Friends of Forsythe, and similar volunteer and community-partnership initiatives at the Forsythe Wildlife Refuge and other national preserves, move a step closer to reauthorization in Washington.

Congressman Jon Runyan addresses Ocean County Mayors during Ocean County Mayor's Breakfast Week of January 22nd (Tom Mongelli, Townsquare Media NJ)

Congressman Jon Runyan's measure to extend the programs, HR 1300, won approval by the House Committee on Natural Resources. It now moves on to a full House vote.

Runyan expresses satisfaction. "Volunteers are the lifeblood of our National Wildlife Refuge system,” he said in a prepared statement. “In South Jersey the ‘Friends of Forsythe’ volunteer group has been the model example of what good a well organized group of volunteers can do for our natural treasures.”

Friends of Forsythe board member Mary Harper acknowledged Runyan's advocacy, saying that his "...dedication to the conservation of our national natural heritage is exemplary and deeply appreciated by our volunteers and members.”

The amended bill calls for a three-year reauthorization, from fiscal 2015 thorugh fiscal 2017.

The 562 sites in America's National Wildlife Refuge System contain 148 million acres of federal land  Volunteers at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Ocean and Atlantic Counties logged some 14,000 hours in 2012, about the same as seven full-time workers. The Forsythe Refuge attracts about 250,000 visitors a year.

Runyan returns to Townsquare Media New Jersey's studios to take your calls, questions and comments during "Ask The Congressman," May 29 at 7 PM over WOBM-FM/AM and streaming live on our web page. You can also submit questions to