Action Report: October/November 2009

How National Wildlife Federation is making a difference

10-01-2009 // NWF Staff

SAVING THE NATION’S GREAT WATERS
Groups seek to make aquatic habitat protection a national priority

NWF hosted the Great Waters Restoration Summit in New Orleans, Louisiana, in June, bringing together more than 100 conservation leaders from across the nation to help launch a national coalition for the recovery of aquatic ecosystems such as the Great Lakes, the Upper Mississippi River, Florida’s Everglades, coastal Louisiana, Washington’s Puget Sound and the Chesapeake Bay.

“NWF has been working for several years to create a national restoration coalition,” says Jennifer Heller, NWF’s national restoration campaign program coordinator. “In New Orleans, we were able to win significant commitments from attendees, including scientists, federal and state agency officials, business interests and nonprofits, to move forward.”

With an eye toward drafting an agenda, the meeting established committees to discuss such topics as elevating restoration of the country’s great waters to a national priority, securing dedicated funding for restoration of aquatic ecosystems nationwide and advocating for ecosystem restoration as a tool to buffer against climate change impacts.

“This coalition will be a critical tool for continuing to show Congress and the administration that the American people care deeply about our great waters,” says Heller. “By advocating with a collective voice, we put ourselves one step closer to restoring our treasured waters for future generations.”

CEO’s NEW BOOK DETAILS GLOBAL WARMING THREAT
“Like it or not, global warming is the defining issue of the 21st century,” writes Larry J. Schweiger in Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth. In his new book, NWF’s president breaks down the complicated science behind this looming catastrophe and takes us on an engaging journey from Lake Erie to the icebergs of Greenland, and from the halls of Congress to America’s classrooms and farmlands. Along the way, he describes the causes of climate change and its effects on both wildlife and human life.

Writing not only as a conservation leader but also as a parent and grandparent, Schweiger describes how a clean-energy economy can provide the solutions we need to avert the worst consequences of global warming and offers a practical plan of action each of us can take to help reduce the problem. “Most Americans,” he observes, “have little inkling of the enormous risks we are taking” by ignoring the scientific evidence.

“For more than four decades, Larry Schweiger has seen the transformation—for better and for worse—of America’s wildlife and wild places,” says actor and environmental advocate Robert Redford. “He brings an informed perspective to the issue at hand. His view of our ‘last chance’ is also our best chance toward a future we will be proud to leave future generations.”

All proceeds from the book, published by Fulcrum, go to NWF conservation work. For more, visit NWF shop.

WHAT’S IN YOUR PAPER?
The steering committee of the Environmental Paper Network, which includes NWF and its affiliate Natural Resources Council of Maine, recently launched the What’s in Your Paper? website. The resource is designed to raise public awareness of responsible paper options, as well as assist companies and other institutions in adopting responsible paper purchasing policies. See www.whatsinyourpaper.com.

GROUPS UNITE FOR POWDER RIVER BASIN
NWF’s Tribal Lands Conservation Program hosted a summit in Billings, Montana, earlier this year to unite regional landowners and other interested parties in a coalition to protect the Powder River Basin and its wildlife from growing industrialization.

The Powder River Basin—14 million acres stretching from northeastern Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains to southeastern Montana’s Yellowstone River—is the source of more than 40 percent of the nation’s coal. Development there affects wildlife from greater sage grouse to dozens of fish species.

More than 150 participants attended the summit, including ranchers, conservationists, elected officials and representatives from seven Native American tribes. Stakeholders worked on a strategy for drawing national attention to the region and on an action plan to promote responsible energy development. “The coalition is already working on future activities,” says Steve Torbit, NWF regional executive director. “Because it includes many different cultural and economic groups, it holds great promise for the future.” For more information, visit www.powderriveraction.org.

FEMA PUTS OREGON SALMON AT RISK
Lawsuit contends that federal insurance program violates U.S. law

NWF, its affiliate Association of Northwest Steelheaders and other groups sued the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in June for failing to consider how its National Flood Insurance Program affects Oregon’s federally protected salmon and steelhead. NWF and its allies recently won similar cases in Florida and Washington.

