NWF Members at Work -- Dec-Jan 1999

12-01-1998 // NWF Staff

Yellowstone Buffalo Crucial to Fate of Other Wildlife, NWF Says
The National Wildlife Federation believes that current attacks on North America´s largest wild, free-roaming bison herd, in and around Yellowstone National Park, set a dangerous precedent with grim implications for management of other wildlife species.

That is why NWF has made its "Bringing Buffalo Back" initiative a top priority. The Federation already has urged its members to speak out against a National Park Service plan that would continue the senseless slaughter of buffalo that wander outside of Yellowstone. Now NWF also has a new area on its web site (www.nwf.org/wildlife/buffalo/) and is offering a brochure, a quarterly newsletter and a bumper sticker to inform the public about the issue.

The materials explain how Montana state officials justify slaughtering bison because ranchers fear they may transmit a disease called brucellosis that causes cows to abort unborn calves. Even though there is no evidence that buffalo have ever transmitted the disease to cattle, more than a third of the Yellowstone herd was killed during the winter of 1996-97 when they left the park to find food.

"The Montana state veterinarian has indicated that if he prevails with buffalo, he will take on elk," NWF notes. "State agricultural entities may ultimately be able to substitute agency control actions, such as slaughter, for traditional wildlife management."

The materials also outline a plan proposed by NWF and the InterTribal Bison Cooperative. It calls for trapping and testing for disease any buffalo that leave Yellowstone. Those that test negative would be relocated to tribal lands.

For free copies of NWF materials, contact Laura Siqueiros, Buffalo Project coordinator at NWF´s Rocky Mountain Field Office, at 303-786-8001.

Part of Settlement Grants Anglers Lake Access
Lake Michigan anglers are beneficiaries of the last major project in a $172 million settlement of a lawsuit brought by NWF and one of its affiliates, Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC).
The project, recently approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), calls for Consumers Energy Company to improve angler access to the lake at one of its power stations in Michigan by constructing a parking lot and a boardwalk across the dunes and resurfacing the Port Sheldon fishing pier.

In the early 1980s, NWF and MUCC filed suit against Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison, whose Ludington Pumped Storage Plant killed millions of Lake Michigan fish in its turbines every year. Settlement of the suit in 1994 was at the time second only to the Exxon Valdez case as the largest environmental damage settlement in American history. Under terms of the settlement, the companies agreed to help restore Lake Michigan fisheries and provide recreational benefits to people of the state for 19 years.

NWF and MUCC worked hard to create public support for improvements at the Port Sheldon pier. An effort spearheaded by MUCC member Mary Jane McBeath generated nearly 100 comments to FERC, representing the views of more than 1,700 people who were overwhelmingly in favor of the access plan.

Habitat Program Celebrates ´Firsts´ at Home, Abroad
A private home adjacent to a large park in Berlin is the first habitat certified by NWF in Germany and the third outside of North America. The others are located at a home in Switzerland and a lodge in the Peruvian Amazon that hosts hundreds of U.S. and Peruvian school children every year.
"It´s gratifying to know that word about NWF´s Backyard Wildlife HabitatTM program is reaching around the world," says Heather Carskaddan, program manager.

Meanwhile, on the home front, NWF has certified the first backyard habitats at a Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) development in Clemson, South Carolina. Designed by landscape architecture students at Clemson University and installed by teams of home owners, volunteers and children enrolled in a program for at-risk elementary students, the backyard habitats at five new homes feature easy-to-maintain native plants.

Through a special partnership, NWF advises HFHI about incorporating environmentally sensitive siting and landscaping into the homes it builds for low-income families.

Environmental Excellence Goal of Missouri Group
The Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM), one of NWF´s affiliates, has joined with that state´s chambers of commerce, the state government and a local environmental organization to encourage citizens to take individual action to save Missouri´s natural resources.
The statewide program, called Choose Environmental Excellence, was inspired by the efforts of Bridging the Gap, a recycling group located in Kansas City, and the city of Branson, which has promoted environmental consciousness throughout its tourist industry.

