Fish and Wildlife Service director encourages visitors to take advantage of public spaces


SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY)- The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge welcomed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director as part of her tour to refuges.

“Every place I go to is a little different but this one is fantastic,” said Aurelia Skipwith, who is the director.

Skipwith says she’s been to refuges to show people that they are open and great places to practice social distancing.

“There is no better place to social distance than in our public lands,” she said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns more than 850 million acres of land and water. Skipwith says she was impressed with the Great Dismal Swamp, not only because of its nature conservation, but its rich history of being involved with the Underground Railroad and the Maroon colonies, that served as a refuge for people fleeing safety.

“The preservation of these sites, as well as the conservation, allows us to have wildlife that we can go out and see, as well as get the history that’s a part our American history. The Fish and Wildlife Service allows us to do both,” she said.

Along with celebrating the expansion of the Great Dismal Swamp, Skipwith says she is also excited about the possibility of getting much-needed funding for the refuges.

The U. S. Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act in June and if passed by the House of Representatives, would provide permanent funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

That money would help with a $1.3 billion backlog of deferred maintenance projects for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

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