DC Legislative Update March 15-19, 2021

Congressional News

  • Last week, the Senate held multiple, bipartisan votes to confirm Biden administration cabinet nominees, including:
    • The Senate voted 66-34 to confirm Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
    • The Senate voted 70-30 to confirm Merrick Garland for attorney
    • The Senate voted 66-34 to confirm Michel Regan as Administer of the EPA.
    • Last week the Senate passed a cloture vote of 54-42 to advance Deb Haaland’s nomination for Secretary of the Interior. We expect a final vote on her confirmation Monday, March 15.
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 20-0 to advance the nomination of David Turk to be Deputy Secretary of
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Senate Budget Committee both voted 7-6 and 14-8, respectively, to advance Shalanda Young’s nomination to be Deputy Director of the
  • The House, on a vote of 225-206 passed the “Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) ”
  • Last week, Representative Cartwright introduced the bipartisan RECLAIM Act to help recover abandoned coal mine sites for community redevelopment, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation opportunities. See NWF’s press release here. The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on this topic this
  • Last week, Senators Rosen and Grassley filed bipartisan legislation, the “Fair Returns for Public Lands Act,” to update the oil and gas leasing system to ensure companies pay fair market price. See NWF’s press release here. Relatedly, Tracy Stone-Manning testified before the House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday at a hearing on several energy development modernization bills. You can view that hearing here.
  • Last week, Senators Whitehouse, Booker, and Schatz introduced the “Methane Emissions Reduction Act of 2021” NWF’s Shannon Heyck-Williams, director of climate and energy policy, was highlighted on the press release here, stating “Methane is one of the most potent drivers of the climate crisis, and Senator Whitehouse’s bill will help reduce oil and gas methane emissions through rigorous tracking, public disclosure, and pollution

These common-sense reforms will buy us some time to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions throughout the economy. This proposal deserves close consideration in Congress.”

Administrative News

 See here for President Biden’s comprehensive list of Executive orders to address COVID, the climate crisis, and environmental justice, among other topics.

  • The administration heeded the widespread request, highlighted in NWF’s affiliate letter, and scrapped the legal opinion that would have limited the Migratory Bird Treaty Act’s protections. The Interior Department is expected to issue a new proposal to revoke the rule that was based on that
  • Last week, BOEM issued a final environmental review of the Vineyard Wind project, see NWF’s release here.

What’s happening this week?

  •  Last week, the House approved, and President Biden signed into law, the final $1.9 trillion relief package titled the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.” The Act, among a host of other positive provisions, will invest in preventing future wildlife-disease See here for NWF’s most recent press release.
  • This week, NWF is hosting partners and affiliates in a virtual fly-in focused on NWF’s agriculture priorities, including the upcoming Farm Bill and conserving We anticipate meetings with a large number of staff and Members of Congress!
  • Now that Congress has passed the COVID reconciliation package, we anticipate Hill discussion and committee work on surface and natural infrastructure priorities. To that end, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats released legislation last week titled the “Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s America Act” (LIFT America Act) calling for investments in the nation’s electric grid, drinking water infrastructure and energy efficiency as part of a larger, $312 billion NWF will continue conducting virtual meetings, emphasizing organizational recommendations from our newest Restoration and Resilience report – located here and in NWF press release here.
  • The House will take up bills to honor Women’s History Month, including H.R. 1620, the” Violence Against Women ” The House will consider H.J.Res. 17 to remove the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment as well as consider two bills to address immigration reform: H.R. 6, the “American Dream and Promise Act,” and H.R. 1603, the “Farm Workforce Modernization Act.”

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DC Legislative Update March 8-12, 2021

DC Legislative Update from the National Wildlife Federation
March 8-12, 2021

Check here for the 2021 Senate Calendar
Check here for the 2021 House Calendar

Congressional News
• Last week, the Senate voted to confirm multiple Biden administration cabinet nominees, including:

  • The Senate voted 84-15 to confirm Gina Raimondo as Secretary of Commerce. In her new role, Raimondo will focus on, among other priorities, managing ocean fisheries and climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

• The Senate Energy Committee held a bipartisan vote of 11-9 to advance Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination to Secretary of the Interior to the Senate Floor. See NWF’s press release here urging for swift floor confirmation.

• The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 15-7 to advance the nomination of Merrick Garland for attorney general.

• The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the nominations of Brenda Mallory to serve as Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (see NWF’s press release here) and Janet McCabe to be Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Votes on the nominees are expected soon.

• Early last week, Representative Pallone introduced the “Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s Future Act” also known as the “CLEAN Future Act.” The bill demonstrated the Energy and Commerce Committee’s commitment to legislation that addresses emission reduction, racial and environmental justice, and a clean economy.

  • Last Tuesday, Senators Daines, Manchin, and Stabenow introduced a bipartisan bill to revive the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit. The bill seeks to dedicate significant investment to support coal communities as the nation transitions to clean power priorities. See NWF’s statement of support here.

• Last Wednesday, the House voted to pass H.R.1, the “For the People Act of 2021.” The bill demonstrates Congress’ commitment to addressing the long-running inequities in our political system in order to create a functioning, healthy democracy. See NWF’s blog in support of the bill here.

Administrative News
• Last week the administration met with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to focus on upcoming infrastructure needs. At the same time, NWF has been conducting virtual meetings to discuss priorities around a sweeping infrastructure package that will seek to address surface and larger natural infrastructure needs, incorporating priorities from our newest Restoration and Resilience report – located here and in our press release here.

• See here for President Biden’s comprehensive list of Executive orders to address COVID, the climate crisis, and environmental justice, among other topics.

What’s happening this week?
• Last week, the House passed H.R.1319, their version of the budget reconciliation package titled the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,” to address President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan. Over the weekend the Senate voted 50-49 to pass the bill which now goes back to the House for a vote, expected this week, on final passage. See NWF’s press release here.

• This week, the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed is hosting a virtual fly-in focused on protecting and restoring the Delaware River Basin.

• We expect the Senate to schedule floor votes on President Biden’s cabinet nominations for later this week, including votes on Marcia Fudge, Merrick Garland, and a cloture vote on Michael Regan and Deb Haaland.

• The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Senate Energy and Natural Resources announced their rosters of subcommittee leaders, see the full list for EPW here and proposed ENR list here.

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Biden Administration Reverses Rollback of Migratory Bird Protections

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Biden administration has taken an important step in protecting bird species by scrapping a controversial legal opinion that gutted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act’s protections for hundreds of species of migratory birds. The Interior Department is expected to soon issue a new proposal to revoke the rule based on that interpretation – which was ruled illegal by a court in a lawsuit brought by the National Wildlife Federation and other organizations.

“This bedrock law was designed to protect North America’s birds — whose populations have declined by 3 billion since 1970 — from harm, whether intentional or not,” said Mike Leahy, director of wildlife, hunting and fishing policy at the National Wildlife Federation. “We are extremely grateful to the Biden administration for righting this historic wrong and returning protections to America’s migratory birds. It is vital we safeguard these species and authorize a common-sense permitting approach to avoid further declines so that we may experience birds like whooping cranes and canvasback ducks for generations to come.”

Last week, the National Wildlife Federation and 29 of its state and territorial affiliates submitted a comment letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service thanking them for delaying implementation of the controversial rule, and asking the administration to move forward with a new rulemaking process.

Contact: Anna Vecchio, National Wildlife Federation, VecchioA@NWF.org, 202-797-6662

IWF Board President Rick Cockrum delivers virtual remarks for the 2021 Conservation Champion Award.

2021 Conservation Champion Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ­­– The Indiana Wildlife Federation (IWF) is pleased to recognize two prominent members of the Indiana General Assembly for their longstanding commitment to conservation and natural resources.

State Representative Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis) and State Senator Michael Crider (R-Greenfield) are the recipients of the IWF’s annual Conservation Champion award.

This unique honor was established to recognize Indiana lawmakers for their efforts to preserve the state’s outdoor heritage for future generations of Hoosiers.

Rep. Hamilton recently spearheaded the launch of a bipartisan Indiana Legislative Trails Caucus tasked with growing and maintaining Indiana’s many trails and greenways. She has also been a leader in Indiana’s recycling and clean energy efforts.

Sen. Crider, a former conservation officer for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, has championed efforts at the statehouse to keep our parks and outdoor recreation areas accessible for all Hoosiers.

Both lawmakers have demonstrated a clear commitment to conservation as well as the economic and community benefits that accompany it.

The awards were announced on January 30, 2021 during the IWF’s virtual wildlife conference.

Oppose SB389 – An Urgent Call To Action

We are so thankful to the many IWF members and others who have been so active in their opposition to this concerning legislation.  Unfortunately, this bill is being pushed through the legislative process very rapidly and so we are reaching out to you again with an urgent call-to-action.  Please consider contacting your representative as soon as possible, asking them to oppose SB 389.

Indiana Senate Bill 389 repeals the law requiring a permit from the Department of Environmental Management for wetland activity in a state-regulated wetland, removing protections for isolated wetlands in Indiana.

