Action Report: December/January 2011

How National Wildlife Federation Is Making a Difference

11-17-2010 // NWF Staff
Sage-grouse by Mike Lockhart

Your Dollars at Work

NWF members contribute to conservation victories in 2010

Without your support, many of National Wildlife Federation’s most vital conservation initiatives would not get off the ground. Following are just a few of our successes in 2010 (with member contributions):

• Loggerhead Sea Turtle Eggs Relocated—$25,000: In the wake of the gulf oil spill disaster, NWF partnered with the Sea Turtle Conservancy to relocate thousands of loggerhead sea turtle eggs from the Florida panhandle to safer locations along the state’s Atlantic coast. Read about all of NWF’s efforts to protect wildlife in the gulf.

• Wapiti Grazing Allotment Retired—$75,000: Livestock will no longer graze in a section of prime wildlife habitat west of Yellowstone National Park, thanks to an agreement brokered by NWF. The deal involved “retiring” the Wapiti grazing allotment, which represents 10,000 acres in Gallatin National Forest. Wildlife beneficiaries include wolves, grizzlies and bison. To date, more than 600,000 acres have been retired in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho via NWF’s Adopt a Wildlife Acre program.

• Creating Habitat in Puget Sound Region—$80,000: NWF is building a Community Wildlife Habitat™ network in Washington—the largest network of its kind in the country—to create contiguous habitats for native wildlife and an alliance of volunteers to support NWF work to safeguard Puget Sound. Find out how to launch a Community Wildlife Habitat effort in your area.

• Greening America’s Schools—$250,000: More than 330 schools, with 142,000 students and 4,200 teachers, are actively participating in NWF’s Eco-Schools USA program. The Federation is working with educators, administrators and staff to integrate sustainable principles into their curricula and help their schools achieve energy savings (see "Zerofootprint Challenge" below).

• Protecting Wildlife from Energy Development—$5,000: Named one of the top ten western habitats in jeopardy from energy development by a coalition of sportsmen, the North Park area of Colorado is home to sage-grouse (above) and other wildlife and a world-class fishery. To protect these resources, NWF successfully argued for more than 25,000 acres of this critical habitat to be placed off-limits to oil and gas drilling. Learn more about NWF’s efforts to safeguard species on public lands.


Zerofootprint Challenge

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, K-12 schools waste more than 25 percent of their energy each year. To help schools registered with its Eco-Schools USA program become more efficient, NWF has partnered with the Zerofootprint Foundation to provide software that allows the schools to track and reduce their environmental impact.


Campaign to Preserve Mountian Region

By engaging diverse groups and individuals, NWF and Friends of the Blue Ridge aim to create a conservation corridor along the most threatened stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains—from I-66 in Virginia to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. For details about NWF efforts to protect habitat and create wildlife corridors in other parts of the country, see the feature story “Freedom of Movement.”


Major Wetlands Victory in Florida

After four years of opposing planned residential and golf projects in Florida’s ecologically important Cocohatchee Slough, a coalition of environmental groups, including NWF and the Florida Wildlife Federation, has settled two federal lawsuits in exchange for significantly increased habitat protections. The conservation organizations and developer G.L. Homes agreed to more than 200 additional acres of wetland impact reductions, restoration of endangered wood stork habitat and relocation of a road onto old farm fields and out of wetlands. These groups won a related court victory in 2009, stopping the destruction of another 645 acres.

To protect habitat further, the coalition is now working with state and federal agencies to strengthen their permit review and compensation for wetlands losses due to development. The improvements, says NWF counsel Jan Goldman-Carter, “could significantly reduce or eliminate impacts before the projects end up in court, wasting time and money, or worse, getting built and causing irreparable harm.”


Conservation Agreements Protect Colorado Wildlife

Responsible drilling and habitat protection are centerpieces of new plans

Mule deer in Colorado

Agreements mandated by Colorado’s oil and gas rules resulted in the protection of 355,000 acres of habitat on the state’s Western Slope, home to mule deer (left), elk and other wildlife. NWF and the Colorado Wildlife Federation helped lay the groundwork for these agreements, which were announced by Governor Bill Ritter and energy developers in August. The conservation groups were among the parties that drafted the Wildlife Habitat Stewardship Act, passed by the state assembly in 2007.

