Action Report: June/July 2000

How National Wildlife Federation is making a difference

06-01-2000 // Phyllis McIntosh

SmartMoney Names NWF as Top Environmental Charity

Among large environmental organizations, NWF does the best job of responsibly spending its supporters´ money, according to SmartMoney magazine.

NWF was honored for spending nearly 90 cents of every dollar it receives directly on educating, inspiring and assisting people to conserve and restore wildlife and wild places.

The magazine selected NWF as tops in the environmental category from among a pool of the 100 largest U.S. charities, based on 1998 revenue. Winners were those found to channel the highest percentage of public donations directly into programs, spend the lowest amount of donated funds on fund-raising and hold the fewest public donation dollars in savings.

"We understand that our 4.1 million members and supporters want their gifts to generate real results for people and wildlife, and we do everything possible to make that happen," says Lawrence J. Amon, NWF´s chief financial officer.

Government Approves Citizen Management Plan for Grizzlies

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given its final approval to a plan that would give local people day-to-day authority for managing grizzly bears reintroduced into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area of Idaho and Montana. The plan was written by NWF and Defenders of Wildlife in cooperation with the Resource Organization on Timber Supply, which represents mill workers, and the Intermountain Forest Association, an organization of foresters.

This is the first time since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 that a plan negotiated and written outside the agency has been selected as the preferred method for restoring a species. To ensure that the Citizens Management Committee´s actions are based on sound science, two scientific advisors will provide technical advice at all meetings. Another scientific team appointed jointly by the Secretary of the Interior and the governors of Idaho and Montana will arbitrate any disputes the committee cannot resolve.

NWF is now working to ensure that Congress provides funding to implement the unique plan.

Vermont Affiliate´s Renovations Feature SmartWood Products

A recent remodeling project at the headquarters of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, an NWF affiliate, is a stellar example of "practice what you preach."

The council made a point of choosing wood products certified by NWF through the SmartWood program as coming from environmentally well-managed forests.

Lumber for the 2x4 framing came from Seven Islands, a Maine firm that was one of the first and largest companies to be certified as environmentally responsible. New office floors are made from wood harvested by Vermont Family Forests, an association of small woodland owners who have joined together to become SmartWood certified.

To learn more about the SmartWood Program, contact NWF´s Northeast Field Office, 58 State St., Montpelier, Vermont 05602. Phone: 802-229-0650.

Program to Teach Young Campers Joys of Birding

This summer, as many as 10,000 youngsters at more than 50 camps across the country will learn to appreciate birds and how to create a bird-friendly backyard habitat through a special curriculum developed by NWF, the American Camping Association and Wild Birds Unlimited.

Aimed primarily at middle-school children, the 10-hour program covers basic bird biology and what birds need in order to thrive. Campers will receive a take-home brochure urging families to create a Backyard Wildlife Habitat site and get it certified by NWF.

To find out if a camp in your area is offering the program, contact Alicia Craig-Lich through Wild Birds Unlimited, 317-571-7100, ext. 121, or e-mail craiglicha@wbu.com.

NWF, Affiliate Fight Texas Plan to Dilute Water Quality Rules

When Texas recently proposed to weaken water-quality standards for some of its major rivers, lakes and coastal waters, NWF´s Gulf States Field Office and the Texas Committee on Natural Resources, one of NWF´s affiliates, sprang into action.

Along with other conservation and sportsmen´s groups, they protested the proposal in detailed comments to the state, placed articles in anglers´ and sportsmen´s magazines, circulated fact sheets and press alerts, and distributed thousands of response postcards urging concerned citizens to register their opposition.

The proposed new rules would allow more pollutants into key bodies of water, including a portion of one of the state´s premier bass-fishing lakes, and would scale back monitoring of recreational waters, leaving people more at risk from harmful bacteria and other disease-causing agents.

"With some 40 percent of the state´s monitored water bodies officially listed as polluted, this is no time to relax either our standards or our vigilance about water quality," says Myron Hess, attorney and water-quality specialist in NWF´s Gulf States office.

Besides opposing any weakening of the rules, NWF and the Texas group are urging regulators to improve water-quality standards by making an explicit commitment to protecting aquatic habitat.

The state will submit revised standards to the Environmental Protection Agency for approval this summer. Unless the standards improve significantly by that time, says Hess, NWF and the Texas group likely will urge that the state´s action be overturned.

Vermont Towns Learn to Control Stormwater Pollution

Stormwater runoff laden with dirt, litter, fertilizer, oil and heavy metals is a significant source of pollution throughout New England´s Lake Champlain Basin. Yet, many local officials are ill-equipped to deal with pressures to convert open land to roads, parking lots and other hard surfaces that dramatically increase stormwater runoff.

To give those officials the tools they need to make sound land-use and transportation decisions, NWF´s Northeast Field Office recently conducted stormwater management workshops in six Vermont communities.

The sessions focused on techniques for including water-quality protection in review of land-use applications and provided model language that can be incorporated into town plans and land-use regulations.

Maine Dam Removal Voted 1999´s Best New Development

According to the readers of Popular Science magazine, the 1999 "Best of What´s New" was not an oven that cooks with light or the discovery of an entirely new element, but rather the nation´s first removal of an operating dam to restore historic fisheries to a Maine river.

The decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to remove the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River last year was a victory for a coalition of conservation organizations, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine, one of NWF´s affiliates.

The coalition estimates that at least 10 species of migratory fish will return to the 17-mile stretch of the river formerly blocked by the dam. State biologists report a significant improvement in water quality just months after the dam was breached.

Each year Popular Science recognizes 100 "Best of What´s New" recipients, and readers then vote for the top winner. Previous winners have included the Mars Rover, the world´s first cloned mammal and a 70-miles-per-gallon car.

"What´s neat about the dam winning is that it represents the only technological step backward among all the new gewgaws and that makes for a big step forward for fish and water habitat," says Don Hooper, regional organizer in NWF´s Northeast Natural Resource Center.

Saving Humpback Whales Demands International Effort

Along both coasts of the United States, the mighty humpback whale is now making its annual migration north to summer feeding grounds located off Newfoundland and Labrador in the Atlantic and off Alaska in the Pacific.

Listed as endangered since 1970, the humpback now numbers fewer than 12,000 worldwide.

Not only does the whale cross international waters, but its habitat and food fish also are subject to pollution and overexploitation by other nations. Protected since 1986 by an international ban on whaling, humpbacks are still targets in some countries that ignore the ban.

Other whales are killed or injured by collisions with ships and boats, and many face food shortages because of overfishing and marine pollution. Noise from ships, aircraft, offshore oil rigs and other human activities is thought to interfere with the whales´ ability to feed and breed.

While the nations of the world have made great strides in preventing direct killing of whales, they now face the greater challenge of controlling ocean pollution and development on land and sea that threaten the species´ food and habitat.

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