Rushed through without due care or consideration. 
On Thursday, 1/28/21, SB 389 went through a second reading in the State Senate. A proposed amendment (which had bipartisan support) to send the issue to an interim study committee was defeated by a vote of 19 to 29. The study committee would have enabled some of the many consequences of SB389 to have been properly considered.  With this amendment defeated, the bill now moves on unaltered, and it is possible that there may be a vote on whether or not to pass SB 389 as soon as Monday, February 1st. This rush to push the bill through so quickly and without careful consideration of the impacts is a real cause for concern.

As Indra Frank, Director of Environmental Health and Water Policy for the Hoosier Environmental Council, wrote in her testimony to the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee: “Many of the repercussions of SB 389 are uncertain. We don’t have a solid estimate of the number of acres covered by the Isolated Wetlands Law, so we don’t know for certain how many acres of wetlands would be in jeopardy. We know that wetlands absorb excess stormwater, but we don’t know how much additional flooding will result from the loss of this law or where that flooding will be. We know that wetlands recharge groundwater, but we don’t know how much groundwater recharge we will lose if this passes or where that loss will be.…This bill has raised a plethora of issues….It would be better to sort through these issues more thoroughly and working on solutions rather than throwing out the entire wetlands law. Passing SB 389 and eliminating the wetlands law may make life easier for developers, but it will create heavy costs for the rest of society and for the other species with whom we share this land.”

Why are wetlands so important?

Wetlands are critically important.  They are among the world’s most productive ecosystems, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs. In the USA as a whole, nearly 35 percent of all rare and endangered animal species depend on wetlands for survival, although wetlands cover only around 5 percent of the land.  In Indiana, more than 60 wetland-dependent animal species are of special conservation concern, while more than 120 species of wetland plants in Indiana are considered to be endangered, threatened, or rare. The Indiana Native Plant Society estimates that over one third of Indiana’s flora, an estimated 888 species, grow in wetlands, showing the critical importance of this habitat.

Wetlands also play key roles in the hydrologic and biogeochemical cycles, providing incredibly valuable ecosystem services which directly impact human health and economics.  They play a major role in maintaining water quality, removing or retaining excess organic and inorganic nutrients (for example from septic system runoff and fertilizers), trapping pollutants (including some heavy metals), and filtering sediments – wetlands with emergent plants can remove up to 95% of the sediments from floodwaters.

Wetlands also play a vital role in floodwater storage, protecting human health and safety and reducing costs associated with flood damage and stormwater management, a sentiment excellently summed up by Indra Frank of HEC, “All in all, wetlands are the most cost effective stormwater management infrastructure there is”.

This crucially important service will become increasingly valuable – since 1895, average annual precipitation in Indiana has increased by about 15%; this trend is projected to continue, while heavy precipitation events are expected to intensify as temperatures rise as a result of climate change.  Additionally, wetlands play a role in atmospheric maintenance and help to moderate global climatic conditions, while clearing, draining and filling wetlands releases carbon dioxide.

Ok, so Indiana’s wetlands are important…but aren’t they still protected under Federal law?

Unfortunately, legislation regarding wetland protection has not been straightforward, and correspondence with Representatives appears to indicate that there is some confusion on this issue even among those who will be entrusted with voting on SB389.

Though wetlands in the U.S. have historically been covered by the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA), a lack of clarity in the language used in this Act, legal disagreements over exactly which waters were defined as ‘waters of the United States’, and subsequent Supreme Court decisions have put vital wetland ecosystems at significant risk.

In response to the lack of clarity about the scope of the CWA and following concerns after Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 weakened or withdrew federal protection for millions of acres of wetlands, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers put forward the Clean Water Rule (also called the Waters of the United States Rule) in 2015. This rule extended existing federal protections of large bodies of water to smaller bodies that flow into them (those with a ‘significant nexus’ to navigable waters), including rivers, small waterways, intermittent streams and wetlands.  However, with court challenges from a number of states and several industry groups, the rule was stayed nationwide by the U.S. Court of Appeals.  In February, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order directing the EPA and the Department of the Army to review and rescind or revise the 2015 Rule.  The 2015 Rule was repealed by the Trump administration in 2019, and in 2020 it was replaced with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule has stripped more than half of US wetlands of Federal protections and loosened regulation further.  While major water bodies remain protected, there is no longer a Federal requirement for a permit to drain or discharge pollution into ephemeral streams and wetlands or ‘isolated’ wetlands – those that don’t have a regular surface connection to a larger, protected water body.  According to the Audubon Society, the water bodies no longer protected include some of the most important bird habitat on the continent.  Many of these ephemeral and isolated wetlands play critical roles in watersheds and in habitat provision.  ‘Isolated’ is also a bit of misleading term – while these wetlands may not have clear surface connections, they are often linked to other water bodies through the water table.

In Indiana, the Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) estimates that more than one-third of the state’s 800,000 acres of wetlands may be classified as isolated, including globally rare dune and swale wetland complexes.

Thankfully, many of these isolated wetlands in Indiana have, until now at least, still been afforded protection at the State level.  Isolated wetlands are considered Waters of the State and are regulated under Indiana’s State Isolated Wetlands law (Indiana Code 13-18-22), and impacts to isolated wetlands currently require State Isolated Wetland Permits from IDEM.  There are many exemptions to the Isolated Wetland Law (such as for farming, or activities that will impact smaller areas of wetlands), but the Law has helped to ensure that critical wetland habitats have some protection. If passed, SB389 will repeal Indiana’s Isolated Wetland Law.

SB389, if voted through, will completely repeal Indiana’s Isolated Wetland Law.  If SB389 is passed, critical isolated wetland habitats in Indiana will have neither Federal nor State protection.

Indiana has lost over 85% or 4.7 million acres of the approximately 5.6 million acres of wetlands that existed in the state c.1780. Among the 50 states, Indiana ranks 4th (tied with Missouri) in proportion of wetland acreage lost.  The isolated wetlands that this bill threatens are critically important habitats that should remain protected.

The bill repeals wetlands protections that currently safeguard these critical habitats……We rarely oppose legislation or advocate in the public sphere, and we do not oppose smart development in areas that are not environmentally sensitive. This bill, however, could be so detrimental to water quality and habitat that we feel we must take a stand”. Cliff Chapman, Executive Director, CILTI (Central Indiana Land Trust).

Threatened Indiana Wildlife and Plant Species Dependent on Isolated and Ephemeral Wetlands 

Platanthera leucophaea, Eastern prairie fringed orchid / prairie white-fringed orchid.  Found in sedge meadows, marsh edges and bogs, this delicate plant is classified as Globally imperiled, Federally Threatened and State Critically Imperiled.

Platanthera dilatata, Leafy white bog-orchid.  Thought to best extirpated in the State.

Carex lupuliformis, False hop sedge.  Found in floodplain forests, swamps and at the margins of vernal pools.   Classified as Imperiled in the State.

Ambystoma talpoideum, Mole salamander Species. A burrowing species inhabiting lowland forest, valleys, and floodplains with temporary or permanent wetlands. Classified as State Endangered.

Lithobates [Rana] areolatus, Crawfish frog.  In Indiana, crawfish frogs breed in shallow, seasonal pools in grasslands, pastures, and old fields. Due to drastic population declines and an overall range reduction, classified as State Endangered and Near Threatened globally.

Please consider contacting your elected representative today and ask them to oppose SB 389.  

Illinois signs agreement to advance Brandon Road project to stop Asian carp

Michigan providing $8 million toward project to build gauntlet of technologies blocking Asian carp from the Great Lakes

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Jan. 7, 2021) — In a press conference today, the State of Illinois and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they have signed a preconstruction engineering and design agreement for the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project that will help block invasive Asian carp from advancing from the Illinois and Des Plaines Rivers through the Chicago Area Waterway System and into Lake Michigan. The project was approved by Congress in the recently passed Water Resources Development Act. The State of Michigan has agreed to provide $8 million of the approximately $10 million non-federal cost share of this phase of the project.

Marc SmithGreat Lakes Regional Policy Director for the National Wildlife Federation, issued this statement in response:

“If Asian carp invade the Great Lakes, they would have a devastating impact on our fisheries, tourism and outdoor recreation economies, and way of life across the region. We thank Gov. Pritzker for completing this critical agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers so that work can move forward on the Brandon Road plan to stop Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes. We also thank the State of Michigan for honoring its commitment to provide $8 million toward the preconstruction engineering and design phase of the project, which will build a gauntlet of technologies to keep invasive Asian carp from advancing from the Mississippi River watershed into Lake Michigan. Combined with Congressional approval of the project included in the recently-passed Water Resources Development Act, this agreement shows how the protection of our Great Lakes water, jobs, and way of life is a uniting force across state and party boundaries. Asian carp are truly a national problem requiring this national solution.”

Learn more about the effort to stop Asian carp at www.greatlakesconservation.com or by watching the National Wildlife Federation film, “Against the Current.”

