Stimulus Funding Awarded to Rehabilitate Building, Double Size of Youth Conservation Corps at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

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Stimulus Funding Awarded to Rehabilitate Building, Double Size of Youth Conservation Corps at Back Bay National Wildlife RefugeVirginia Beach, Va. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded a $528,000 contract under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) to TTR, L.L.C., also known as Casa Builders, of Virginia Beach to make structural repairs and energy-efficient improvements to a former residence on Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) property along Sandbridge Road. The Refuge will move its offices, currently located a distance from the city, into the rehabilitated in-town facility in 2010 to better service visitors and the community, according to Jared Brandwein, Refuge Manager.

According to Brandwein, an additional nearly $30,000 in Recovery Act funding enabled the Refuge to double the size of its Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program this summer. Through the YCC program, the Service hires high-school students at national wildlife refuges throughout the U.S. to offer job experience in the field of wildlife conservation. Two crews – a total of twelve YCC enrollees and three leaders – are busy rehabilitating trails and fences, planting trees and shrubs, and thinning reforestation sites. They are also receiving valuable training in environmental education.

“The project funding for Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge will both preserve this area as a sanctuary for the thousands of wildlife and endangered species, and expand the Refuge’s successful Youth Conservation Corps summer program,” said U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D). “At the same time, the funds will help support Virginia’s ecotourism and spur economic development in the Virginia Beach area.”

“These investments and energy improvements at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge will provide jobs to high school students through a national service program while also supporting efforts to preserve our state’s wildlife population,” said U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D). 
 
“Back Bay is a national treasure, and it’s a great example of how economic recovery funds can help create jobs and protect the environment here in Hampton Roads,” said U.S. Representative Congressman Glenn C. Nye (D-2nd). “I’m proud to have supported the recovery act that provided this funding for Back Bay, and I look forward to the new office space once it’s complete.”

The Service purchased the property on Sandbridge Road in 2004 with an allocation from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Friends of Back Bay were instrumental in advocating and securing funding for the acquisition, according to Brandwein.
 
“After working with Congress for 20 years and receiving over $23 million to purchase and preserve land around Back Bay, I am delighted to see stimulus money being used to renovate the ‘Rightmeyer House’. This facility will serve the public and staff at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge well, as they enjoy and protect this national treasure,” said Molly P. Brown, president of the Friends of Back Bay.
 
TTR, L.L.C., (Casa Builders) will make a number of improvements to the former Sandbridge Road residence, named the “Rightmeyer House” for the locally famous architect who designed the building. The work will entail weatherproofing and stabilizing its exterior by replacing the roof and cedar siding, windows, and doors; replacing the building’s heating and cooling systems; providing accessible ramps and restrooms required for public buildings; and other improvements.

Funding for these projects and hundreds more across the nation comes from the Recovery Act passed earlier this year. Of the $3 billion appropriated to the Department of the Interior, the Recovery Act provides $280 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – which includes $115 million for construction, repair and energy efficiency retrofit projects at Service facilities, and $165 million for habitat restoration, deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects. Projects will immediately create local jobs in the communities where they are located, while stimulating long-term employment and economic opportunities for the American public.

The Service will invest nearly $2 million of Recovery Act funding in economic stimulus projects at national wildlife refuges in Virginia, including Back Bay.

Recovery Act projects address long-standing priority needs identified by the Service through its capital planning process. The agency worked through a rigorous merit-based process to identify and prioritize investments meeting the criteria put forth in the Recovery Act: namely, that a project addresses the Department’s highest priority mission needs; generates the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time; and creates lasting value for the American public.

For a full list of funded projects nationwide, go to the Department’s Recovery Web Site at http://recovery.doi.gov/. For a list of Service projects, click on the Service’s logo at the bottom of the page. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on the recovery web site, which will include an interactive map that enables the public to track where and how the Department’s recovery dollars are being spent.  In addition, the public can submit questions, comments or concerns at recoveryact [at] fws [dot] gov.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.