Action Report: June/July 2007

How National Wildlife Federation is making a difference

06-01-2007 // NWF Staff

Making Plans to Save Wildlife
NWF and its affiliates back state efforts to protect species and habitats

Chris North, special projects director of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, an NWF affiliate, recently took reporters on a field trip to Dupont State Forest in search of the rare green salamander. One of 56 salamander species native to the Tar Heel State, it is being monitored by biologists from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission who hope to learn more about its distribution and prevent it from ending up on the federal Endangered Species list.

The field trip was one of three that North has led this year--the other two involved bats and flying squirrels--to introduce the press to local wildlife conservation projects designed primarily to help beleaguered species before they are listed. "We hope to avoid the costlier and often more controversial issues that surround listed-species restoration," North says. Such work is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's State Wildlife Grants Program. In order to receive these funds, states have to produce wildlife action plans that identify species and habitats of greatest conservation need and outline steps for protecting them.

North's efforts are conducted under the auspices of Teaming with Wildlife, a coalition of more than 5,000 organizations that works to secure increased public funding for wildlife conservation and implementation of action plans in every state.

"The national Teaming with Wildlife coalition--the largest coalition in conservation history--includes biologists, state wildlife agencies, conservationists, hunters, anglers, bird-watchers, nature-based businesses and many others who support the goal of restoring and conserving our nation's wildlife," says Sarah Gannon Nagle, manager of NWF's State Wildlife Action Project, which is helping to grow the coalition by recruiting new members and promoting success stories. Teaming with Wildlife coalitions also exist in most states and have engaged 23 NWF affiliates in their activities. Coalition members work locally to support their state wildlife action plans, particularly by increasing awareness of the plans among media, the public and elected officials.

Since early 2006, NWF, with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, has been working with five of its affiliate partners to establish Teaming with Wildlife coalitions in Georgia, Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Examples of the groups' outreach include the Georgia Wildlife Federation helping to conduct restoration activities on the Broad River Natural Area and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation taking congressional members on a field trip to migratory bird habitat on the shores of Lake Michigan.

"We're now planning to partner with several other affiliates to expand the program," Nagle says. "I'm pleased to say that during last February's annual meeting of Teaming with Wildlife supporters in Washington, D.C., all five of the states involved in our pilot project won awards for their work." View the State Wildlife Action Plans site.

Great Lakes Contest
The Healthy Lakes, Healthy Lives Campaign, operated out of NWF's Ann Arbor office, will launch a Great Lakes Story Contest on Memorial Day. For entry guidelines, see www.healthylakes.org.

Backyard Campout
Take part in NWF's Great American Backyard Campout® on June 28. To register, go to the Backyard Campout site. The website features packing lists, recipes, field guides and wildlife-themed activities.

Photo Competition
National Wildlife invites photographers from all levels of experience to enter its 2007 photography awards competition. The deadline for submitting images is July 1. Go to the PhotoZone.

Trading Conflict for Conservation
NWF and ranchers make retirement work for wildlife in the West

Thanks to an agreement brokered by NWF, cattle will no longer graze in a section of prime wildlife habitat south of Yellowstone National Park. The deal involves "retiring" the Bacon Creek/Fish Creek grazing allotments, which represent roughly 178,000 acres of land in Bridger-Teton National Forest.

"This is an extremely important wildlife area, both for wintering big game and large carnivores," says NWF Special Projects Manager Hank Fischer, listing moose, elk and grizzlies (right) among the inhabitants.

Since 2002, NWF has been looking for ranchers willing to accept payment to stop grazing livestock in areas where chronic wildlife conflicts occur--money the ranchers can use to secure grazing rights on other lands. Fischer considers the conservation strategy a "win" for all parties involved: "Ranchers win because their livelihoods are protected. Livestock win because predators are far less prevalent. And wildlife wins because they get back their natural habitat."