Photo attached: Silver carp
Photo credit: National Wildlife Federation

Visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at NWF.org/News.
Contact: Drew YoungeDyke, National Wildlife Federation, youngedyke@nwf.org, 734-887-7119


The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly-changing world. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

New Film Explores National Scope of Asian Carp Threat

National Wildlife Federation’s “Against the Current” shows the threat of Asian carp to the Great Lakes and their current impacts in Southern and Midwestern waters.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Oct. 15, 2020) – A new film released today explores the national scope of the problems caused by invasive Asian carp. The film focuses on the impact Asian carp have on the values and economies they threaten in the Great Lakes and the impacts they’re currently having in Southern and Midwestern waters.  Furthermore, it highlights what’s needed to stop them. Against the Current, released by the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center, features diverse viewpoints representing scientific, tribal, business, tourism, fishing, outdoor recreation, and conservation communities from northern Michigan to Tennessee.

“We deliberately explored the often underpublicized – but extremely important – values at risk from invasive Asian carp across a wide swath of the country.” said Drew YoungeDyke, director of conservation partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center and executive producer of the film. “We often hear of potential impacts to the Great Lakes sport fishery but we also wanted to show the threat to connected inland waters, tribal fisheries, and the outdoor recreation and tourism economies. We hear frustration that nothing is being done about Asian carp, so we wanted to show some of the projects already completed, as well as the things that still need to be done to stop Asian carp. We wanted to show the impact they’re already having in places that we don’t often hear about like inland rivers in Indiana, and in ways we don’t often hear about like property values and even duck hunting in Tennessee. The film shows that Asian carp aren’t just a Great Lakes fishing issue, they’re a national issue affecting our waters, our economies, and our way of life.”

The film features the perspectives of Doug Craven of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, Ali Shakoor of Wayne State University, Ella Skrocki of Sleeping Beer Surf and Kayak, Chad Munger of Mammoth Distilling, Tom Werkman of Werkman Outfitters, Emily Wood of the Indiana Wildlife Federation, Dave Hosler of Pile Cast Fly Fishing, Don Cranfill of Driftwood Outdoors, Robert Hirschfeld of Prairie Rivers Network, Bill Cooksey of Vanishing Paradise, Mike Butler of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, and Marc Smith of the National Wildlife Federation, and is narrated by YoungeDyke.

It was filmed, produced, and edited by Jordan Brown of Michigan Out-of-Doors TV and supported by a grant from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust and donations from Rep Your Water and Favorite Fishing Rods. Shorter versions of it recently premiered on Detroit Public TV’s Great Lakes Now program and on Michigan Out-of-Doors TV.

Against the Current can be viewed on YouTubeVimeo, and on the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center’s Facebook page.

Visit www.greatlakesconservation.com for more information about invasive Asian carp.


Contact: Drew YoungeDyke, National Wildlife Federation, youngedyked@nwf.org, 734-887-7119
Photo: Silver Carp (still frame from the film Against the Current). Credit: National Wildlife Federation

Silver Carp Closeup.jpg

The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly-changing world. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Support Indiana Wildlife While You Shop at Kroger!

Support the IWF with Kroger Community Rewards

With a card swipe, you can make an impact. The Kroger Community Rewards program provides shoppers with the option to support the Indiana Wildlife Federation (IWF). Every time you go to the grocery and use your Shopper’s Card, Kroger will donate funds to help support Indiana’s lands and wildlife.

The best part? Once you set it up, you don’t have to worry about it. The steps below will walk you through this one-time enrollment process:

Step 1: Create a Kroger digital account. It just requires some simple information and your Shopper’s Card. Click here to create your digital account. If you don’t have a Shopper’s Card, you can get one at your local Kroger.

Step 2:  Link your Shopper’s Card to the IWF. Now that you have a digital account, you need to sign in and search for your organization. You can find the IWF by searching Indiana Wildlife Federation or HW118. Select the organization and then click “Save.”

If you run into any issues, contact the Kroger Help Center.

Step 3: Watch your contributions stack up. Now that your account is connected, your shopping trips will apply to the program. Kroger will donate annually to the IWF based on your percentage of spending as it relates to the total spending of all participating Kroger Community Rewards organizations. You don’t spend a dime!

That’s it! It’s a simple way to support Hoosier wildlife. One grocery trip at a time.

How Can We Best Protect Indiana’s Aquatic Species and Water Supplies?

Indiana is home to a host of beautiful bodies of water — including Big Blue River, Blue River, East Fork White River, Tippecanoe River, and Walnut Creek — to name just a few. According to independent research group Environment America, however, Indiana has the highest water pollution levels of any state. In 2012 alone, industrial facilities got rid of 206 million pounds of toxic chemicals into US waterways and around 17 million of these were in Indiana. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management states that the figures are lower than Environment America reports but does state that the state needs to improve when it comes to water quality. State conservation programs are already underway to improve the situation but individuals and families can also do their share to reduce contamination.

Know the Effect of Human Action on Animals

It is not only toxic dumping that is harming Indiana’s waters; stormwater gathers chemicals from city roads and brings them into rivers. This harms aquatic species in many ways, interfering with the delicate habitats they need to thrive. When these chemicals are washed into waterways, they reduce oxygen levels in the water. Exposure to heavy metals, meanwhile, impairs a fish’s ability to smell and source food. Chemicals can also cause the proliferation of algal blooms, which are then consumed by fish and by their predators. Human health, too, can be affected through the consumption of contaminated fish. It is therefore important to offset these processes by choosing to lead more sustainable lives — starting with recycling efforts and continuing with the items that you purchase.

What Can Individuals Do About It?

There are many ways that families can help contribute to cleaner waters. One way is by supporting companies with a reputation for environmental sustainability. Some of the industries contributing to the problem include those manufacturing paint, fertilizers, chemicals, dyes, and the like. It is important for individuals to research the sustainability philosophies of everything from fashion to interior design. Families that have pets such as fish should build environmentally friendly aquariums with rocks, recycled tubes, and other elements instead of aquatic plants taken from bodies of water. In fact, aquatic plant cuttings can be taken from existing aquariums or dedicated farms so as not to interfere with aquatic ecosystems. Those interested in owning fish can also choose freshwater species, which require less energy to maintain in good health than sea water fish.

Protecting Fish When You are On a Boat

If you enjoy taking a boat out to enjoy a day on the waters, make sure your boat is well maintained and devoid of oil and gas leaks. Drain your board when you exit a body of water, so you don’t transport chemicals from one body of water to another. Keep it clean and tidy, packaging food in reusable and recyclable items if possible. Don’t throw any food, items, or fish waste into the waterway, since this can cause contamination.

State Intervention

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is also doing its share to improve the situation. It has committed to promoting sustainable, economically feasible water conservation measures. The latter include applying sound planning principles, promoting the efficient use of water, identifying and sharing best management practices, and more. The state is also improving monitoring of water quality, developing educational programs, and researching into new ways to improve water conservation and water use efficiency.

The problem of water pollution in Indiana is one that is of concern both to human beings and aquatic animals. State environmental programs can do plenty to ensure and maintain good water quality. So, too, can individuals — by backing sustainable companies, keeping it clean when they are out on boats, and reusing and recycling items to end wasteful consumption.

– Lucy Wyndham, Guest Contributor

Asian carp

House Panel Approves Brandon Road Project to Stop Asian Carp

Water Resources Development Act also reduces state cost-share, allows for new technologies

National Wildlife Federation, July 21, 2020

ANN ARBOR, MICH.— The Brandon Road project, included in the Water Resources Development Act that passed out of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week, will help stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. The project also reduced the local cost share requirement of the project from 35% to 20%, easing the financial burden on the state of Illinois.

In addition, the bill allows for new technologies to be considered in the project thus providing more flexibility for potentially even more effective control options to be added in the future. The bill now heads to the full House for approval and eventual negotiations with the Senate’s version, which also approved the Brandon Road project.

“Invasive Asian carp are a national problem to our nation’s waters, fisheries, and way of life. The Brandon Road project is the best opportunity we have to keep them from invading the Great Lakes and spreading to countless new waters, while simultaneously putting people to work building the new lock and dam.” said Marc Smith, policy director for the National Wildlife Federation. “The design of the engineered channel includes multiple carp deterrent technologies and the inclusion of new technologies could increase the effectiveness of the design while potentially reducing costs as more efficient technologies are developed. We thank the bipartisan members of Congress for their diligence in finding national solutions to stop invasive Asian carp.”

Staying Safe And Protecting Wildlife While Visiting Indiana’s Parklands

Staying Safe And Protecting Wildlife While Visiting Indiana’s Parklands

Last year, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore became Indiana’s first National Park. The Dunes, along with three other major parks, a national forest and wilderness area, provide plenty of opportunities in Indiana for visitors of all ages to enjoy outdoor activities, or simply appreciate beautiful scenery and the abundance of plant and animal species in the State. Protecting wildlife is a priority in these areas, but by encouraging the use of designated nature trails, visitors can safely view wildlife and interact with the environment without disrupting ecosystems. By becoming more aware of the natural environment, the public can avoid putting themselves in danger and help to conserve wildlife habitats for the benefit of all.

