NWF View: Working Together
NWF and its affiliates advance conservation priorities
- Collin O’Mara, President & Chief Executive Officer
- Sep 29, 2014
IMPORTANT WORK TO PROTECT WILDLIFE is occurring all across America. Since starting my job in July, I’ve been traveling the nation, rallying the National Wildlife Federation troops and highlighting the need to protect wildlife and connect Americans with nature—and I’ve been truly inspired by what I’ve seen. Incredibly talented teams from NWF and our amazing state affiliates are involved in significant efforts throughout the country to conserve and improve the resilience of critical wildlife habitat, expand outdoor access, improve environmental education and introduce more children to nature.
During my first month, I went fly fishing in the breathtaking Boulder-White Clouds and Sawtooth ranges and learned about the work of NWF and the Idaho Wildlife Federation to mobilize hunters, anglers and local businesses to establish a new national monument in Idaho. Our efforts include restoring bighorn sheep habitat, improving forest management practices to reduce wildfires and restoring salmon runs.
In Boston, I met with members of our affiliate the Environmental League of Massachusetts and heard about their innovative policy work in the state legislature, which includes leading the region’s transition to cleaner, wildlife-friendly sources of energy. Near Newburyport, I toured a series of restoration projects with which we’re involved to improve the resilience of the Great Marsh—the largest estuary in New England. These projects will protect vital habitat for a wide range of wildlife, as well as six waterfront communities.
Just outside Concord, I met with another NWF state affiliate, New Hampshire Audubon. We discussed the group’s wide range of environmental education programs and ongoing efforts to ensure that infrastructure projects minimize any impacts on the Granite State’s rich natural heritage.
And I traveled to Michigan to learn about innovative habitat restoration projects led by Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ large membership of hunters and anglers. I also learned about the work of NWF’s Great Lakes team to improve water quality in the Huron and Detroit Rivers, address failing infrastructure and introduce families to the outdoors through our new online program, Wildlife Nation™, which utilizes social media.
During my visit to the Great Lakes region, Ohio officials first detected the toxic algal bloom in Lake Erie that shutdown drinking water supplies in Toledo and adjacent communities. My colleagues and I drove from Ann Arbor to Toledo to deliver cases of bottled water, offer our scientific and policy help and see the bloom first hand (above). It was thicker and more stratified throughout the water column around the city’s water intake than I ever had seen before. Much of the media coverage rightfully focused on human impacts, such as the toxicity of the microsystin and how the toxins could not be removed by simply boiling the water. But we also worked hard to focus attention on the broader issues of how nutrient pollution causes these solvable problems, how climate change will exacerbate these events as more frequent and intense rainstorms wash more nutrients into waterways, and the impact of degraded water quality on wildlife.
When you care deeply about America’s wildlife, like we all do, the barrage of negative stories from Washington, D.C., often obscures the great conservation work going on across our nation. What I saw on the ground made me proud to lead NWF and optimistic about the future. Despite the challenging issues, I left each of these experiences full of hope. Because of the generous support from members like you, we are protecting wildlife and connecting Americans with the natural world. Time and time again during my travels, I saw good people from all walks of life and political persuasions working together to advance tangible and effective conservation priorities.
NWF is unique in this sense. Among all organizations in the country, NWF and its federation of 49 state affiliates are uniquely able to bring together a broad base of Americans, from hunters and anglers, to birders and hikers, to foresters and gardeners—all united by a shared love of wildlife—to achieve meaningful conservation results. Now, we must redouble these efforts. I encourage you to learn more about the great work going on in your part of the country and get even more involved in our crucial efforts at www.nwf.org. It’s never been more important for us to be good at what we do. See you outdoors!
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