Action Report

How National Wildlife Federation Is Making a Difference

08-01-2009 // NWF Staff


Groups unite to press for a stronger federal role in watershed restoration

More than 60 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of members and activists have joined together to urge Congress and the Obama administration to take greater actions to restore the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The newly formed Chesapeake Bay Coalition includes groups from Washington, D.C., and all six states with waterways that drain into the bay.

“By coordinating our experiences, our expertise and our members, we will be able to speak with a clear, strong voice to make the tough choices that will give us clean water,” says Tony Caligiuri, regional executive director at NWF, which led the creation of the coalition. The groups’ first matter of business: launching a “Choose Clean Water” campaign.

The action comes at an opportune time, says NWF’s Hilary Harp Falk, coalition director. This past spring President Obama issued an executive order that makes restoration of the Chesapeake a priority. “With the new executive order,” adds Falk, “we have a unique opportunity to shape the federal role in assuring that local communities will have the legal authority and resources to clean up streams and rivers, protect fishable and swimmable waters and ensure that all of our region’s citizens can enjoy their right to clean water.”

NWF affiliates Virginia Conservation Network and Delaware Nature Society are among the coalition partners joining NWF in the campaign. To learn more, visit

Creating a clean energy economy, protecting our nation’s natural resources and connecting people with the outdoors were the key issues discussed by representatives of NWF and its state and territorial affiliate organizations at the Federation’s 73rd annual meeting earlier this year. These concerns were also reflected in actions taken at the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, gathering:

  • More than 200 attendees engaged in hands-on habitat restoration work. Volunteers partnered with TreeVitalize Pittsburgh and local residents to plant nearly 1,000 trees at Allegheny County’s Hartwood Park and North Park. The plantings were funded by NWF and the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation.
  • The carbon emissions generated by participants’ involvement in the meeting were offset by sponsor NativeEnergy, a company that helps develop renewable energy projects. A business communications company focused on eco-friendly solutions, iCore Networks, Inc., also sponsored the meeting.
  • Craig Thompson was named chair of NWF’s board of directors. A professor at Western Wyoming Community College, Thompson “has devoted his career to studying and teaching others about engineering and water quality issues,” says Jaime Matyas, NWF’s chief operating officer. Nicole Wood, a business owner from Bonne Terre, Missouri, was the lone new member elected to the 31-person board.

In response to a legal brief from NWF and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the New York State Supreme Court dismissed a challenge brought by shipping interests against the state’s tough new ballast water regulations. The groups hailed the decision as a victory for all Great Lakes states that have taken a stand to limit dumping of water containing invasive species from oceangoing vessels.

NWF, in cooperation with six other conservation groups, released last April a report, Courting Disaster: How the Supreme Court Has Broken the Clean Water Act and Why Congress Must Fix It, detailing threats to America’s waters and highlighting the urgent need for Congress to act immediately to restore full Clean Water Act protections.

Recent Supreme Court decisions and subsequent policy changes by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have shattered the framework of the Clean Water Act. For instance, up to 60 percent of the nation’s stream miles have lost or are at risk of losing vital protections, and at least 20 million acres of wetlands have effectively lost federal water pollution safeguards.

Courting Disaster highlights more than 30 cases demonstrating that without immediate action, a generation of progress in cleaning up U.S. waters may be lost. “These examples make clear the urgent need for Congress to pass the Clean Water Restoration Act,” says Jim Murphy, NWF wetlands and water resources counsel. Read the full report at

New program recognizes companies for their eco-friendly practices

If you’re thinking about taking a trip to Alaska, check out Adventure Green Alaska (AGA), a certification program for Alaskan tourism businesses that meet specified standards of economic, environmental and social sustainability. NWF helped create this innovative new program, which is administered by an independent nonprofit corporation.

Businesses certified by AGA are progressive companies that believe Alaska’s exciting outdoor experiences can be conducted sustainably. “As a business owner, I’m constantly looking for ways to save or make money,” says Dan Oberlatz, owner of AGA-certified Alaska Alpine Adventures. “The AGA program highlights ways I could be more efficient and ‘green.’”