Ensuring Health And Safety On Nature Preserves

Following a hiking or cycling trail makes a great family day out, and Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also organizes guided hikes through nature reserves. Tourists from out of state will want to stay healthy in order to fully appreciate their time exploring Indiana. Practicing good hygiene habits such as hand washing is an effective way to avoid falling ill on holiday, and, on a long hike, walkers should ensure that they are well rested and hydrated throughout the day. For higher risk activities such as climbing and canoeing, adequate insurance will also give travelers greater peace of mind. To further protect the well-being of visitors, Conservation Officers are on patrol in national wildlife refuges and other federal lands. The officers are looking out for infractions such as littering and out of season hunting, but they are also available to guide visitors and ensure their safety while on public land.

Staying Watchful On Waterways

With 19 large natural lakes and numerous other waterways, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Indiana’s natural beauty from the water. Of course, great care must be taken around water, and wearing a life jacket is recommended. Throughout the summer, visitors should avoid contact with water containing abundant blue-green algae blooms, as they can contain toxins that are dangerous to people and animals. However, in clearer water, paddling is a great way to safely observe aquatic wildlife and connect with nature. After an extensive reintroduction program, there are much larger numbers of river otters, and impressive aquatic birds like the great egret are a more common sight.

Keeping Vigilant In Wooded Areas

Spotting different types of wildlife can be thrilling, but all animals should be viewed from a distance. Picking up a young squirrel or cottontail rabbit will leave a human scent on their fur that could make them more vulnerable to predators. Even if they appear tame, wild animals will bite and scratch if they are handled, and they could also be carrying insects such as fleas. In grasslands and woodlands, walkers should also be aware of another parasitic insect, the deer tick, that can live on grass blades waiting to attach itself to a passing host. Ticks can cause Lyme disease in humans, but covering up and wearing insect spray that contains DEET will deter them, as well as other pests such as mosquitoes. Through safely interacting with the environment and observing wildlife from a distance, visitors can appreciate all that Indiana’s nature preserves and parklands have to offer without endangering themselves or the natural habitats that they have come to enjoy.

Lucy Wyndham, Guest Contributor

Indiana Wildlife Federation releases a statement on race and inclusion

We share viewpoint of the National Wildlife Federation that stands in solidarity with those who demand justice for the constant stream of deaths of black men and women. We won’t reach our aspiration for a better and equitable future until all people can safely enjoy the outdoors without fear of violence or racism.

Additionally, the Indiana Wildlife Federation believes that in order to be the best collaborators to address our state’s most pressing conservation issues, that every person must have a seat at the table regardless of their race, gender ethnicity, sexual identity, socio-economic status, age, ability, religion, and political philosophy.

We fully acknowledge that we can carry out our work with greater mindfulness and inclusivity if we recognize the social, economic, and political contexts that shaped the early environmental and conservation movements, and resulted in cultural biases that permeate our institutions today.

Only by understanding and addressing these biases will we justly and equitably engage with one another while pursuing our conservation goals.

Grown-Up Coloring Contest: Play for this IWF Prize Pack


While our Kid’s Quiz is active for Indiana students in 1st-8th grades, this coloring competition is for anyone 9th grade and up! Choose from the 2 contest images below that were created by Hoosier artist Brian Stovall just for this competition.


Eligible entries must be submitted by Indiana residents that are in the 9th grade or higher (adults encouraged!) To win the prize pack below, your entry must be submitted no later than Friday, May 22nd 2020 at 11:59pm to Jenny Blake (blake@indianawildlife.org). Entries should be scanned or photographed and the email should include your full name, age, shipping address, and t-shirt size (S, M, L, XL, XXL).  Accepted file formats: .pdf, .png, .jpg. Photographs of entries will not be judged on photo quality, but please try to submit pictures that are clear and in bright light.

Coloring submissions will be judged by IWF staff and narrowed to a top 3.  Online voting for the winner of the top 3 will occur the week of May 25-29 via IWF’s Facebook Page. The image with the most Facebook “likes” will win the prize pack; which will ship by June 1st.



-Bluebird House

-#Garden4Wildlife issue of National Wildlife Magazine

-Short-sleeved IWF logo t-shirt

-IWF decal

-IWF magnet




Images can be colored realistically, or with a creative twist. Judges will be considering detail, creativity, accuracy, and general aesthetic. 

Wilder Times with Bears

by Jenny Blake, Indiana Wildlife Federation Sustainable Trails Coordinator

Someone recently asked me what it was like to be a U.S. Park Ranger. That led me to think—why not share some of my wilder times as a Bear Management Ranger with my fellow Hoosier wildlife conservationists?! From 2002 – 2009, I worked in Glacier National Park, Montana. Also referred to as “Crown of the Continent” and “Backbone of the World,” the 1-million-acre park is situated along the northern portion of the Continental Divide and its beauty is absolutely stunning!

I was fortunate enough to be able to work with a species that now only exists in six separate recovery ecosystems within the lower 48—the grizzly bearor ursos arctos horribilis. My duties varied anywhere from intense crowd control at wildlife traffic jams to collaring bears. I’m not making this up!

Wildlife traffic jams can quickly take a wrong turn (pun intended). Imagine taking a leisurely Sunday drive in the country near dusk and you spot a barn owl perched along a fence row. You stop, get out your camera, and snap a photo…maybe even watch it a while as it scans the field for prey. Sounds lovely, right?! Well, now imagine there are 150 other vehicles with the same idea as you that start rolling in one by one. However, not everyone can see so they get out of their cars and walk up to find out what the big deal is. Suddenly, you’re in the middle of a rodeo ring and the owl has shape shifted into a 500-pound fairly dangerous wild animal. We’re back in Glacier now! To add to the excitement, parents often take this opportunity to place their children in front of the bear for that perfect photo!! Yikes!! It could get quite challenging, to say the least!

Opposite of a crowded roadway involves trapping and collaring bears. Let me provide some back story as to why bears are trapped and collared at all. Having a notable population of grizzly bears, Glacier National Park is part of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE)—believed to be the largest population of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states. Ongoing research studies involving population size, reproduction, survival, and trend monitoring greatly improves the collective knowledge of grizzly bear ecology and provides more precise and measurable information to adequately judge the status of the NCDE grizzly bear population.

Another reason bears are collared is for management purposes. Remember that wildlife traffic jam scenario? Unfortunately, there are times when bears receive human food….not good. Bears are extremely intelligent and if a positive food reward is associated with an unwanted behavior, such as moving through a picnic area and eating discarded food left in the grass, they will associate that area with getting food. Sometimes it is necessary to collar an animal in order to track its movement and prevent further unwanted behaviors. When this is required, a small team of biologists and wildlife managers select the trap location based on where they do NOT want the bear to be comfortable or where the bear received the reward. For example, a picnic area, campground, restaurant, dumpster site, or sewer pond would fit in this category. For front country areas such as these, a large metal culvert trap works best to ensure bear and human safety. The trap is baited with a natural attractant, such as a roadkill deer or beaver, hanging on a spring-loaded hook at one end. Once the bear enters the trap and tugs on the bait, the trap door will drop….voila! You just caught a bear!

As you can imagine, the animal is angry, scared and anxious!  Consequently, you have to sedate the bear before applying the collar. Once this is done, the animal is carefully carried out of the culvert onto the ground. Let me back up here and let you guess who gets to go inside of the confined culvert trap with the mostly sedated bear??!! Due to the confinement of the culvert, typically the smallest person gets selected for this task. In other words, many times that job fell to me. I mastered a tactical crab-walk-style method in order to shimmy pass the bear. Don’t worry, we took many actions to confirm the bear was actually sedated…no reason to be anxious here!

Once the animal is removed from the culvert, several steps are taken to ensure it stays healthy while under sedation. The team administers oxygen and monitors the bear’s temperature, respirations, and heart rate. All of this has to happen as efficiently as possible to minimize the time the bear is down–it can be stressful on any animal to be under sedation. After the collar is fitted and applied, the team lifts the bear and safely positions it back in the trap.

Once the bear is fully alert, team members and sometimes even wildlife dogs such as Karelian Bear Dogs position themselves to make the bear as uncomfortable as possible upon release. Once all safety measures are accounted for, the trap door is remotely opened and the action starts! Loud yelling, clapping, barking dogs, and sometimes even cracker rounds (noise maker rounds fired in the air from a 12-guage shotgun) are implemented as the bear leaves the area. Again, the goal is to make the targeted area as uncomfortable as possible so the bear associates the two and does not return. Sometimes they run, sometimes they don’t—it just depends on the animal and the situation.

I hope you have enjoyed these two glimpses of my wilder times as a Bear Management Ranger! All kidding aside, I have a great appreciation for all wildlife and I’m honored to be part of an organization that works so hard to ensure sustainable wildlife and wildlife habitat for our future!!

Asian carp

Conservation Groups Urge Congress to Fund Efforts to Stop Asian Carp

Asian carp jumping from the water at Barkley Dam. Photo courtesy of Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (March 3, 2020) – Conservation organizations representing hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts throughout the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins are urging Congress to continue critical funding in FY 2021 to fight invasive Asian carp.  This funding will help remove Asian carp from waters they’ve already invaded and help keep them out of the Great Lakes and connected waters.

