Action Report: October/November 2007

How National Wildlife Federation is making a difference

10-01-2007 // NWF Staff

Protecting Our National Symbol
NWF activists helped shape new strategy for safeguarding bald eagles

The bald eagle's remarkable recovery provides a powerful reminder of how well the Endangered Species Act is working. In declaring last June that our national symbol can now be removed from the list of threatened species protected by the law, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced a new strategy for managing the nearly 10,000 breeding pairs of the birds currently ranging in the lower 48 states. The agency also acknowledged the role that NWF activists played in shaping that strategy.

The process began in early 2007, when NWF learned that federal authorities might weaken regulations for protecting the eagles once the species is removed from the list. NWF asked its e-Champions, as its member activists are called, to write to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and demand that its eagle rules include an explicit, strong definition of what constitutes "disturbing" the birds. The activists flooded FWS with thousands of emails--so many that Interior officials later singled out the input of NWF members. The result: The new federal regulations provide landowners and others with tough mandates to prevent them from harming the birds.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service listened to public concerns and enacted meaningful measures to safeguard eagles and their habitat for generations to come," says John Kostyack, NWF's director of wildlife conservation campaigns. "This demonstrates the power the public can wield in influencing the outcome of critical conservation decisions."

To learn how you can become an e-Champion, visit the Take Action site.

Let the Rivers Run, Say Texans
A victory for rivers and bays in the Lone Star State is also a victory for NWF and its Texas Living Waters Project partners. The groups helped draft the landmark environmental flows bill that was passed in the final hours of the state's last legislative session, and their activists were instrumental in securing lawmaker support.

"This is a major step forward for the protection and restoration of water resources in Texas," says Susan Kaderka, NWF's regional executive director for the Gulf States. The new law establishes a process for determining how much flow is needed to keep waterways healthy and begins the work of ensuring that such flow is protected.

The implications for wildlife are huge, says Jennifer Ellis, NWF outreach coordinator. The fate of the nation's last wild flock of whooping cranes, for instance, is tied to how much freshwater reaches San Antonio Bay, the birds' winter habitat.

"Our next challenge is to make certain the true vision of this legislation is achieved," says Ellis. "That means Texans from all walks of life getting involved to ensure that the process for determining flows is effectively implemented." To learn more, visit www.texaswatermatters.org.

Habitat Goal
Join members who have been recognized for creating wildlife havens in their yards. Help NWF reach its goal of certifying at least 100,000 habitats by year's end. Visit www.nwf.org/habitat.

Adopt a Bear
Protect imperiled species in America by "adopting" a polar bear. Your contribution will help support NWF's conservation efforts. Go to www.nwf.org/adoption or call 1-800-822-9919.

Get Involved
Enjoy gardening? Working with kids? Are you a computer whiz? NWF offers dozens of regional volunteer opportunities to match your interests, skills and talents. Volunteer today.

Stopping Invasives in the Great Lakes
Groups plan to sue shipping companies to halt harmful introductions

Conservation groups led by NWF recently announced their intent to file a lawsuit against several shipping companies that operate in the Great Lakes, demanding compliance with the Clean Water Act. The suit aims to shut the door on aquatic invasive species, which cause billions of dollars in damage each year.

"We're initiating legal action because invasive species are killing the Great Lakes," says Andy Buchsbaum, NWF's regional executive director for the Great Lakes. "We're heading to court to force oceangoing ships to comply with U.S. law to stop invasive species introductions, because every day we wait the problem gets worse and the solutions more costly. Enough is enough."

The Clean Water Act prohibits vessels from discharging pollutants, including biological materials, into U.S. waters without a permit. The legal action charges that the shipping companies have unlawfully discharged ballast water containing nonnative species into the Great Lakes, compromising the ecosystem and the waterways that link to it since such species have the potential to spread rapidly and increase vastly in number.

We need to "stand up for the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs and way of life," says John Goss, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation, one of six NWF affiliates that are participating in the legal action.

Climate Classroom Launched
Website helps educators tackle tough subjects

Reversing global warming is one of NWF's major initiatives. But climate change and its effects can be difficult to explain--particularly to children. To address this challenge, the Federation recently launched Climate Classroom, a website designed primarily to help educators, parents and other caregivers become better informed so they can discuss global warming with kids in age-appropriate and hopeful ways.