CFM and its partners are helping local communities design programs for motivating residents to take simple steps such as picking up litter, not letting water faucets run unnecessarily and repairing or reusing as many household items as possible.

"We´re also specifically focusing on what people can do to create or maintain wildlife habitat on their own property," says Charles Davidson, editor of CFM´s newspaper, Missouri Wildlife.

NWF Helps Defend Recovery Program for Mexican Wolf
NWF has joined 12 other conservation organizations and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in federal court to defend the Mexican gray wolf recovery program against a lawsuit brought by nine New Mexico and Arizona ranching organizations.
Last spring, following 14 public meetings, three formal public hearings, consideration of more than 18,000 comments and a full environmental impact statement process, the Fish and Wildlife Service released three family groups of endangered Mexican gray wolves into Arizona´s Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. At the same time, nine groups representing cattle and sheep ranchers filed suit challenging the reintroduction plan.

"The reintroduction program is being carried out under the flexible-management provisions of the Endangered Species Act, which permit ranchers to defend their livestock against potential wolf attacks," says John Kostyack, NWF endangered species counsel. "This is the same kind of flexible management used in the reintroduction of gray wolves into Yellowstone and central Idaho, the most successful wildlife recovery effort so far in the nation´s history."

NWF helped spearhead congressional approval of the flexible-management provisions in 1982 and participated in the public hearing process in favor of reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf.

Peregrine Falcon Recovery Dramatic But Not Secure
Although the peregrine falcon has recovered sufficiently in the eastern United States to justify downlisting it from endangered to threatened, its recovery is not secure enough to warrant completely removing it from the protected list, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed.
That´s the conclusion of a new NWF report, "Cautious Hope: The Recovery of the Peregrine Falcon in the Northeastern United States."

The report notes that the northeast recovery region--Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and the Adirondack region of New York--now has 50 naturally nesting pairs, twice the original recovery goal for upgrading the species to threatened. There are at least 174 pairs throughout the eastern United States, approaching the goal of 175 to 200 pairs set in 1987.

The report adds that the falcon´s decline stemmed almost exclusively from the existence of the pesticide DDT in the environment, a factor that was much easier to reverse than habitat loss. Thanks to the banning of DDT in 1972, captive-breeding programs and the protection provided under the Endangered Species Act, the birds were able to recover relatively quickly.

While the peregrine is an important Endangered Species Act success story, the report concludes, the law could operate much more efficiently if the listing process were streamlined and speeded up, and if there were better funding for species recovery plans and protection of critical habitat.

Vermont College Uses SmartWood Certified Timber
NWF´s SmartWood certification of Vermont Family Forests for ecologically sound forestry practices has already paid off for the group of 31 small landowners.

Vermont´s Middlebury College has announced that it will use certified wood products to build its new Bicentennial Hall--the largest academic construction project in the country to do so. Most of the 120,000 board feet of timber will come from members of Vermont Family Forests, which is the first source of certified wood in the state.

"By using certified wood, Middlebury College is helping to protect forest habitats for animals while contributing to robust, diversified local and regional economies," says Alan Calfee, coordinator of the NWF/SmartWood program.

Community Service Focus of NWF´s Summer Summits
was a hanConservation ds-on experience for those attending NWF´s Conservation Summits® last summer, as participants of all ages volunteered for a variety of community-service projects in local communities.

More than 200 individuals at the Pacific Northwest Summit in Bellingham, Washington, pitched in to weed, mulch and trim bushes along nature trails, at a city park, at a camp for the disabled and at a nursery where native plants are grown to be planted along salmon streams. Other individuals picked up litter along trails and stenciled storm drains with warnings about dumping toxic materials.

During a similar community service day at the Adirondacks Summit in New York, 150 adults and children cleaned up and restored nature trails in the town of Ticonderoga and on the grounds of a nearby learning center.

