“Throughout his 37-year career in Congress, Norm Dicks was a champion of the National Wildlife Refuge System and a true friend of the Department of the Interior. Congressman Dicks’ efforts at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge helped to restore Puget Sound and the historic salmon runs that are a vital part of this area’s natural heritage,” said Secretary Jewell. “His commitment to our partnership with the Nisqually Tribe, local leaders and other stakeholders enabled us to expand the refuge and undertake the largest estuary restoration project in the Pacific Northwest. This small act we are taking today represents one example of the large legacy he leaves for America’s public lands and national treasures across the country.”
“The restoration of the Nisqually River Delta is historic conservation achievement – one that couldn't have happened without the sustained support of former Congressman Norm Dicks,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Whether here at Nisqually or across the nation, Congressman Dicks has been a staunch ally of wildlife conservation for decades. I can’t think of a more fitting way to honor his service than dedicating the Nisqually visitor center in his name.”
Dicks represented Washington’s Sixth Congressional District from 1977 to 2013, serving on the House Appropriations Committee, where he strongly supported the refuge system and conservation efforts in the State of Washington and across the country, including the Nisqually Indian Tribe’s salmon recovery efforts in South Puget Sound. Honoring his legacy, Congress directed the renaming of the visitor center as part of the 2014 Appropriations Act.
During the ceremony, the Nisqually Canoe Family performed traditional songs. Jewell, Ashe, Congressman Dicks, Senator Cantwell, Congressman Heck, Congressman Kilmer, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, and representatives of partner organizations, such as the Nisqually River Council, provided remarks honoring the Congressman.
Before the ceremony, the Secretary met with children from Evergreen Elementary in Shelton, Wash. The third grade students were at the refuge to take part in an environmental education program that provides a hands-on opportunity for children to connect with the fish, wildlife, and habitats of the Nisqually River delta.
In 1974, Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect the delta and its diversity of fish and wildlife habitats. While most major estuaries in the state have been filled, dredged, or developed, Nisqually River's has been set aside for wildlife. The Nisqually estuary was restored in 2009 by removing dikes and reconnecting 762 acres with the tides of Puget Sound. This is the largest estuary restoration project in the Pacific Northwest and an important step in the recovery of Puget Sound.
To learn more about the estuary restoration, visit http://usfwspacific.tumblr.com/.
To learn more about the refuge, visit http://www.fws.gov/refuge/nisqually/.