AGA is the first such program in the state and only the second in the nation. “It rewards tourism companies for adopting practices that protect wildlife, address the threat of global warming and respect Alaska culture and quality of life,” says Tony Turrini, senior counsel in NWF’s Anchorage office and AGA board president. See

Colorado River collaborators receive U.S. Department of Interior award

NWF and the other groups whose innovative work yielded strategies to use Colorado River water more efficiently received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s prestigious Partners in Conservation award last May. The new strategies were adopted in December 2007 by then Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, marking the first time that the federal government, the Colorado River Basin states, national conservation groups and other interested parties joined forces to chart a course for the river and the people and wildlife dependent on it.

The Colorado River irrigates more than 3 million acres and provides water for more than 30 million people in the United States and Mexico. Access to its limited water has been at the heart of increasing conflict among users as a nine-year drought—the worst in more than a century—has plagued the area.

“Our collaboration provides opportunities to extend limited water supplies, adapt to global warming and help restore Colorado River habitat,” says Garrit Voggesser, manager of NWF’s tribal lands program. “These opportunities could lead to real, measurable benefits for tribal restoration projects on the Lower Colorado River.”

NWF has partnered with Howard Ruby Photography to add new interactive features to its Climate Classroom website. Kids, parents and educators now have access to hundreds of free wildlife photographs taken by Ruby, NWF’s 2007 Conservation Photographer of the Year. Once registered, visitors can play games, check their “climate smarts,” create e-cards and more. See

Unique partnership introduces the global Eco-Schools program to U.S. classrooms

The National Wildlife Federation is teaming up with Warner Bros. and FTL Solar to introduce the international Eco-Schools program to Americans with a sweepstakes called “Eco-Schools USA: Rock Your Green Wish with the Movie Shorts.” As part of the effort, students in grades 1 through 12 began posting “green wishes” for their school online on June 29. The winning school will receive a portable solar tent to be used as an outdoor classroom from FTL Solar.

In theaters nationwide on August 21, Shorts is an engaging fantasy-adventure film directed by Robert Rodriguez about a mysterious rainbow-colored rock that grants wishes to anyone who holds it. Before long, wishes-gone-wrong have left the neighborhood swarming with tiny spaceships, crocodile armies and outrageous magical mayhem, and a group of loosely connected kids must join forces to save their town from itself. The film is rated PG.

“Warner Bros. is pleased to partner with NWF to make people aware of the Eco-Schools USA program and help kids across the country envision a greener future for everyone,” says Nicole Sedita, Vice President, Warner Bros. Promotions.

Eco-Schools is an acclaimed global program, operated under the auspices of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), that provides a framework to help educators integrate sustainable principles into their schools and classrooms. It combines effective “green” management techniques for school grounds, facilities and curriculum, executed by action teams made up of students, administrators, educators and community volunteers at each participating school. The program currently is being implemented in 43 countries, involving 6 million students, 400,000 teachers, 27,000 schools and 4,000 local authorities.

NWF recently was granted official Eco-School host status for K-12 facilities in the United States. Beginning this September, it will start registering schools across the country as a part of the Eco-Schools USA program.

“NWF recognizes the central role of U.S. public and private schools in preparing students for the emerging green economy,” says NWF Vice President for Education and Training Kevin Coyle. “Eco-Schools can help by fostering the next generation of environmental stewards.” NWF expects to recruit more than 5,000 U.S. schools to the program in the next five years.

FTL Solar is the world’s first developer and manufacturer of lightweight, flexible, tensile fabrics and structures embedded with thin-film solar cells. The Texas-based company’s innovative products can be scaled to shelter and power a range of mission-critical applications, including communications centers, medical units, lighting, construction equipment and computers. In remote regions, these power-generating shelters eliminate the need to transport and burn fossil fuels.

For details about the sweepstakes and the partnership, go to To watch a Warner Bros. trailer of the movie, visit To learn more about the Eco-Schools program and how you can get involved, see

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