Wildlife refuge cuts kids programs

The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge no longer will provide environmental education for many children, according to a report released Thursday.

Previously, staff members feared inadequate federal funding would force the refuge to drop the programs.

Defenders of Wildlife, a national conservation organization, released the "Refuges at Risk" report.

It highlights Nisqually and nine other refuges nationwide affected by budget reductions.

Komachin Middle School in Lacey was affected by the cut.

"It was great to watch them experience wildlife ... rather than just being taught by a book in a classroom," Raven Skydancer, a science teacher at Komachin, said in a news release. "If we don't teach our children to appreciate their environment, how will they know how to look after it?"

Nisqually has secured money designated to building an Environmental Education Center, but it will not be adequately staffed. Wildlife refuges nationwide have an operations and maintenance backlog of $2.5 billion.