Thank you Senator Crapo. I’d like to join you in welcoming Director Steve Williams. I think this is the first time he has appeared before this Committee since his confirmation hearing.
Last week’s celebration of the centennial of the National Wildlife Refuge system is a testament to the fine work of the Fish and Wildlife Service. In these difficult fiscal times, the Service’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2004 is nearly $4 million more than requested last year. While I will have concerns about some of the funding requests and reductions, I am confident that the Service’s request will focus resources on their mission to work to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, their plants and their habitats for the benefit of the American people.
We need to continue to protect and conserve our valuable resources by committing adequate fiscal resources to get the job done.
Mr. Williams, I look forward to hearing your testimony.