Yesterday, the groups sent a letter to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and the House Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies requesting funding for federal agencies working to stop the spread of Asian carp. Asian carp decimate native and sport fish populations in waters they invade by reproducing rapidly and consuming food resources at the base of the food chain. In addition, they pose a serious risk to boaters as they jump aggressively out of the water when frightened.

“Asian carp are devastating our waters from Arkansas to Minnesota, impacting iconic bass fisheries in Tennessee and Kentucky, depleting native fish populations in the Mississippi River, and threatening to invade the Great Lakes and its $7 billion annual sport fishery,” said Marc Smith, Great Lakes policy director for the National Wildlife Federation. “These critical investments in the fight to stop Asian carp are absolutely necessary to keep them out of the Great Lakes and start to recover the waters they’ve already diminished.”

The groups included the National Wildlife Federation and its state affiliates Arkansas Wildlife Federation, Conservation Federation of Missouri, Indiana Wildlife Federation, Iowa Wildlife Federation, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Minnesota Conservation Federation, Mississippi Wildlife Federation, Ohio Conservation Federation, Prairie Rivers Network, Tennessee Wildlife Federation, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

Specifically, the groups requested that Congress:

• Provide at least $5 million in FY2021 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue pre-construction engineering and design of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam plan to help keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes;

• Provide at least $300 million in FY2021 for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative that will help Asian carp control actions;

• Provide at least $47 million in FY2021 for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to continue critical work on fisheries management and prevent invasive grass carp from becoming established in the Great Lakes;

• Provide at least $25 million in FY 2021 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fund the Asian Carp Action Plan to undertake control actions to stop the spread of Asian carp throughout the Mississippi, Ohio River and Tennessee Cumberland River basins; and

• Provide at least $11 million in FY2021 to the U.S. Geological Survey to fund further research into early detection practices and control technologies aimed at stopping the further spread of Asian carp.

“We believe that requesting this critical funding in FY 2021 for the USFWS, USACE, USGS, and GLFC to continue to implement a national coordinated strategy to advance Asian carp control actions is critical to preventing the further spread of Asian carp and other invasive species and is consistent with our collective commitment to protecting the health and sustainability of the Great Lakes, Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee and Cumberland River Basins,” the groups wrote in the letter.

The full text of the letter is available for download here.


Contact: Drew YoungeDyke, National Wildlife Federation, youngedyked@nwf.org, 734-887-7119

Visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at NWF.org/News.


National Wildlife Federation shares free online content for wildlife education at home.

We believe that connecting children with the wonders of wildlife — online and safely in-person — can help youth thrive during these unprecedented times.

So in addition to providing free access to our educational materials, we are also encouraging the safe and responsible enjoyment of the great outdoors by practicing six-feet of physical distancing (especially in parking lots and trailheads), regular hand-washing, and avoidance of common outdoor surfaces.

Here are a few resources to help inspire young people with the wonders of wildlife and nature:

Even though we’re all working remotely, we’re also continuing to advocate for wildlife with the help of millions of members all across the country. We’re working in Congress to ensure that the various recovery packages, especially infrastructure investments, help restore our natural resources, reduce pollution, and improve community resilience. We’re also working with members to pass the Great American Outdoors Act and the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. We’re also pushing back on the Administration’s efforts to reduce protections under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, limit the role of sound science in decision-making, and other imprudent activities — at a time when federal agencies should be focused on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Providing online educational materials and advocating remotely are just two small ways that the COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping the way the National Wildlife Federation conducts its work. We are taking our responsibilities to the public and our staff incredibly seriously even as we work to unite all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in our rapidly changing world. We have closed all of our national and regional offices during the COVID-19 outbreak and asked all staff to telecommute until at least May 4. We have also suspended all in-person meetings and attendance at meetings convened by other organizations.

Here are the other formal steps the National Wildlife Federation is taking:

  • All domestic and international business travel has been suspended
  • All March and April 2020 meetings have been postponed or canceled
  • Meetings in May and June are being assessed for postponement or cancellation
  • The organization is helping members and activists advocate virtually
  • National Wildlife Magazine, Ranger Rick, and the National Wildlife Federation’s other magazines will continue to publish on a regular calendar.

The threats posed by COVID-19 are unlike anything we’ve seen or experienced in our lifetimes. That’s why the National Wildlife Federation has taken extraordinary steps to not only protect our employees, but also to help connect families with the resources that will help inspire children to love the wonders of wildlife during this difficult time.

We’re all in this together and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

Collin O’Mara
President & Chief Executive Officer
The National Wildlife Federation
703-438-6046 / Collin@NWF.org
www.nwf.orgUniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world

Administration Continues Attacks on Clean Water Act With New Rule

“Since the Administration refuses to protect our waters, we have no choice but to ask the courts to require the EPA to follow the law.”

Contact: Lacey McCormick, National Wildlife Federation, McCormick@NWF.org, 512-610-7765

WASHINGTON (January 23, 2020) – The EPA is set to release a final rule reducing the scope of waters protected from pollution, destruction, and degradation by the Clean Water Act. This rule would leave streams – and even some rivers – federally unprotected that have been covered since the law was first passed in 1972. It would also remove protections for approximately half of the nation’s wetlands.

“At a time when communities across the country are desperately trying to clean up polluted waters and one-third of wildlife species are at a heightened risk of extinction, this misguided rule places our drinking water, our wildlife and our nation’s way of life further at risk,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

“Since the Administration refuses to protect our waters, we have no choice but to ask the courts to require the EPA to follow the law. We simply cannot afford to lose protections for half of our remaining wetlands, nor can we take any unnecessary chances with our drinking water.”


The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly-changing world. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

The 2020 Kid’s Contest

The 2020 Kid’s Contest will end Friday, April 17th!

You can take the quiz anytime throughout the year, but will only award prizes while supplies last starting April 17, 2020. Use the link below to take the quiz and learn about Indiana wildlife.

Click here to start the quiz!

IWF is proud to bring the What’s in Your Wild Backyard? contest to Indiana’s youth.

*All children grades 1-8 who complete the What’s In Your Wild Backyard contest, are Indiana residents, and complete the information form at the end of the quiz, will be eligible to win one of our prizes. IWF will select three winners from each grade category. IWF requires participants to provide their contact information(school address may be used). IWF will not misuse, distribute, or sell this information.


Congratulations to the winners of the
2018 Kids’ Contest!

1-2nd Grade

Genesis N.

Luke S.

Bryson D.


3-4th Grade

Ishmael H.

Josiah J.

Kaden K.


5-6th Grade

Kaylan H.

Heather S.

Caleb O.


Historic, Bipartisan Wildlife Funding Bill Moves Forward

View Source Blog: http://nwf.org/Latest-News/Press-Releases/2019/12-05-19-Recovering-Markup
Lacey McCormick Dec 05, 2019

“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the most significant piece of wildlife legislation since the Endangered Species Act passed in 1973.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act was passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee today, priming it for a vote on the House floor. The bipartisan legislation, which has nearly 160 co-sponsors, would fund proactive conservation efforts to prevent species from becoming endangered and would provide additional funding for species that are already listed.

“Right now more than one-third of all wildlife species in the United States are at heightened risk of extinction — and demand immediate conservation attention. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the most significant piece of wildlife legislation since the Endangered Species Act passed in 1973,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Grijalva and Reps. Dingell, Fortenberry and Huffman, and the bill’s more than 150 bipartisan cosponsors, this historic bill is making important progress in the House and is showing that even in these divided times, wildlife conservation can bring all Americans together.”

 About the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act:
• The bill will provide $1.397 billion in dedicated annual funding for proactive, on-the-ground wildlife conservation efforts in every state and territory.

• The bill will fund additional recovery efforts for the approximately 1,600 U.S. species already listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

• The majority of the money — $1.3 billion — will go to wildlife recovery efforts led by state wildlife agencies. This spending will be guided by the Congressionally mandated State Wildlife Action Plans, which identify 12,000 species of concern nationwide.

• Tribal Nations would receive $97.5 million annually to fund proactive wildlife conservation efforts on tens of millions of acres of land.

• The bill complements the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson) and Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (Dingell-Johnson), which funded state-led recovery efforts on behalf of game and fish species that faced potential extinction in the 20th century.


Learn more about threatened and endangered wildlife in Indiana and how this legislation can help #RecoverWildlife by attending our January 18, 2020 Indiana Wildlife Conference.

Environmental Organizations React to Arcelormittal InvestigationReport

Download PDF Version


Natalie Johnson
Save the Dunes
(additional media contacts included below)

Portage, IN – Earlier this week, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) released its investigation report on August’s fish kill in the East Branch of the Little Calumet River. The report includes details on the incident and its cause, the response from both IDEM and ArcelorMittal, and the description of violations that occurred. The report points to a series of events which ultimately led to the toxic release of cyanide and ammonia nitrogen into the waterway that flows into Lake Michigan. Moreover, the report also indicates that ArcelorMittal had full knowledge of the equipment failure that would result in the “continuous release of thousands of gallons per minute of blast furnace gas washing wastewater, known, by the nature of its origin, to contain pollutants including Cyanide, to a treatment plant not designed or equipped to treat Cyanide.” Environmental organizations Save the Dunes, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Surfrider Foundation Chicago Chapter, Indiana Wildlife Federation, Hoosier Environmental Council, Izaak Walton League and Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter found the report shocking.

