NWF Members at Work: February/March 1999
How National Wildlife Federation is making a difference
Touring Trunks Educate School Kids About Buffalo
As part of its "Bringing Buffalo Back" initiative, NWF is offering school children across the country an opportunity to learn about the animals by exploringartifacts in special boxes that will tour among the nation´s classrooms.
Assembled by NWF´s Rocky Mountain Field Office, the boxes feature buffalo tails, teeth and hair, as well traditional Native American items such as buffalo-fat soap, buffalo-bone awls and bowls made from horns. Also included are a video, teacher´s guide, a camera for recording student activities and a journal that will travel from one school to the next.
For more information on reserving a trunk for your classroom, contact Laura Siqueiros, NWF´s Buffalo Project coordinator, at 303-786-8001. To find out more about threats to the buffalo and what NWF is doing to help, check out the Federation´s web site at www.nwf.org/wildlife/buffalo/.
NWF Teams with Lyons Falls Paper Company To Pioneer SmartWood Paper Production
The National Wildlife Federation and a small paper company in upstate New York made history recently when the world´s first printing paper guaranteed to be made of wood from environmentally well-managed forests rolled off the company´s machines.
NWF played two crucial roles in the event: It certified the New York manufacturer, Lyons Falls Pulp and Paper Company, as the first paper mill to process SmartWood-certified wood, and it was the first customer for the new paper. NWF placed orders for 2 million pounds a year of the uncoated stock to use for inserts in its four magazines, as well as for direct mail brochures, catalog order forms, and the SmartWood newsletter published by NWF´s Northeastern Field Office in Vermont.
Since 1995, the northeast center has administered the Rainforest Alliance´s SmartWood program in the northeastern United States, certifying more than 100,000 acres of public and private forest lands that produce timber while conserving wildlife habitat. SmartWood also certifies companies that manufacture wood products, including furniture, flooring and musical instruments.
In the case of Lyons Falls, certification guarantees that 70 percent of the virgin fiber in its paper comes from SmartWood-certified sources.
At first glance, Lyons Falls seems an unlikely candidate for such a manufacturing milestone. Located in the foothills of the Adirondacks 90 miles northeast of Syracuse, the company bills itself as "a small company in an industry of giants." With just two paper machines, one of them 103 years old, the plant processes only about 130 cords of wood a day at full production.
Yet Lyons Falls has proved to be an industry leader in environmental stewardship. It was the first company in the United States to make totally chlorine-free printing, writing and specialty papers, and it uses high-yield pulp, which requires fewer trees per ton of paper.
Attracted by the company´s high-quality chlorine-free stock, NWF has purchased paper from Lyons Falls for the past six years and was anxious to be first in line for the SmartWood-certified paper. "If we can buy a product that is cost competitive and also manufactured in an environmentally responsible way, that´s the best of both worlds," says Laura Hickey, NWF production director.
SmartWood certification of Lyons Falls grew out of more than two years of discussions between the company and Hickey, NWF SmartWood Coordinator Alan Calfee and northeast center Director Eric Palola. Because NWF was in the awkward position of both certifier and customer, the Federation hired William Holtzman, a State University of New York professor emeritus of paper science to conduct an independent assessment of the company. "This broke new ground in terms of evaluating a highly technical manufacturing process," says Calfee. "It´s very different than certifying a sawmill."
"We give a tremendous amount of credit to the people at Lyons Falls for their leadership and persistence in making SmartWood-certified paper a reality," Palola says.
Already, the precedent-setting paper run at Lyons Falls is sending shock waves through the industry. "We´ve proved that certification is possible at a paper plant, despite industry complaints that it would be too unwieldy and too costly to track fibers through the paper-making process to make sure they came from certified forests," adds Palola.
By committing itself to using SmartWood-certified paper, NWF hopes to convince other publishers and major paper purchasers such as catalog sales companies to follow suit. "The visibility of this paper in our materials demonstrates to people that consumers have a choice," Calfee says.
States Log Key Conservation Wins in Election ´98
In last fall´s election, there were some big wins--and a few losses--for conservation measures endorsed by NWF and its state affiliates. For example:
Florida: In a major win for one of NWF´s affiliates, the Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF), voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment that will allow the state to continue using low-interest bonds to set aside endangered land at today´s prices and also make it more difficult to sell off public lands originally bought for conservation. The amendment, which was heavily endorsed by FWF, also combines responsibilities for managing Florida´s wildlife and marine and freshwater fisheries into one agency--a move FWF says was needed to end "yo-yo management" of state fisheries.
Missouri: Another of NWF´s affiliates, the Conservation Federation of Missouri, helped pass a clean-water amendment authorizing the state to issue bonds that will fund rural water and sewer projects and stormwater-control projects in urban areas.
