Action Report: April/May 2007

How National Wildlife Federation is making a difference

04-01-2007 // NWF Staff

NWF Report: Gardener's Guide to Global Warming
Resource offers solutions for combating the effects of climate change

For millions of Americans, gardening provides a window to the natural world. Unfortunately, according to a new NWF report, the view through that window is becoming increasingly clouded by global warming.

Unless we take significant action to reduce warming, we will face more frequent and severe weather extremes such as heat waves, expansion of harmful invasive species and diseases, and the extinction of thousands of species, reports The Gardener's Guide to Global Warming Solutions.

"Although the predictions are dire, they are not inevitable," says Patty Glick, NWF's senior global warming specialist and author of the guide. "As gardeners, we are both guardians and stewards of our environment, and it's important we realize there are many ways that we can work with nature to solve the problem." Among the action steps outlined in the report:

  • Improve energy efficiency in the backyard by replacing outdoor light bulbs with compact fluorescents, installing automatic light timers and purchasing solar-powered products.

  • Avoid using gasoline-powered tools such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers, which can produce harmful emissions. Instead, use electric-powered or, whenever possible, human-powered tools such as push mowers. "If this seems daunting," says Glick, "consider replacing some of your lawn with low-maintenance native ground covers or shrubs."

  • Reduce the threat of invasive species expansion by removing harmful nonnative plants such as Japanese honeysuckle from your yard and choosing alternatives native to your region.

  • Incorporate a diversity of native plants into your landscape to help maintain the important connections between pollinators and their hosts and ensure food sources for wildlife.

  • Compost kitchen and garden waste, which can help reduce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting also provides excellent garden nutrients, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers that pollute water and require considerable energy to produce.

  • Plant trees to help reduce air conditioning and heating use. Trees also absorb and store carbon dioxide, the gas primarily responsible for global warming.

For more information about these solutions, and how you can take action in your community, read the full Gardner's Guide report.

Get Growing
American Beauties™ native plants are now available in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. A portion of the proceeds from each plant sold will help fund NWF's conservation work. Visit www.abnativeplants.com.

Enter Contest
National Wildlife invites photographers from all levels of experience to enter its 2007 photography awards competition. For rules and entry guidelines, visit PhotoZone.

Happy Bird Day
The theme for International Migratory Bird Day, May 12, is climate change. Learn how global warming affects birds and what you can do to help.

Restoring Habitat in Louisiana
Coastal refuges set to benefit from volunteer effort

Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made landfall in 2005, people from across the country have traveled to storm-ravaged portions of Louisiana to offer their time and energy to the recovery effort. During the coming year, NWF and its affiliate the Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF) will be recruiting some 2,500 volunteers to help restore damaged wildlife refuges in the state.

"All the coastal wildlife areas got whacked pretty bad," says Randy Lanctot, LWF's executive director. The federations' habitat-restoration program, made possible by a $289,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will give sportsmen, birders and other nature enthusiasts the opportunity to "make a real difference," he adds.

Volunteers will replant native trees, shrubs and grasses, clear natural and man-made debris, remove invasive species such as Chinese tallow, install nest boxes for migratory birds, and otherwise help lands regain their value to wildlife. Volunteer today!

Special Places Win Protection
NWF affiliates help secure approval of federal legislation

In early December, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Valle Vidal Preservation Act, permanently protecting the New Mexico wildlife habitat--the prime wintering and spring calving grounds for the state's largest elk herd--from oil and gas development. Just days later, Congress approved a ban on future drilling along Montana's untamed Rocky Mountain Front. President Bush signed both pieces of legislation into law soon afterwards.

"These are important public lands victories that signal a shift in the political arena," says Oscar Simpson, past president and current policy chair of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, which helped organize a diverse coalition of sportsmen, ranchers and other parties to oppose development of the Valle Vidal.

"Collaborating with what would have been unlikely partners in the past--setting differences aside with a vision for conservation--works," says Craig Sharpe, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. The NWF affiliate similarly allied itself with Montanans of diverse interests in calling for actions that would maintain the Rocky Mountain Front's wildlife values and world-class recreational opportunities.

Planning with Panthers in Mind
Motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of death in Florida panthers. To help address this threat, biologists from the University of Central Florida and the University of Florida recently proposed that new wildlife crossings be constructed along three key highways in eastern Collier County, site of nearly half of the Sunshine State's 58 roadkills since 2000.

The scientists' recommendations, which were sought by area road planners, were based on a wildlife movement study funded in part by NWF and its affiliate the Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF), which have long been involved in efforts to protect the nation's most endangered cat (see "Cat on a Collision Course").

"Our hope is that other regions will do similar planning--consider transportation and conservation together," says Nancy Payton, FWF's Southwest Florida field representative.

"It's good work," agrees Laura Hartt, NWF environmental policy specialist. But crossings are only one piece of the survival puzzle for panthers and other wildlife, she says. "We still need to manage growth and preserve habitat vital to the species."

Travel with NWF Expeditions
NWF has selected the world's best wildlife-viewing tours, destinations and values. For example, this summer join us in Wild Siberia, August 26–September 9. Explore nature reserves and a Siberian tiger rehabilitation center; visit Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world; and spend two nights on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Find out how to Travel with NWF.