Sections for adults provide talking points, visuals, instructional guidelines and helpful resource links for investigating the topic with young people. An additional section for school-age children offers answers to questions posed by readers of NWF's Ranger Rick® magazine and realistic suggestions for becoming part of the global warming solution. See www.climateclassroom.org.

NWF Magazine Voted Year's Best
The nonprofit Association of Educational Publishers recently named Your Big Backyard® its 2007 children's "Periodical of the Year." The NWF magazine was one of more than 125 entries that competed for the title. To learn more about the honoree, visit Your Big Backyard.

Good News for Wild Salmon
A federal judge sided with NWF and a suite of other conservation groups in June when he ruled that a Bush administration policy requiring the inclusion of hatchery-bred salmon in Endangered Species Act listing decisions was invalid. "The court rightfully determined that counting hatchery fish alongside wild fish can reduce the protections for the wild fish, making them less viable," says James Schroeder, NWF's senior environmental policy specialist. "This decision will clear the way for certain wild stocks of northwest salmon to receive the higher levels of protection they need to recover."

Honored Storytellers
Landing the "Big One." Enjoying a game of tag with man's best friend. These are some of the experiences shared by winners of the Great Lakes Story and Photo Contest. "The entries illustrate how important the Great Lakes are to people," says NWF's Jeff Skelding, national campaign director of the Healing Our Waters®–Great Lakes Coalition, the contest's sponsor. See www.healthylakes.org.

Support Fair Trade and Biodiversity
Choosing which coffee to drink in the morning can make a difference in the lives of farmers around the world. Selecting a Fair Trade Certified™ (FTC) product guarantees that a fair price is paid to growers who distribute their harvests through small cooperatives, allowing the farmers to support their families and invest in quality coffee. Because most FTC javas available in the United States, including National Wildlife Blend and National Wildlife Decaf from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters®, are also certified organic and shade-grown, there are benefits for wildlife as well. In a protective buffer zone surrounding Mexico's El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, farmers grow beans for the NWF coffees beneath a forest canopy, which provides vital habitat to migratory songbirds and other species.

This October, celebrate Fair Trade Month and support NWF by purchasing a National Wildlife coffee product. Visit http://fairtrade.greenmountaincoffee.com or call 1-888-879-4627.

Families Plug Into the Great Outdoors
Tens of thousands participate in NWF's annual backyard campout event

When NWF invited folks from across the country to participate in its third-annual Great American Backyard Campout (GABC), more than 41,000 individuals answered the call. The event, held each year on the fourth Saturday in June, encourages adults and kids alike to forego all things high tech for a night and savor the wonders of nature.

"When I was growing up, kids spent so much more time outdoors," says Tracy Goodman, the events coordinator at Sun-N-Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Florida, which welcomed its first tent campers this past summer. She says she embraced the chance to plan activities in support of GABC at Sun-N-Fun, seeing such as an opportunity to remind parents of the benefits of outside play and importance of being active as a family.

"All of us who remember the enjoyment of being outside and camping need to pass those memorable experiences on," says Eliza Russell, NWF's director of education. GABC participants can share their camping tips, stories and photographs online at www.backyardcampout.org.

Conservationists Cannot Be Dammed
Prairie Rivers Network celebrates 40 years of clean water protection

In July 1967, Bruce and Patricia Hannon were camping in Allerton Park in central Illinois when they learned of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to dam the nearby Sangamon River and flood the popular vacation spot. Outraged, Patricia organized a rally and enlisted some 200 fellow campers to sign a petition opposing the plan. She then passed the conservation torch to her husband, who that same summer went on to help found the organization known today as Prairie Rivers Network (PRN). The NWF affiliate spent the better part of its first eight years battling the threat to Allerton--and won. The project "never saw the light of day," Bruce recalls. Earlier this year, citizens voted the park one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois.

For four decades, PRN has worked in the Prairie State to safeguard special natural places and ensure clean water and healthy communities. Most recently, it initiated a program to install rain gardens at Habitat for Humanity homes and helped convince Illinois lawmakers to require all power plants in the state to reduce mercury pollution by 90 percent. "Instead of having some of the largest emissions in the country, Illinois is now at the forefront of reducing mercury pollution, serving as a leader for other states to follow," says Glynnis Collins, PRN's interim executive director. Visit www.prairierivers.org.

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