Colorado: Citizens okayed new regulations to reduce odor and water pollution from large commercial hog farms. The measure was supported by NWF´s Rocky Mountain Natural Resource Center and an NWF affiliate, the Colorado Wildlife Federation.
Nebraska: The Nebraska Wildlife Federation, another NWF affiliate, helped defeat an amendment that would have limited tax increases by state and local governments. In practice, it would have meant that governments could not raise poaching fines, for example, above the rate of inflation without taking the issue to the voters.
Among the major disappointments:
Georgia: Voters rejected a proposed Heritage Fund that would have raised as much as $35 million a year for land protection through a small increase in the real-estate transfer tax. NWF affiliate, the Georgia Wildlife Federation, had worked hard to get the measure on the ballot.
California: An Air Quality Improvement Initiative that appeared on the ballot through the efforts of NWF´s newest affiliate, the Planning and Conservation League of California, went down to defeat. The measure would have offered tax credits to those who voluntarily invest in new equipment to reduce air pollution. The league estimates these actions would have removed more than 100 tons of nitrogen oxides per day from California´s air.
NWF Opposes Lack of Protection for Sea Turtles
NWF is pressing the U.S. State Department not to weaken its law protecting endangered sea turtles from death in shrimp nets, despite a final ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the law violates international free-trade rules.
The law mandates that countries wishing to export shrimp to the United States require all of their shrimpers to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), trapdoors that allow turtles to escape from shrimp nets. As many as 150,000 turtles are believed to drown each year when they become trapped in shrimp nets.
Last April, the WTO ruled in favor of four Asian countries that had filed a formal complaint challenging the U.S. law. Under pressure from a coalition of environmental groups led by NWF, the U.S. government appealed that decision but failed to persuade the WTO to change its ruling.
Faced with trade sanctions unless it changes the way it implements the law, the United States already has relaxed its regulations to require that only individual shrimpers who want to export their catch to this country use TEDs. NWF strongly opposes these weaker rules, arguing that without national policies on TEDs, turtles that escape one net equipped with a TED will simply be caught in the next net without one.
NWF is asking the federal government not to weaken the law but to implement it more fairly, focusing on negotiating with the complaining countries for better international protection of sea turtles.
Congress Rejects Road Plan for Huge Copper River Delta
Thanks to intense lobbying by NWF and a coalition of six other environmental and Alaska Native organizations, Congress has refused to sanction a 30-mile road across Alaska´s Copper River Delta, the largest wetlands complex on the Pacific Coast of North America.
The lawmakers defeated four bills and riders introduced by Alaska´s congressional delegation that would have allowed a Native corporation to build a road without submitting the plan for environmental review or public comment. The road would have enabled the Native corporation to harvest timber on its lands in the delta, which is part of the Chugach National Forest and also one of the most important waterfowl habitats in the Western Hemisphere.
NWF and other coalition members generated grass-roots opposition to the road plan and convinced several prominent Alaska Native leaders and commercial fishing organizations to join the fight.
"Although this is a sweet victory, it is just the first step in our campaign to permanently protect the Copper River Delta," says Tony Turrini, director of NWF´s Alaska office. NWF is now trying to convince the Native corporation that it would be more profitable to sell a conservation easement, perhaps to a specially created land trust, than to harvest timber. An easement would prohibit destructive activities such as logging while preserving the area for traditional uses such as hunting and fishing. NWF also is asking the U.S. Forest Service to declare the delta a wilderness area.
Annual Meeting Set for March 18-21 in Houston, Texas
NWF´s 63rd annual meeting will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act and the continuing challenges facing threatened species around the world with the theme, "Keep the Wild Alive."
General sessions and workshops will focus on conservation successes, work that still needs to be done and how to educate the public about conservation issues.
Invited speakers include Texas Governor George W. Bush and Dr. Sylvia Earle, former chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Just prior to the meeting, attendees will have an opportunity to join NWF President Mark Van Putten in a hands-on project to help Teague Middle School near Houston expand its schoolyard habitat to better attract both wildlife and residents of the diverse community.
NWF´s Associate Members are eligible to register now for the meeting´s discounted rate.
"Keep the Wild Alive:" Wildlife Week Theme for 1999
Introducing school children to nine of North America´s most endangered creatures and inspiring them to get involved in activities to save imperiled species is the goal of Wildlife Week 1999, to be celebrated April 18-24.
This year´s theme: Nature´s WebTM: Keep the Wild Alive highlights NWF´s campaign to increase awareness of endangered species and mark the 25th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act.
Materials feature conservation success stories about the bald eagle and gray wolf and describe how dedicated individuals have contributed to the recovery of endangered species.
Once again, teachers are invited to send in reports about how they use National Wildlife Week materials in classroom activities. One teacher will receive free registration and accommodations at an NWF Conservation Summit® next summer.
Wildlife Week kits will be distributed free to teachers of grades K-8 by NWF´s state affiliates. Teachers also can order kits by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.