The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is New England's most important contribution to the national effort to save the waterfowl of North America. Many million Americans have a direct stake in the success of this effort: the 2,000,00o waterfowl hunters, the millions who find recreation and esthetic pleasure in observing and photographing the birds, and all those, whom there is no way of counting, who understand the value of preserving wildlife as part of America's natural heritage.
During the several generations in which the United States has been converted from a land preeminently wild and unsettled into an industrial and agricultural country, the waterfowl have been driven from most of the areas where they once lived. During the same span of years, we have seen the rise and decline of market gunning and the steady and continuing rise of hunting for sport.
In this period there have been at least three major declines in the waterfowl population. From the first two, which reached their respective low points in 1915 and in the 1930's-- there was a partial recovery. The third great decline began in 1944. The downward sweep of such a cyclic decline-perhaps this, or the next, or the next-may reduce the flocks of waterfowl to so low a point that there can be no recovery.
To save the wild fowl, one of the most important things we can do is to reserve for their use areas which provide them with the marshes and ponds, the natural foods and the sanctuary that they need in order to live in the midst of our civilization. Two hundred national waterfowl refuges scattered over the United States now provide these things. Whatever else waterfowl conservation demands, this is essential.