The National Wildlife Refuge System in the U.S. is in trouble, with an operations and maintenance backlog of $1.6 billion, says the National Audubon Society. In a press conference with friendly lawmakers yesterday, the group drew particular attention to 10 refuges threatened by water pollution and invasive species. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.), an important player on the House Resources Committee, described the situation as a “crisis.” The refuge system — more than 500 refuges covering an overall area greater than Montana — has usually gotten short shrift, competing with national parks and forests for money and attention.

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