NWF has already retired 21 grazing allotments, encompassing nearly 300,000 acres in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

The Federation will raise the $450,000 needed to finalize the retirement of the Bacon Creek/Fish Creek allotments from its members, foundations and other conservation partners. "At about $2.50 per acre," says Fischer, "this has to be one of the best conservation bargains that can be found today." To learn more, visit www.nwf-wcr.org.

Support NWF: Answer the Call
New service helps subscribers protect wildlife

NWF Mobile, powered by Sonopia, marks the creation of a communications experience designed specifically for NWF supporters. "The common thread that ties our members together is a strong interest in and deep commitment to protecting America's wildlife," says Jaime Matyas, chief operating officer for the Federation. Subscribers to the new wireless phone service will receive customized content, including NWF action alerts and updates on environmental topics, in addition to the standard features they've come to expect from a mobile plan. They'll also know that a portion of the money they spend on the service helps to support NWF's conservation work. To learn more about NWF Mobile and its offerings, call 1-877-595-0557.

NWF Uncovers "Smoking Gun"
NWF's efforts to stop a sulfide mine from being built in the Yellow Dog Plains area of Michigan's Upper Peninsula received a boost in March when the state's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) withdrew its tentative approval of the project. The action was prompted by NWF's discovery of a 25-page "smoking gun" memo, written by a DEQ consultant, which questioned whether the mine's roof would hold up.

"We knew the draft decision to permit the mine was faulty. Now we know why," says Michelle Halley, an attorney for NWF. "We believe it is time for an independent investigation of the DEQ's process for the Kennecott mining proposal, as well as other major permits that have come before the department."

Acid rock drainage from the mine has the potential to pollute nearby trout streams and groundwater, threatening the health of both people and wildlife (including the endangered Kirtland's warbler). "It's not worth the risk," says Halley.

Best for the Family
Ranger Rick and its companion educator's guide recently won a 2007 Teachers' Choice Award for the Family. Educators who are also parents evaluated hundreds of products on behalf of Learning magazine to choose the best tools for at-home learning. Ranger Rick was the only children's magazine listed among this year's honorees. For information about the NWF publication, visit the Ranger Rick website.

Electing Leaders and Helping Out
At its 71st annual meeting in early spring, NWF welcomed new leaders and encouraged attendees to get dirty--for a cause. More than 300 volunteers from across the country answered the call to action, setting out to help restore the Anacostia River watershed in metropolitan Washington, D.C.

Participants spread out to three locations--Little Paint Branch Park and Magruder Park in Maryland and Anacostia Park in the nation's capital--where they picked up trash and removed invasive plants. The Earth Conservation Corps and Anacostia Watershed Society helped to coordinate the effort.

"Engaging communities in conservation is a priority for NWF, and this effort was a great example of that," says retiree Tom Gonzales, the former president of Colorado's Front Range Community College, who was named chairman of NWF's board of directors at the meeting. Six new members were elected to join him on the board: Jenny Brock, Liz Hamilton, David L. Hargett, Mason Bryant Howard, Kent Salazar and Lise Van Susteren.

Growing the Farm Bill
NWF urges congress to support conservation programs

In just two decades, U.S. landowners have transformed roughly 40 million acres of former cropland into wildlife habitat under Farm Bill conservation programs--more land than is contained in the entire National Wildlife Refuge System in the lower 48 states. "There is nothing else that even begins to match the on-the-ground benefits to wildlife," says NWF Wetlands Policy Specialist Julie Sibbing.

The comprehensive package of federal legislation known as the Farm Bill is up for renewal in Congress this year, and NWF is urging lawmakers to expand and fully fund programs in the bill that protect habitat.

Earlier in 2007, NWF, the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the Izaak Walton League of America released Hidden Treasures: The Conservation Security Program and Wildlife, a report that details how the 2002 Farm Bill program is currently supporting species such as the lesser prairie chicken and how it can be improved. NWF also contributed content to Cultivating Restoration: How Farm Bill Conservation Programs Help Heal Our Great Lakes, a publication of the Healing Our Waters®–Great Lakes Coalition (see www.healthylakes.org).

