What If There Be No Goose Music?

“Through trying moments in history, Americans have always demonstrated that we work best when we work together.”

05-01-2011 // Larry J. Schweiger, President & Chief Executive Officer
Larry Schweiger

ALDO LEOPOLD shared his concern for the future of his children in his renowned essay “Goose Music,” which first appeared in his classic book A Sand County Almanac: “I hope to leave them good health, an education, and possibly even a competence. But what are they going to do with these things if there be no more deer in the hills, and no more quail in the coverts? No more snipe whistling in the meadow, no more piping of widgeons and chattering of teal as darkness covers the marsh; no more whistling of swift wings when the morning star pales in the east? And when the dawn-wind stirs through the ancient cottonwoods, and the gray light steals down from the hills over the old river sliding softly past its wide brown sandbars—what if there be no more goose music?”

Reflecting on Leopold’s question I have asked myself: What if there had been no National Wildlife Federation? Looking back over NWF’s 75-year history, I wonder if the United States would have the national Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act or Safe Drinking Water Act, as well as the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the many other laws that protect our environment and our wildlife. Would we have stopped the worst acid rains in the 1990s? Who would have provided a clarion voice for wildlife when nature was in trouble during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s, if not for “Ding” Darling, Mrs. H.G. Bogert and the other founding NWF board members?

Working with our members, state affiliate organizations and partner environmental groups, NWF has devoted decades to educating Americans about threats to wildlife and their habitats. We have encouraged members to call on lawmakers, urging them to create a solid legal framework for caring for all of nature. We also have served as watchdogs, ensuring the fair enforcement of the existing laws that protect wildlife and the environment.

Believing that our nation works best when its citizens unite to solve problems, the Federation’s creators founded NWF as a “big tent” conservation group. Today we invite people from all backgrounds to participate in working for NWF goals. We welcome hunters, anglers, bird-watchers, gardeners, hikers and canoeists to our cause. We embrace political diversity, as reflected in our membership, which is about one-third Republican, one-third Democrat and one-third Independent—all cooperating to assure the nature of our children’s tomorrow. NWF state affiliates work across the nation on issues that give the Federation one of the most geographically varied conservation agendas of any group of its kind.

Age has never been a barrier, either. We offer Wild Animal Baby® for infants. Other youngsters can receive Your Big Backyard®, and Ranger Rick® has influenced millions of U.S. children for nearly 50 years. We celebrate National Wildlife Week each spring with millions of school students across the country, as we have since our early days. We are active on scores of college campuses, assisting students to develop their leadership potential.

Many challenges lie ahead for wildlife and for the National Wildlife Federation. You are needed now more than ever to help us defend wildlife and to make sure our children’s world is not plundered by greed. Only an enlightened U.S. voting public will ensure protection of our air and water.

Through trying moments in history, Americans have always demonstrated that we work best when we work together. Sadly, our opponents often seek to divide us. Fossil-fuel interests, for example, fund and foster ideological division, knowing that our political system will do nothing to address global warming and our failed energy policies when the citizenry is split.

Nature faces growing threats from dirty fossil-fuel interests masquerading as Americans for Prosperity and other reasonable-sounding front-groups. Through their vast network of influence in Washington and in state capitols, oil, gas and coal lobbyists are striving to unravel the environmental safety net that stands in the way of excess profits. These and other related corporate forces are aligning to gut the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to enforce key provisions of the Clean Air Act, to eviscerate the wetlands protection provisions of the Clean Water Act, and to block EPA from regulating mountaintop removal and illegal valley fills for coal.

Your support is vital. Help NWF continue to spread the word so we may wake up the nation to the dangers ahead. By working together, we can ensure that goose music and the rich orchestra of nature will continue to be available to our children.


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