“There is overwhelming evidence that ArcelorMittal knew early on that, due to its equipment failure, cyanide would be destined for the river,” says Natalie Johnson, executive director of Save the Dunes. “The egregious decision to not mitigate the impact or immediately report to IDEM, drinking water utilities, or the National Park is absolutely unacceptable.”

“ArcelorMittal is responsible and should be held accountable for dozens of violations of the Clean Water Act, way beyond the one addressed in the IDEM report,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “That’s why the Environmental Law & Policy Center and the Hoosier Environmental Council served a 60-day notice of intent to bring a Clean Water Act enforcement lawsuit against ArcelorMittal for more than 100 violations of its permit, including water quality violations that harm ecological and public health.”

From Mitch McNeil of the Surfrider Foundation Chicago Chapter: “The actions taken by ArcellorMittal to knowingly and negligently send cyanide-tainted wastewater into Lake Michigan, as described in this report, are criminal. The steel industry is important to the economy, but so is Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan supports wildlife, recreation, commerce, and is a source of drinking water. Treating the lake as a dumping ground with such blatant disregard for its beneficial uses is unacceptable, and actions to that effect taken by ArcellorMittal, U.S. Steel, or any other company cannot be tolerated.”

“Research shows that chemical spills into aquatic habitats can have cascading effects that can impact wildlife and the food web for years after the incident,” says Emily Wood, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation. “With the number of threats already putting pressure on our Great Lakes ecosystems, we have no room for companies acting without integrity.”

From Dr. Indra Frank, director of environmental health and water policy with the Hoosier Environmental Council: “ArcelorMittal’s irresponsible actions documented in this report deserve a significant penalty, one large enough to serve as a strong incentive to do better in the future.

“We are very concerned about the continuing history of the steel industry exceeding its permits and not timely reporting. This puts at risk the drinking water for millions of Americans and threatens the sporting fishing industry,” said Dean Farr, Izaak Walton League. “We hope that IDEM and the industry will develop best practices to responsibly produce steel while sustaining both the environment and the economy.”

“The report reveals a remarkable level of disrespect on ArcelorMittal’s part for public safety, wildlife impacts, and IDEM’s regulatory authority,” says Bowden Quinn, director of the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter. “I hope the department comes down hard on the company for this flagrant disregard of proper operating procedures.”

Violations identified in the report include discharges not allowable under the facility’s NPDES permit, failure to provide required notifications, failure to efficiently operate and maintain facility in good working order at all times, failure to mitigate adverse impact, and numerous effluent limitation violations. The violations identified in the report have been referred to the IDEM Office of Water Quality Enforcement Section for further action. Such enforcement actions may include the payment of civil penalties, the reimbursement of response costs, and damages incurred as a result of the spill.

The full report and corresponding documents are available at www.in.gov/idem/cleanwater/2576.htm.

Download PDF Version

For additional contacts:
Judith Nemes, Media Relations Specialist
Environmental Law & Policy Center

Sarah Damron, Chapter Manager
Surfrider Foundation

Emily Wood, Executive Director
Indiana Wildlife Federation

Indra Frank, MD, MPH, Environmental Health & Water Policy Director
Hoosier Environmental Council

Dean Farr
Izaak Walton League

Bowden Quinn, Director
Sierra Club, Hoosier Chapter

Indiana Wildlife Federation Receives Grant to Add Trail at Teter Farm


CONTACT: Emily Wood, Indiana Wildlife Federation, Executive Director
wood@indianawildlife.org | 317-875-9453


Indianapolis, IN (11 Oct 2019) – The Indiana Wildlife Federation (IWF) is pleased to announce it has received a $15,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to support a new trail through the habitat restoration site at Teter Retreat and Organic Farm (TROF) in Hamilton County.

While the Teter Retreat and Organic Farm are best known for the 5 acres of their property that provides healthy, certified-organic foods to local food pantries, food banks, feeding programs and the Noblesville Farmers Market; many are unaware that the larger property (120+ acres) is a high-quality river corridor that provides abundant wildlife habitat and supports a network of trails. For nearly 25 years a portion of the property has been in a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federal program that pays a yearly rental payment in exchange for farmers removing environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and planting species that will improve environmental quality.

The CRP has approximately 30 acres planted with an abundant and diverse mix of native trees, grasses and wildflowers that now support a large number of birds, mammals, insects and other critical wildlife.  As with most natural areas, this area is under immense biological pressure from the encroachment of aggressive invasive species like Asian Bush Honeysuckle and Callery Pear.  This grant will help bring resources and coordinate efforts to reclaim the native habitat and open access to the site.

Emily Wood, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation stated, “Habitat along the White River provides unique habitat for a number of threatened species in our state. We are so pleased to have Duke’s support to rally community volunteers to further protect and steward this space by removing invasive species and adding a trail that can bring Hamilton country residents closer to nature.”

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to address the needs of the communities where their customers live and work. “This project serves two purposes—creating a new trail for the community to enjoy while supporting an important environmental habitat for animals and plants,” said Mark LaBarr, Duke Energy community and government relations manager for the area. “We’re glad to be part of it.”

About Indiana Wildlife Federation

The Indiana Wildlife Federation (IWF) has played a part in conserving Indiana’s natural resources since 1938. As the nonprofit, grass-roots affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation; IWF works to promote the wise use of our renewable resources through educational programs like the Certified Wildlife Habitat and Landscaping the Sustainable Campus. With the support of our members, we are able to continue pursuing our mission to promote the conservation, sound management and sustainable use of Indiana’s wildlife and wildlife habitat through education, advocacy and action.  Learn more or join at www.indianawildlife.org

About Duke Energy Foundation

Duke Energy powers vibrant communities by funding programs that support our three investment priorities: K to career, the environment and community impact. The Foundation annually provides more than $30 million in charitable grants.

About Teter Retreat and Organic Farm

Teter Organic Farm is a non-profit community outreach that grows over 40 varieties of mixed vegetables on 5 acres in Noblesville, IN. TROF’s mission is to combat food insecurity, to build community through meaningful relationships across barriers that sometimes divide us, and to educate children and adults on the importance of environmental stewardship and care.

Photo Credit: Emily Wood

NWF Naomi Edelson to Headline IWF Annual Conference

The Indiana Wildlife Federation has announced that Naomi Edelson will be the keynote speaker for their annual conference on January 18, 2020.  Naomi is the Senior Director for Wildlife Partnerships at National Wildlife Federation.  She is leading NWF’s campaign to secure greater funding to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered and strengthen overall partnerships with state wildlife agencies.  The main effort at the federal level is the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which is attracting bipartisan support in Congress.

Naomi’s presentation is titled, Reversing America’s Wildlife Crisis by Strengthening State Wildlife Agencies for the next 100 years.

Plans are shaping up for a great conference in January.  Look for more details in the next few months, but reserve the date on your calendars now.

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act HR 3742

DOWNLOAD FACTSHEETS: HR3742 Factsheet, State by State Allocation Estimate

The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, introduced by Representatives Dingell (D-MI) and Fortenberry (R-NE), will be the most significant investment in wildlife conservation in a generation. The bill will fund proactive efforts led by the states, territories and tribes to address the nation’s looming wildlife crisis and to prevent species from becoming endangered.

A stitch in time. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will dedicate $1.397 billion annually towards proactive, voluntary conservation efforts for wildlife at-risk. This will prevent species from requiring the emergency room measures of the Endangered Species Act.

Money to the states. $1.3 billion from this bill will be spent by state fish and wildlife agencies, in partnership with state-based conservation entities. The state agencies will use the money to implement their congressionally mandated State Wildlife Action Plans. These detailed plans incorporate science and public input and are approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Nationwide problem. The state wildlife agencies have identified more than 12,000 species in need of conservation attention.

Need for funding. Federal funding is less than five percent of what is necessary to conserve these species. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a innovative solution that matches the magnitude of the problem.

Helping wildlife at risk. The money will be used for on-the-ground conservation efforts such as conserving and restoring habitats, fighting invasive species, reintroducing native species and tackling emerging diseases.

Tribal lands. The legislation would dedicate $97.5 million annually for tribal wildlife conservation
efforts. The First Nations own or have influence on nearly 140 million acres.


Contact your US House Representative and let them know that Hoosiers value wildlife by following these simple steps!

1. Use your zip code to find your legislator.

2. Select the email icon and verify your zip code again.

3. Fill out the personal contact information.

4. Subject: Sign on to HR3742, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act
5. If a category is requested, select: Environment
6. Copy & Paste this Message (Feel free to modify the language):

America’s wildlife are essential for our national heritage and our $887 billion dollar outdoor economy. But thanks to challenges like habitat loss, invasive species, emerging diseases, and climate change we’re losing ground and species — and fast.