To help raise public awareness about the law's provisions, NWF and its affiliates in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Georgia have been hosting regional Farm Bill Summits. "We're bringing together people with an interest in understanding the impact of the bill to show them how they can take action to ensure its programs are strengthened," says Duane Hovorka, NWF's Farm Bill outreach coordinator.

Enacting NWF's Biofuels Innovation Program in the next Farm Bill would help wildlife and people, says Sibbing, by providing support to farmers who grow native plants for fuel use. View the News webpage.

Pushing Ecotourism in Texas
Groups unite to promote the Pineywoods Experience

Sandwiched between two of the country's fastest-growing population centers, Dallas and Houston, the Pineywoods region of East Texas is vulnerable to fragmentation and development. At the same time, its waterways and forests are remarkably accessible to millions of potential visitors. To spotlight both issues, NWF and its Lone Star State affiliate, the Texas Conservation Alliance (TCA), recently partnered with the Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce to host a symposium where experts discussed the value of nature tourism and the benefits of protecting natural areas. The event helped grow support for the Pineywoods Experience, an initiative backed by local, state and national organizations that aims to build a more profitable and sustainable economy for East Texas, preserve the land and its ecology, and protect the culture and heritage of the region. To learn more, visit the TCA website at www.tconr.org.

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.

Giving a Voice to Fish and Wildlife
Outdoorsman receives recognition for strengthening conservation partnerships

"I don't ever remember a time when I wasn't wet," jokes Richard Mode, the 2007 winner of NWF's Charlie Shaw Conservation Partnership Award, describing his lifelong love of fishing. Indeed, it was fishing--specifically fly-fishing for trout--that first turned Mode into a conservation activist more than 30 years ago. Upset by a timber company that was dumping sediment into a favorite North Carolina stream, "I said to my fishing buddies: 'We ought to do something about that,'" Mode recalls. He has been fighting conservation battles ever since then, first through Trout Unlimited and later on the board of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, where he currently serves as affiliate representative to NWF.

Established in 1991, the Charlie Shaw award honors the memory of its namesake, NWF's southeastern regional executive until his death in 1990. It recognizes individuals whose work embodies Shaw's dedication to partnerships between NWF and its affiliates. Mode was chosen for his long and tireless efforts to strengthen such partnerships, including an ongoing campaign to bolster the working relationship between NWF and its southern affiliates. Says NWF Regional Representative Daniel Wrinn, who nominated Mode for the award, "His legacy will not be what he has accomplished, but what he has enabled all of us to accomplish together."

Mode's conservation ethic is summed up by what he calls the multiplicative principle. "The more anglers, hunters and wildlife enthusiasts you can bring to the resource management table," he says, "the more powerful you are and the bigger a voice you give to fish and wildlife."

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation Named "Affiliate of the Year"
"The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation works hard for all of its members," the group reports on its website. NWF recently validated that claim when it honored its Wisconsin affiliate (WWF) with a 2006 National Conservation Achievement Award. "WWF's accomplishments are on target with its dual mission to advocate for sound conservation policy and to engage in conservation education," says Marc Smith, an NWF regional representative. He lists protecting and restoring wildlife habitat and helping to save one of the state's most important environmental education facilities from closing among the group's achievements. See www.wiwf.org.

Honored for Volunteer Service
Empowering people to make a difference has always been central to NWF's mission. And central to the success of this outreach is a legion of dedicated Federation volunteers who advance conservation through service. To recognize individuals who go "above and beyond" to help others help wildlife, NWF established a Volunteer of the Year awards program. The 2006 honorees are:

  • Elaine Tholen of Virginia, who brought the Habitat Stewards™ program, which trains people to create wildlife habitat in their communities, to a new national partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;

  • Ed Zygmunt of Pennsylvania, who serves as a media spokesperson for NWF and its affiliate the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs; and

  • Diana Guidry of Florida, who led the effort to get Broward County certified as a Community Wildlife Habitat.

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