Teens Honored for Climate Work
NWF's Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) "Climate Stewards Project"--in which AYEA members gathered 5,000 teen signatures on a petition asking for action on global warming and went to Washington, D.C., to present it to Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and other congressional targets--has been selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a 2006 President's Environmental Youth Awards winner. See www.ayea.org.

National Wildlife Week: A Chance to Serve and Observe
Annual celebration focuses on taking action and exploring nature

Inspiring kids, teens and families to observe and protect wildlife in their own communities is what NWF's National Wildlife Week celebration--April 21–29--is all about this year. Local, regional and national partners, including NWF affiliates and Youth Service America, will offer nature-oriented service opportunities throughout the week. And tips to help individuals, schools and community groups develop their own projects are available on the Internet, compiled in a downloadable Conservation Action Guide.

"Recycling has become a widespread, tangible answer for engaging youth in service," says Halle Enyedy, NWF's youth program manager and author of the guide. "While this is a positive step," she adds, "the call to 'Recycle' has been shortened from the original reminder to 'Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.' NWF wants to encourage action that embraces all three Rs by offering suggestions that help young people address topics like global warming and habitat restoration."

Field guides and a "National Wildlife Watch" list are also available online. These resources are designed to help participants identify plants and animals in their neighborhoods, as well as report their findings on the NWF website. "We want families to get outside and explore," says Enyedy. Go to the Wildlife Watch.

Celebrating the Arrival of Spring
Animal Planet and NWF partner to usher in the season

Animal Planet and NWF have joined forces to create an interactive, multimedia experience that will help nature lovers observe and enjoy the wonders of spring. Its centerpiece is a new television show, Spring Watch USA, which will premiere April 21 at 8 p.m. E/P on Animal Planet. Hosted by Jeff Corwin and Vanessa Garnick, who are joined by correspondents Philippe Cousteau and NWF Naturalist David Mizejewski, the program will provide viewers with intimate looks at the lives of a variety of wildlife, and then follow the stories of those animals during the series' episodes.

A website developed by NWF with the aid of a National Science Foundation grant will further engage viewers by helping them record and track nature observations. Wildlife watching is a featured activity of NWF's National Wildlife Week celebration, which Animal Planet will promote as part of its R.O.A.R. (Reach Out, Act and Respond) campaign to "make the world a better place for animals." For information about the initiative, see www.animalplanet.com/roar.

FACES OF NWF
In the seven decades since it was founded, the National Wildlife Federation could not have achieved so much conservation success without the help of thousands of dedicated volunteers, members, state affiliate leaders and supporters from all across the country--people like those discussed below. To learn about how you can get involved, and to find links to state affiliates, visit NWF's home page.

Making a Day for Endangered Species
Passage of a resolution designating May 11 as Endangered Species Day "is a triumph for all Americans who care about protecting wildlife," said John Kostyack, director of NWF's wildlife conservation campaigns, upon learning last spring of the U.S. Senate's unanimous support of the measure.

The idea to create the day came from NWF member and California resident David Robinson, who pitched the proposal to his senator, Dianne Feinstein, in early 2005.

"One of the first lessons I learned growing up is that everything in the world is connected, and that we have a responsibility to take care of our wildlife and wild places," says Robinson. "My hope is that by setting aside a day for children to learn about endangered species, we will inspire young people to carry on the torch of conservation."

Last year, participating schools, government agencies and nonprofits hosted events that highlighted the threats that imperiled species face and what can be done to help. They also celebrated the recovery of species once thought doomed to extinction.

A Novel Approach to Conservation
Best-selling author and his wife help give Mother Nature a voice

For many people, subjects like global warming and air pollution can be overwhelming and hard to grasp. But Terry Brooks, the best-selling author of more than two dozen fantasy novels, including the popularShannara series, believes that a conservation message is easier to digest when it is incorporated into action-packed, gripping fiction--as it is in many of his own books.

"The good thing about the fantasy genre is that, since it doesn't take place in the real world, the reader has no preconceived notions of the way things are," says Brooks, who has woven the theme of environmental degradation into his books for nearly 30 years. "All the great fantasy writers, starting with [Lord of the Rings author J.R.R.] Tolkien, have tried to make readers examine their own world through an imaginary world."

The Seattle author and his wife, Judine, are longtime members of NWF and part of the Federation's J.N. "Ding" Darling Circle, a group of supporters who each donate a generous annual gift to help the organization confront threats to wildlife.

Through their shared commitment to the conservation cause--and through Terry's writing--the Brookses make it clear that they "appreciate the beauty and worth of our natural environment," says Christopher Harvey, NWF's regional director of development for the Northwest and Southwest.

That commitment started early for both of them--for Judine while exploring her native Pacific Northwest and for Terry during his childhood in the small riverside town of Sterling, Illinois. It continued to grow once the couple met in Seattle, where Terry was visiting on a book tour.

The pair's early dates often involved the outdoors: bird-watching trips, rafting tours and hikes around Washington's Mount Rainier. These days, on their drives through the verdant Northwest, the couple sees wide swaths of land cleared by logging. "It makes us crazy," says Judine. "All of Terry's books treat trees as sentient beings, so when we see those trees cut down, it's like we're seeing bodies stacked up."

That sensitivity to the fragile world around them is what drives Terry to write about what he calls "the conflict between preserving and destroying wildlife and the environment." Fortunately for NWF and the Earth, the Brookses have thrown their support firmly behind preservation. Get more information about the J.N. "Ding" Darling Circle and its membership benefits, call 1-800-822-9919.

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