenance projects at ONWR will enable hunters and anglers to continue enjoying the unique ecological resources you saw first-hand when you visited in 2019. Thank you in advance for your consideration and careful review of these deferred maintenance projects.”
The letter can be found online here.