Right now, more than one-third of our nation’s fish and wildlife species are at-risk of becoming extinct. Indiana’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) has identified 140 species of fish and wildlife that are currently threatened or facing extinction in our state alone.  The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act stands to add $16M to support the actions in Indiana’s SWAP which currently receives so little money it does not even qualify for federal funding.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is built upon the premise that the best way to save America’s wildlife is through collaborative, proactive, voluntary work before species need more expensive “emergency room procedures” through the Endangered Species Act. I urge you to create a bright future for America’s wildlife and natural heritage by supporting and co-sponsoring H.R. 3742.  Thank you for being a wildlife champion.


7. Hit send!
HR3742 Factsheet
State-by-State Appropriations
Sign on your Business/Organization

EdelsonN@nwf.org  |  202-797-6889

Photo Credit: Emily Wood

New Study: 3 Billion Birds Lost

Lacey McCormick Sep 19, 2019

Research Shows Urgent Need for Increased Wildlife Funding
WASHINGTON — A new study in the journal Science has found the cumulative loss of nearly three billion birds since 1970, a decline of approximately 29%. The staggering net loss of birds shows the need for Congress to increase funding for wildlife conservation by passing the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

“The dramatic declines in bird populations documented in this study are deeply concerning, but not surprising. We are seeing similar declines in wildlife populations across North America and around the world,” said Bruce Stein, chief scientist for the National Wildlife Federation and author of the book Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United States.

“Grassland birds have been hit especially hard, a result of the ongoing conversion of our native grasslands to agriculture. The strong improvements in waterfowl numbers demonstrate that when we invest in conservation — and have strong policies to protect and restore wetlands and other habitats — we can make a meaningful difference. The Administration’s efforts to weaken legal protections for wetlands could, unfortunately, reverse this progress.

“Right now, most birds and other wildlife species in trouble do not have the kind of consistent, dedicated funding that waterfowl have benefited from. The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would be a game-changer for birds by investing nearly $1.4 billion each year in proactive conservation strategies. This new study highlights the urgency of addressing America’s wildlife crisis by ramping up conservation investments and defending the laws that protect wildlife and their habitats.”

Additional Resources:

UPDATE: Oak threat in Indiana expands statewide

Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology

Indiana Department of Natural Resources

402 W. Washington St.

Indianapolis, IN 46204-2748

For immediate release: May 29, 2019

UPDATE: Oak threat in Indiana expands statewide

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed more than 70 Walmart stores and 18 Rural King stores in the state have received rhododendron plants infected with sudden oak death (SOD), a fungal pathogen that kills oak trees. Shipments containing infested material were sent to nine other states as well.

Workers from the Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology have been visiting stores across Indiana to destroy any stock that has been found infested and quarantine any stock that is symptomatic. The division has made this its top priority.

The DNR has destroyed approximately 1,500 infested rhododendron so far and pulled another 1,500 from stores. The DNR has also ordered these stores to stop selling rhododendron until further notice. Any quarantined material not infected will be released following testing at Purdue University.

The DNR is also following up with homeowners that have called in to say they’ve purchased material that they believe is infested or are seeing signs/ symptoms of sick trees in the environment.

SOD has killed large tracts of oaks on the West Coast. SOD has not been established in the Midwest, to date. SOD can kill standing oak trees, which could happen if SOD-positive rhododendron were planted within about 6 feet of a standing oak.

SOD travels in more than a hundred species of host plant material. It causes some browning of the leaves in the host but does not kill it. For a list of those plants see the following https://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/pram/downloads/pdf_files/usdaprlist.pdf

If you have purchased rhododendrons in the last four weeks from Walmart or Rural King, destroy them, or call 1-866-NO-EXOTIC (663-9684) or the local county extension office at 1-888-EXT-INFO (1-888-398-4636) for instructions.

This is an ongoing investigation, and guidance could change as more information is gathered.
To learn more about SOD, see: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/plant-pest-and-disease-programs/pests-and-diseases/phytophthora-ramorum/sod.

Related news release: DNR finds oak threat in store rhododendrons, May 22, 2019

To view all DNR news releases, please see dnr.IN.gov.

Media contact: Megan Abraham, Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology, 317-232-4189,

Great Lakes Conservation Coalition Urges Swift Approval of Final Asian Carp Plan Coalition of hunting, angling groups supports the Brandon Road Lock & Dam plan

Contact: Drew YoungeDyke, National Wildlife Federation, youngedyked@nwf.org, 734-757-0408

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (May 24, 2019) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) approved a final plan to stop Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan by rebuilding the Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River. The Brandon Road plan will add a gauntlet of fish deterrent technologies within an engineered channel. The chief’s report will now be sent to Congress for approval and funding.

The Great Lakes Conservation Coalition, a coalition of hunting, fishing, and conservation organizations representing millions of hunters and anglers in the Great Lakes region, issued the following statement in response:

“After several years and delay, We are excited to finally see the Corps submit this plan to help stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes to Congress. This critical step in the process is the result of diligent efforts by hunters, anglers, and conservationists across the Great Lakes and the nation to advocate for this plan, including the support of more than 200 hunting, fishing, and conservation organizations. Furthering the relevant timing of the submission of this report, the news just last week that Asian carp eDNA was detected just six miles from Lake Michigan emphasizes the urgency now required of Congress to approve and fund this plan without delay. Asian carp are a national problem requiring a national solution.”

Just last week, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service posted results showing six positive environmental DNA (eDNA) detections for Asian carp in Lake Calumet, just six miles from Lake Michigan. For more context on what that means, visit: https://greatlakesconservation.com/2019/05/23/fish-forensics-asian-carp-edna-found-close-to-the-great-lakes/.


For the press release announcing the support for the plan from 200 hunting, fishing, and conservation organizations, visit this link: https://greatlakesconservation.com/2019/02/22/over-200-hunting-fishing-conservation-groups-support-plan-to-stop-asian-carp/.


Learn more at www.greatlakesconservation.com.


The Great Lakes Conservation Coalition is an informal affiliation of conservation groups working in the Great Lakes region and collectively representing millions of hunters and anglers. Working together, we help advance solutions to the conservation challenges threatening our fish, wildlife, and outdoor heritage. The Great Lakes Conservation Coalition steering committee includes Ducks Unlimited, the Illinois Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Indiana Wildlife Federation, the Izaak Walton League of AmericaMichigan United Conservation ClubsMinnesota Conservation Federation, the National Wildlife Federation, the Ohio Conservation FederationTrout Unlimited, and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.


Photo Credit: Maria Overlay

Take Action for Wildlife


A package of bills that could greatly improve the future of America’s wildlife—and the lands and waters we share with them—just passed the Senate. Now, we need your voice to ensure it passes out of the House and is signed into law.

I can’t overstate what a great win for wildlife and our wild public lands and waters it will be to get this package of public lands bills signed into law.

Please send your member of the House of Representatives a message right now urging them to vote YES on the public lands package to revive and make permanent America’s best program for protecting the lands and waters we share with wildlife.


That program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, provides protections for everything from huge swaths of habitat for grizzly bears and mountain goats to support for parks and outdoor spaces that nurture butterflies in our cities. It has touched the lives of people in every county in this country. With this vote, it will be a permanent program for the first time ever.

And if that’s not historic enough, it is just one bill in the package of over 100 public lands bills that the House will be voting on. These bills will protect over a million acres of wilderness, hundreds of miles of wild and scenic designations for rivers, and a suite of bills for the sporting conservation community that’s been over a decade in the making.

This package of conservation bills is a bright and healthy light during a divisive time—proving that protecting our nation’s wildlife and wild public lands and waters has a remarkable power to heal and bring people together.

Please do one thing to secure this win for wildlife. Click here to send a message to your Member of Congress.

Ask them to support the public lands package. Let them know they will be making history by casting a vote to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Ask for their support to protect over a million acres of our wild public lands and hundreds of miles of our waterways.

We’re so close to a historic win for wildlife and our wild public lands and waters, and you can help ensure it. The vote is happening within days. Please take action now!

Thank you so much.

With gratitude,

Tracy Stone-Manning
Senior Advisor for Public Lands
National Wildlife Federation Action Fund

National Wildlife Federation Honors Indianapolis, Indiana as one of America’s Top 10 Cities for Wildlife

Reston, VA (March 12, 2019) – The National Wildlife Federation is honoring the nation’s most wildlife-friendly cities as part of its 81st annual National Wildlife Week and Indianapolis, IN earned the number four spot on the list.

Wildlife in urban and suburban areas face tremendous stress as we chop down trees, plant yards, drain wetlands, install storm water systems, erect buildings and pave roads. Wildlife need our help to survive. In our “Top 10 Cities for Wildlife,” we recognize cities that are not only taking direct action to help wildlife, but their residents are also creating wildlife habitat in their backyards, balconies, at schools and throughout their communities.

The National Wildlife Federation’s Urban Wildlife Program ranked America’s 100 largest cities based on several important criteria for wildlife, including the amount of parkland within the city, participation in urban wildlife programs and citizen action measured by citizen participation in the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program. Certified Wildlife Habitats are properties that provide all the necessary elements for wildlife to survive – food, water, cover and places for wildlife to raise their young, while integrating sustainable gardening practices.