“This bill facilitated an update in Colorado’s oil and gas regulations,” says NWF regional representative John Gale. “It led to an innovative partnership with the energy industry, conservation and sportsmen’s organizations and the Colorado Division of Wildlife to develop comprehensive mitigation plans that provide economic certainty for developers and habitat stability for wildlife.”

Energy development is part of life in Colorado, adds Gale. “These plans make sure drilling is done the right way and in the right places to protect wildlife.”


Greenforce Initiative Launched

Project will prepare students for work in the growing green energy sector

With jobs in the country’s emerging clean energy sector growing more than twice as fast as jobs overall, NWF and Jobs for the Future have joined forces on a two-year project that will spur green workforce education, innovation and training at community colleges in six states. The Greenforce Initiative™ seeks to strengthen the capacity of schools to develop or expand career pathway programs designed for lower-skilled adults, who may not currently have access to such programs.

“The demand for clean energy is here and now, and community colleges must be prepared to equip people to enter the green workforce,” says Lisa Madry, NWF’s campus field director. “The Greenforce Initiative commitment will help accelerate America’s ability to tackle the climate crisis while creating greater economic opportunities for underserved students.”

With support from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Greenforce Initiative has partnered with academic institutions in Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Because community colleges are often at the forefront of efforts to green facilities and operations, says Madry, the initiative will use campus sustainability efforts for hands-on training and education activities.


NWF Joins BlueGreen Alliance

“Global warming is the single biggest threat to our wildlife and wild places, and this economic downturn continues to threaten communities,” says NWF President Larry Schweiger. To help confront these problems, NWF recently joined the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor unions and conservation groups dedicated to creating good jobs and protecting the environment.


Report: Benefits of Nature Study

Back to School: Back Outside report

According to a recent NWF report, time spent outside during school and at home helps children become high-performance learners and score higher on standardized tests. Unfortunately, as Back to School: Back Outside! points out, U.S. kids on average spend only minutes a day in the outdoors—and that poses a serious new educational challenge for the country.

The report examines the impact of outdoor playtime and nature study on student motivation, effectiveness at learning, classroom behavior and test scores. “It’s ironic that time outside during the school day has been reduced to allow more time for standardized test preparation when it’s that very time outdoors that could create higher test scores,” says NWF Senior Vice President for Education and Training Kevin Coyle. The study lays out a series of steps that schools can take to increase outdoor education and experiences for their students.


Life’s a Pic-a-Nic

New film partnership aims to inspire people to learn about wildlife and get outside

National Wildlife Federation is teaming up with the film Yogi Bear to extend the movie’s lessons and inspire kids and families to learn about wildlife and get outside. The film opens nationwide on December 17, with NWF serving as the production’s official education partner.

A live-action/CG animated adventure, Yogi Bear brings everyone’s favorite pic-a-nic basket-stealing bear to the big screen in eye-popping 3D. The story centers around Jellystone Park, which has been losing so much business that greedy Mayor Brown decides to shut it down and sell the land. That means families will no longer be able to experience the natural beauty of the outdoors—and, even worse, Yogi and his pal Boo Boo will be tossed out of the only home they’ve ever known. Faced with his biggest challenge ever, Yogi must prove that he really is “smarter than the average bear,” as he and Boo Boo join forces with their old nemesis Ranger Smith to find a way to save Jellystone from closing forever.

“We hope the film will motivate people of all ages to get outside in their favorite park and use our online resources to learn about the natural world,” says Carey Stanton, NWF senior director for education.

“National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There™ campaign provides ways for kids and families to make getting outdoors and connecting to nature a fun, healthy and automatic part of everyday life.” adds Stanton.

As part of the effort, NWF educates people of all ages to protect habitat where they live by planting trees, gardening for wildlife and creating Schoolyard Habitats® in their communities through the Eco-Schools USA program.

For more information about Yogi Bear and some ideas for having outdoor fun:
• Download the activity guide.
• Find ways to get your family outdoors at www.beoutthere.org.
• Locate a favorite park in your neighborhood at www.nwf.org/naturefind.
• Visit the official movie website at www.yogibear.com.

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