"We wanted to provide an opportunity for summiteers to give something back to the communities where summits are held and in the process inspire them to get involved in similar efforts back home," says Niki Carr, NWF´s summit coordinator.

Endangered Species Campaign Focuses on 25 Rare Species
Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, NWF has launched a campaign called "Save Endangered Species: Keep the Wild Alive." The primary focus will be on 25 specific species and the conservation issues they represent.
"Some of the species are success stories; some are still declining; and some are too early to tell," says Jeff Flocken, NWF´s endangered species outreach coordinator. "But they all have one thing in common: There is still hope for them, and for all similar species."

The 25 species are:

  • Grizzly bear: A carnivore requiring a wide range, it suffers from habitat loss and human encroachment. (See this issue´s "Helping a Great Bear Hang On".)
  • Whooping crane: Captive-breeding successes have helped, but the species is still vulnerable to habitat loss from agriculture and development.
  • Bald eagle: At top of the food chain, it suffered from toxics in its prey; pesticide bans allowed recovery.
  • Canada lynx: Politics have delayed listing, but citizen pressure may force action.
  • Dwarf wedge mussel: Victim of pollution, the species provides a warning that waters are far from healthful.
  • Western prairie fringed orchid: The plant is found only in remnants of disappearing tallgrass prairie.
  • Florida panther: Its numbers have dwindled so low that it is highly vulnerable to disease and genetic deficiencies.
  • Utah prairie dog: It is a favorite target of cattle ranchers who see it as a grazing-lands competitor.
  • Chinook salmon: The species is a victim of dams, river siltation and pollution from logging, mining and agriculture.
  • Mauna Kea silversword: It is a plant plagued by exotic species with no natural predators.
  • Kemp´s ridley sea turtle: Its nesting grounds have been destroyed by beach development.
  • Gray wolf: The myths and fears that fueled previous extermination now threaten reintroduction programs.
  • Tiger: The trade in body parts for Chinese folk medicines has led to rampant poaching.
  • Indiana bat: Too little is known about this under-appreciated species to plan recovery.
  • Karner blue butterfly: It is vulnerable because it depends on one wild plant species for food.
  • Pondberry: It is one of many plants and animals that are declining because of wetlands loss.
  • Attwater´s greater prairie chicken: Over-hunting and conversion of prairies to agriculture have devastated it.
  • Sonoran pronghorn: One of many species that cross borders, it requires help from both the United States and Mexico.
  • Arroyo southwestern toad: Like many amphibians, this species is threatened by disease, climate change, pollution and habitat loss.
  • Desert tortoise: Proponents of habitat conservation plans are enlisting private landowners to help save it.
  • Golden-cheeked warbler: The species is typical of neotropical migrant songbirds whose winter and summer habitats are disappearing.
  • Humpback whale: The whaling industry no longer poses a threat, but the species is still threatened by ocean pollution.
  • Red-cockaded woodpecker: A victim of clear-cutting, its survival depends on reintroduction of fire into mature pine forests.
  • Indigo macaw: Illegal capture of the species for the exotic pet trade has devastated populations.
  • Rosy periwinkle: A source of a potent cancer drug, the plant illustrates the practical value of protecting rare species.

    Around the Nation
    The Georgia Wildlife Federation, one of NWF´s affiliates, is selling plants native to the Southeast via the Internet. An on-line catalog features photos and descriptions of more than 100 shrubs, vines and perennials, along with information about each plant´s value for wildlife. Also offered are special garden collections, such as "Hummingbird Cafe" and "Butterfly Bistro."

The Natural Resources Council of Maine, another NWF affiliate, has issued a "Buying Guide to Chlorine-Free Paper" that explains why you should buy chlorine-free paper (helps keep highly toxic dioxin out of the environment) and where to find it at your grocery store or through a paper supplier. For a free copy, call Beth Dimond at 1-800-287-2345 or e-mail bdimond@nrcm.org. You also can view or download the brochure at www.nrcm.org.

 

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