By issuing federally subsidized insurance for buildings in flood-hazard areas, FEMA encourages development in floodplain habitat that is vital to critically endangered salmon species. With climate change leading to more intense storms, floodplain development also puts people and communities at increasing risk of floods. “Changing FEMA’s policies is a win-win,” says Dan Siemann, NWF’s senior environmental policy specialist. “Preventing development in floodplains protects habitat, keeps people out of harm’s way, and saves taxpayers money.”

The Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or NOAA Fisheries to be sure that any planned actions do not jeopardize protected species. The suit charges that FEMA has failed to comply with the law in granting flood insurance in Oregon.

CELEBRATING CONSERVATION HEROES
Senator John Warner and others will be honored at fall event

Since 1965, NWF has been celebrating individuals and organizations that have worked to preserve the health of our wildlife and wild spaces. On November 12, at our annual Conservation Achievement Awards dinner in Washington, D.C., we will honor a new group of eco-heroes, including former five-term Republican member of the U.S. Senate, John Warner, who will be recognized as NWF’s Conservationist of the Year.

A longtime supporter of environmental issues, Senator Warner has been one of the nation’s most effective advocates for solving the climate crisis. In the Senate, he coauthored the first comprehensive global warming legislation to be taken up for debate—a bipartisan bill that provided a framework for bills now before Congress. Since leaving elected office, Senator Warner has continued to champion action on climate change. He recently teamed up with the Pew Environment Group to bring together experts on science and military policy to evaluate strategies for preventing global warming and protecting national security interests.

EDUCATION PROGRAM PRODUCES CHAMPION
Teenager John Walls was recently crowned the North American Intermediate Goose Calling Champion at the continent’s biggest competition. He honed his award-winning skills by participating in Young Waterfowlers, a Delaware Nature Society program that teaches students about conservation. For more about the program, visit the NWF affiliate’s website: www.delawarenaturesociety.org.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
NWF campaign launch coincides with the release this fall of a new movie

Innovative film director Spike Jonze collaborates with celebrated author Maurice Sendak to bring one of the most beloved books of all time to the big screen this fall in Where the Wild Things Are, a story about childhood and the places we go to understand the world we live in. The National Wildlife Federation is teaming up with Warner Bros. to extend the film’s lessons to families all across the country as part of its efforts to launch the Be Out There™ campaign.

The NWF initiative is designed to inspire families to “open the door and get outside,” says Rebecca Garland, the campaign’s executive director. “Research has shown that if kids have positive outdoor experiences at a young age, they will become lovers of wildlife and nature and turn into stewards of the environment as they grow older. The message of Where the Wild Things Are works perfectly with this effort.”

The film adaptation of Sendak’s classic children’s book tells the story of a young boy named Max who feels misunderstood at home and escapes to a land “where the wild things are.” He winds up on an island where he meets mysterious and strange creatures whose emotions are as wild and unpredictable as their actions. When those creatures crown Max as their king, he promises to create a place where everyone will be happy. He soon discovers, however, that ruling his kingdom is not so easy and his relationships there prove to be more complicated than he originally thought. The movie, which features an all-star cast, opens in theaters nationwide on October 16.

“We chose to team up with the National Wildlife Federation based on their valuable knowledge and insight on connecting children and families to nature. NWF’s new campaign, Be Out There, reflects the spirit of the film Where the Wild Things Are by reminding us that the wild thing in all of us—especially children—needs to feel the wind on our faces and the sunshine in our hair,” says Nicole Sedita, Vice President, Warner Bros. Promotions.

NWF developed its campaign to counter a disturbing trend among American youngsters today, which represent the first generation in this country to grow up isolated from nature. Outdoor time for kids has decreased, on average, by more than 50 percent from previous generations, while their time spent inside plugged into electronic media has grown to more than six hours per day.

To help parents get their kids outdoors, NWF provides a range of activities and useful tools on its site Be Out There. You can download Where the Wild Things Are activity guides, which are packed with practical ideas. The website also describes how to become part of National Wild Rumpus Day and how to join the movement to connect kids with nature at home, in school and in the community.

“The partnership between NWF and the film Where the Wild Things Are combines America’s leading organization devoted to helping children stay in touch with nature and the iconic story of a small boy escaping into the wild,” says NWF Vice President for Education and Training Kevin Coyle. “Keeping children rooted in nature is about many things: the science of good health, love of families and, importantly, the heartfelt poetry of the outdoor experience. We say: ‘Let the wildlife rumpus start!’”

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