NWF Members at Work -- Aug-Sep 1997

News on NWF works and actions for Aug - Sep 1997

08-01-1997 // NWF Staff

NWF Helps Force EPA To Protect Great Waters

In a settlement reached with the Federation and two other organizations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to protect the public and the nation´s "Great Waters," such as the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Lake Champlain, from air pollutants.

In July 1996, NWF, the Sierra Club and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation sued EPA for failing to implement the Great Waters Program as required by the 1990 Clean Air Act. Under the terms of the settlement, EPA agrees to report to Congress on the link between air pollution and water quality, and to ensure that measures to protect public health and the environment from air pollution that falls on the nation´s waters are in place by November 2000.

At the time they filed suit, NWF and the other conservation groups released a report, "Dirty Air, Dirty Water: Air Pollution Spoils America´s Great Waters," which used EPA´s own data to show that airborne toxics are a major source of water pollution in the nation´s waters. For example, 95 percent of the lead in many of the Great Lakes comes directly from air pollution; 90 percent of the mercury in Lake Superior has fallen from the air; and as much as 40 percent of the nitrogen that taints the Chesapeake Bay each year comes from airborne pollution, mostly from tail-pipe emissions.

´Danger Tree´ Rule Robs Wildlife of Vital Habitat

The Federation has petitioned the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to amend its logging safety standard to protect snags (standing dead trees) and cavity trees that provide critical wildlife habitat.

OSHA rules now require that on all logging jobs nationwide every "danger tree" that may present a hazard to loggers because of defects must be "felled, removed or avoided." However, NWF says, these trees are valuable elements of the forest ecosystem. At least 85 species of North American birds and more than 50 species of mammals use such trees for dens, feeding and raising young. Snag- and cavity-dependent wild- life include several rare, threatened and endangered species in northern New England, such as the black-backed woodpecker, hermit thrush and pine marten.

"The OSHA danger tree´ rule creates a lose-lose situation that benefits neither wildlife nor forestry workers," says Mark Lorenzo, research manager for NWF´s Northeast Natural Resource Center. Felling snags or cavity trees is itself hazardous, and OSHA´s current rule forces loggers to cut and remove such trees instead of providing options for safely avoiding them. "OSHA can better improve worker safety with less destruction of wildlife habitat by amending its rule and promoting reasonable and prudent avoidance of ´danger trees´," Lorenzo says.

Government Falls Short on Columbia River Basin Plan

After three years of deliberations, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have failed to come up with a management plan that would adequately protect 75 million acres of public lands in the Columbia River watershed upstream from Bonneville Dam on the Washington-Oregon border.

"Massive public input will be necessary to persuade the agencies and the administration to do the right thing," says Rich Day, director of NWF´s Northern Rockies Project Office in Montana.

Government scientists have at last confirmed conservationists´ claims that decades of logging, grazing, roadbuilding, mining and fire suppression have severely degraded forests, watersheds and grasslands in seven northwestern states. "But there is an obvious disconnect between the government´s own science and the seven possible management plans it proposes," says Rick Brown, resource specialist in NWF´s Western Natural Resource Center in Oregon. "None goes far enough to conserve biological diversity or protect roadless wildlands, old-growth forests and healthy grasslands."

Brown says the government´s preferred alternative is to log the forests back to health through aggressive removal of excess trees that have resulted from years of fire suppression and livestock grazing, which reduces the grass that competes with tree seedlings. But this plan fails to consider the threat that roadbuilding and intensive logging would pose to soil, watersheds and wildlife habitat, he says.

To find out what you can do to help, contact NWF's Northern Rockies Regional Center or check NWF´s website at www.nwf.org.

Zoo, NWF Poll Kids on New Endangered Species Plans

The San Diego Zoo´s webpage is featuring a special Youth Poll, created by NWF´s Endangered Habitats Team, that encourages young people to learn about and express their opinions on Habitat Conservation Plans, a new approach to protecting endangered species.

The poll is part of an ongoing feature of the website, known as "Vital Votes," that gives students a chance to log their opinions on scientific issues. The poll explains the pros and cons of these agreements between the federal government and landowners. It asks young people to consider whether these new plans really conserve habitat, address the needs of landowners and contribute toward recovery of endangered species. Included are several articles that provide more background and examples of specific plans.

Viewers can then vote on the question, "Should Habitat Conservation Plans be supported as they are, changed, or done away with?" and also explain the reasons for their opinion.

Education Program To Accompany Giant Screen Film on Wolves

NWF has received a $255,000 grant from the Toyota Foundation to produce "Wolf Tracks," a children´s education program related to the upcoming NWF IMAX® film, Cry Wolf.

Patterned after the Federation´s popular Animal Tracks® program, Wolf Tracks will feature teacher training workshops and an Action Pack with teacher materials and classroom activities built around the topic of wolves. Materials will be available when the film premieres in theaters, probably early in 1999.

"This is an exciting opportunity to extend the impact of a major NWF film into the nation´s classrooms," says Margaret Tunstall, NWF´s director of classroom-related activities.

Conferees Learn To Speak Out on Habitat Plans

Several hundred people are now better equipped to influence development of Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) around the country, thanks to the first national conference on HCPs, sponsored recently by NWF.

More than 280 people--grassroots activists, federal and state wildlife agency officials, industry representatives and Congressional staffers--attended the Washington, D.C., conference in May to learn more about these controversial agreements between the federal government and landowners for protecting endangered species.

"Through this conference, NWF has framed the debate on the cutting-edge issue of HCPs," says Mark Van Putten, NWF president and CEO. "We also helped to educate and energize grassroots activists so they could go back home and make a difference with the HCPs being developed in their communities."

NWF´s Western Natural Resource Center will hold a public forum July 26 to give Oregonians an unprecedented opportunity to speak out early on a proposed HCP for the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests. These comprise one of the largest unfragmented portions of temperate rainforest in the lower 48 states and are home to nine native races of salmon, the spotted owl and the marbled murrelet.

"In many cases, the public is locked out of the planning process and can comment only after many of the issues already have been decided," says Sybil Ackerman, endangered habitats program assistant in NWF´s western center. "It´s only by involving people at an early stage that a better plan can be made."

Panel Suggests Continuation of Baiting Ban

A committee of natural resource professionals, including NWF staff members, has urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue its ban on using bait to hunt waterfowl.

At the same time, the committee said, the government should fine-tune the regulations to make the law more easily understood.

NWF has long opposed the practice of spreading corn or other grain in the water or on the ground to attract ducks and geese, says NWF Senior Scientist Doug Inkley who served on the committee.

According to Dan Limmer, an NWF regional executive and former wildlife enforcement officer, "Hunters have plenty of opportunities to hunt waterfowl successfully while adhering to the highest ethical standards of fair chase."

Magazines Win Major Awards for Excellence

All four of NWF´s magazines were honored recently by organizations that recognize excellence in publishing.

Your Big Backyard® magazine, a publication for preschoolers, collected three awards from the Educational Press Association of America (EdPress)--for Best Design, Most Improved Publication of 1997 and Best Environmental Impact Publication.

EdPress, which selects winners from among more than 2,000 publications, also presented Ranger Rick® magazine with Distinguished Achievement Awards in four categories: One-Theme Issue (wetlands), Feature Article, Picture Story and Artwork.

For the 15th consecutive year, National Wildlife and International Wildlife have been honored by Pictures Of The Year, the most prestigious photojournalism competition in the United States. National Wildlife won third place for Best Use of Photographs in a Magazine and for a Pictorial. The two magazines also won three Awards of Excellence in the Science/Natural History category.

Finally, International Wildlife placed second for Best Travel News/Investigative Reporting in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition for an article on rhino poaching in Zimbabwe.

Study Reports Progress Along Mexican Border

During negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement, NWF was a leader in calling for action by the United States and Mexico to improve water treatment and sewage systems that had been overwhelmed by rapid industrial development along the border.

Now, four years later, an NWF study finds that two binational institutions created specifically to deal with border pollution are making definite progress. While it is still too early to see actual cleanup, the Border Environment Cooperation Commission has certified 12 environmental infrastructure projects, five of which have been approved for funding by the North American Development Bank. More than 70 other applications are in various stages of approval.

The 12 certified projects will be built in four U.S. states and four Mexican states at a cost of more than $80 million and will provide 250,000 residents of border communities with improved drinking water, wastewater treatment and solid-waste management.

Toxic Swim Event Highlights River Pollution Problems

More than 60 students, anglers, canoeists, rafters and swimmers recently donned hazardous material cleanup suits and braved the waters of the Columbia River in Oregon to dramatize pollution problems.

The "Toxic Swim" was the brainchild of NWF´s Western Campus Ecology Organizer Clare Bastable and Portland law student Brent Foster. It was inspired, says Bastable, by the Columbia´s rank as the most carcinogenic river in the country, according to data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pollutants include dioxin from a dozen pulp and paper mills along the river, PCBs, pesticides and leftover waste from the Hanford, Washington, nuclear test facility, she adds.

Students from eight colleges in Oregon and Washington also participated in the event by distributing information and holding workshops on what campuses can do to help solve the problem, such as purchasing chlorine-free paper to reduce dioxin emissions.

Report from Tucson, Arizona: NWF´s 61st Annual Meeting

Delegates Elect Gerald R. Barber NWF Chair
Gerald R. Barber, a landscape architect from Ridgeland, Mississippi, was elected Chair of the National Wildlife Federation at its annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona.

The elected tax assessor of Madison County, Mississippi, Barber has served as NWF´s Central Region Vice Chair since 1993 and has served on NWF´s board since 1990.

"NWF derives its strength from a partnership of state affiliates, like-minded conservation organizations, individuals and diverse groups to accomplish a shared conservation agenda," says Barber. "These are tremendously pivotal times for conservationists, and NWF is poised to inspire common-sense conservationists to work for the best use of this great nation´s resources."

Barber has been active in myriad conservation initiatives for 25 years and is co-founder of the Delta Environmental Land Trust Association, a multi-state conservation easement program that preserves bottomland hardwoods in the Mississippi River Delta.

He is married to Elizabeth Rooks Barber, Executive Director of the Mississippi Wildlife Federation.

Delegates Vote in Two Board Members at Tucson Meeting
Delegates at NWF´s 61st annual meeting elected two new directors:

  • Jim Baldock, Waukesha, Wisconsin, is a consultant for World Marketing Alliance Financial Services, a fully diversified financial services organization.

  • Spencer Tomb, Manahattan, Kansas, is a botany professor at Kansas State University where he teaches and conducts research in plant systematics.

NWF Awards Cite Innovation, High Achievement
The National Conservation Achievement Awards were established in 1965 with funds donated by Sears, Roebuck & Co. Presented at each annual meeting, these awards recognize individuals and organizations that have been leaders in spreading the conservation message and protecting natural resources. This year´s winners:

  • Missouri Stream Team, made up of 800 teams and 40,000 volunteers, works to solve problems such as stream pollution, alteration and neglect.

  • Jim Nelson, U.S. Forest Service Forest Supervisor for the Humboldt and Toiyabe National Forests, for his commitment to reclaiming rangelands and streamside habitat in the face of a militant group of ranchers, miners and local government officials who belong to the so-called "County Supremacy" movement which rejects federal jurisdiction over public lands, openly defying rangeland laws that protect the environment.

  • Lynda Taylor, U.S. Director of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission, for her accomplishments in promoting sustainable development along the border with Mexico.

  • Thad Cochran, senior Republican Senator from Mississippi, for his key role in funding the Farm Bill, which, when it passed, was one of the few environmental bright spots of the 104th Congress. Sen. Cochran staunchly defended funding for the Conservation Reserve Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. He also authored the Mississippi Wilderness Act, the first federal legislation passed for protection of lands in that state.

  • Center for Environment, Commerce and Energy, the nation´s oldest African American-led environmental group, for its promotion of practical solutions to energy, clean air and clean water issues.

  • Ted Williams, conservation writer for 27 years, for his achievements in educating and inspiring the American public about key resource issues, often prodding his readers into taking action to conserve natural resources.

  • Bass Pro Shops for promotion of conservation initiatives as an integral part of its business. It contributed more than $1 million to the Missouri Department of Conservation for its programs and years ago successfully called upon its customers to support the adoption of a 1/8 of 1 percent state sales tax dedicated exclusively to conservation programs.

  • New Hampshire Wildlife Federation for its conservation-education programs that reach out to a broad spectrum of citizen conservationists. The group partnered with NWF to produce a study report, "The Effect of Takings Legislation on New Hampshire Communities." This report detailed the economic impact of takings legislation on state and local budgets and became a model for other NWF affiliates dealing with the same issue in their states.

  • Thomas Eisner, director of the Cornell Institute for Research and Chemical Ecology, for his ability to translate and articulate complex scientific information into language that the general public can understand. He also brokered the first contract between an international pharmaceutical company and a developing nation (Merck & Costa Rica) in which industry agreed to pay in advance to prospect for chemical formulas while training the nation´s biologists to look for the chemicals themselves.

  • Neuse River Foundation for its innovative methods of engaging volunteers to act on behalf of improved water quality for this major North Carolina river.

  • Arthur Bonner & Rudi Mattoni for teaming to promote the recovery of the endangered Palos Verde butterfly.

  • Elizabeth C. Titus Putnam, founding president of the Student Conservation Association, which has for 40 years placed 30,000 volunteers in the nation´s parks to build trails and conduct nature-education programs for visitors.

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