“The City of Indianapolis is proud to work with numerous community partners on making our city a vibrant community both for residents and wildlife,” explained Mayor Joe Hogsett, City of Indianapolis. “Our work with the Indiana Wildlife Federation has strengthened Thrive Indianapolis, our major sustainability and resilience planning initiative, by helping to identify the best practices for developing a wildlife-friendly, world-class city.”

The city of Indianapolis has moved up from the number eight spot in 2015 to number four this year due in large part to their number of Certified Wildlife Habitats. Indianapolis currently has 1,101 Certified Wildlife Habitats, including 71 Schoolyard Habitats. The city is a signatory of the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge having committed to 10 actions to the date to protect monarch butterflies. The city’s Comprehensive Master Plan has the goal of expanding parkland through the city and creating trails for the community and healthy habitats for urban wildlife.

“We are so excited to have earned a spot on this list,” explained Emily Wood, Executive Director, Indiana Wildlife Federation. “IWF has found in Indy an impressive number of partners that were seeking paths towards a sustainable community. We are building a stronger city by connecting people to our resources for creating urban habitat, supporting pollinators, reducing invasive species, and restoring locations that provide access to nature.”

Learn more about the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife and Certified Wildlife Habitat programs at NWF.org/Garden, about the Community Wildlife Habitat program at NWF.org/Community, about the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge at NWF.org/MayorsMonarchPledge, and the Schoolyard Habitat program at NWF.org/Schoolyard and visit our Media Center at NWF.org/News.


The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization, uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College’s restoration efforts around Le Fer Lake is receiving support from statewide partners.

Duke Energy Foundation has awarded the Indiana Wildlife Federation (IWF) a $15,000 grant to assist in the creation of an outdoor laboratory on Le Fer Lake, a welcoming natural habitat for a diverse set of wildlife on the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College campus. The award was presented on Tuesday in an event on campus attended by staff from Duke Energy, Duke Energy Foundation, IWF and SMWC, led by President Dottie L. King, Ph.D.


IWF —an organization working to promote the conservation, sustainable management and sound-use of Indiana’s wildlife and wildlife habitat— will provide materials and expertise to the College through this project for landscaping using conducive methods and plants native to the area. In the end, it will serve as a venue for research and learning for SMWC’s students and scholars in life-science education, environmental education and other science and sustainability programs.

“Our ability to fulfill our mission to help wildlife relies entirely on our capacity to reach, engage and link together diverse partners across the state.  Through projects and programs like this we are able to unite schools, businesses, government agencies, non-profits and individuals in the conservation actions that will help us protect and preserve Indiana’s wildlife for generations to come,” said IWF Executive Director Emily Wood.

This support brings SMWC one step closer to completing the restoration work it began around the lake several years ago. Last year, a milestone in this effort was reached with the opening of a walking trail around the lake followed by the addition of picnic tables and benches made of plastic caps collected by the students through SMWC’s Caps to Benches project.

In October 2018, SMWC became Indiana’s fourth IWF certified sustainable campus. The College received the Landscaping the Sustainable Campus certification, a voluntary program designed to manage runoff, excess nutrient pollution and add quality habitat space for wildlife on a college/university property. In July, upon completion of a trail enhancement project in Le Fer Lake Trail, SMWC received the Sustainable Trail Certification from IWF. The certification program encourages the development of trails into thriving habitat corridors.

SMWC Director of Facilities Joshua Wood has been driving the certification efforts at SMWC. He is also instrumental in the partnership with IWF. He says he is motivated by the campus’ breathtaking beauty and the desire to protect its rolling landscapes. Supported by partnerships with Duke Energy Foundation and IWF, SMWC’s outdoor laboratory could be a shining example for others.

SMWC embraces sustainability as one of its core values. Emily Wood said IWF is grateful for organizations like SMWC for prioritizing sustainability and conservation. “Your college should be incredibly proud of the initiatives which intentionally make space for nature, strive to be good stewards of your campus’s natural resources and above all else you invite your students, faculty, staff and guests to be an active part of that belief,” she said.


(IMAGE: Holding the gift from the Duke Foundation are (l) SMWC Vice President for Advancement and Strategic Initiatives, Karen Dyer; District Manager for Duke Energy, Rick Burger; SMWC President Dottie King, Ph. D.; Indiana Wildlife Federation Executive Director, Emily Wood; SMWC Director of Facilities, Josh Wood; Duke Energy Director of Environmental Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement, Dan Weiss; and Indiana Wildlife Federation Habitat Programs Coordinator, Aaron Stump.)

Docket Number NRCS-2018-0010; Comments on the NRCS Interim Rule on Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation (7 CFR Part 12)

February 5, 2019

Public Comments Processing
Attention: National Leader for Wetland and Highly Erodible Land Conservation
USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service
1400 Independence Avenue SW,
Washington, DC 20250

Re: Docket Number NRCS-2018-0010; Comments on the NRCS Interim Rule on Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation (7 CFR Part 12)

The undersigned organizations, representing conservation, water, and agriculture organizations, write to express our concerns about the impacts of the interim final rule on wetland determinations. In particular, we are concerned that this rule promotes the exclusion of seasonal wetlands from the Farm Bill’s wetland conservation compliance safeguards, encouraging additional wetland drainage in the Prairie Pothole Region and beyond. Given these concerns, we urge USDA to withdraw the interim final rule and instead propose a rule that promotes accurate wetland determinations that include all seasonal wetlands and one that is subject to robust environmental review and public comment.

Over its 30 year history, conservation compliance has saved billions of tons of soil from erosion and protected millions of wetland acres, resulting in healthier soil, better wildlife habitat, and cleaner rivers, lakes, and streams. It is critical that any actions that NRCS takes related to wetland conservation compliance are done in a manner that ensures that the legacy of conservation compliance is not diminished. Unfortunately, this interim final rule undermines protections for seasonal wetlands, encouraging wetland drainage and ignores the letter and spirit of the Farm Bill wetland conservation compliance provisions. Our major concerns are that:

? The rule systematically excludes seasonal wetlands from wetland maps that form the basis for producer compliance. Of particular concern is the rule’s certification of old (pre-1996) wetland determinations that have consistently excluded seasonal wetlands, have been shown to underidentify wetlands by as much as 75%, and that were for years considered too inaccurate to be used.

? The rule relies on aerial imagery from the hottest time of the year (July/August), when many seasonal wetlands have dried out. Seasonal wetlands fill early in the spring, which is when they provide their most important flood storage and wildlife benefits, particularly for migrating and nesting waterfowl. For example, an analysis of three decades worth of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service waterfowl and pond surveys in eastern South Dakota, the heart of the Prairie Pothole region, found that the number of wetland basins containing water that show up in July surveys was 73% lower than in May surveys. Any NRCS wetland determination rule should account for the use of summer imagery and promote the use of and investments in accurate spring imagery.

? The rule relies on precipitation data from a historically dry period (1971-2000), further limiting the number and size of seasonal wetlands subject to the wetland conservation compliance requirements. Coupled with the mid-summer imagery, this focus on drier rather than wetter conditions significantly skews wetland maps towards excluding seasonal wetlands. Even more concerning is that there has been no scientific analysis of the impacts of using this outdated information.

? There has been inadequate analysis of the environmental impacts of the rule, including the potential for impacts on endangered species.

We thank you for the opportunity to provide input into this rulemaking, and for your consideration of the above comments. Given these concerns, we urge USDA to withdraw the interim final rule and instead propose a rule that promotes accurate wetland determinations that include all seasonal wetlands and one that is subject to robust environmental review and public comment.

American Bird Conservancy
Apalachicola Riverkeeper
Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis
Bird Conservation Network
Center for a Sustainable Coast
Center for Food Safety
Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage
Chicago Audubon Society
Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge
Clean River Alliance
Clean Water Action Committee on the Middle Fork
Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma
Defenders of Wildlife
Delta Chapter, Sierra Club (Louisiana)
Endangered Habitats League
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Environmental Working Group
Florida Wildlife Federation
Food & Water Watch
Friends of Black Bayou, Inc.
Friends of Blackwater, Inc.
Friends of the Central Sands
Friends of the Santa Clara River
Georgia Wildlife Federation
Gulf Restoration Network
Illinois Council of Trout Unlimited
Illinois Division of the Izaak Walton League of America
Illinois Ornithological Society (IOS)
Indiana Sportsmen’s Roundtable
Indiana Wildlife Federation
Iowa Audubon
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Izaak Walton League of America
Izaak Walton League of America – Indiana Division
Izaak Walton League of America – National Great Lakes Committee
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future
Kansas Wildlife Federation
Kentucky Waterways Alliance
Lake Champlain Committee
Lake Erie Waterkeeper
Los Angeles Audubon Society
Louisiana Audubon Council
Maryland Ornithological Society
Minnesota Conservation Federation
Mississippi River Collaborative
Missouri Coalition for the Environment
Monongalia County, WV, Izaak Walton League of America
Montana Wildlife Federation
National Audubon Society
National Latino Farmers & Ranchers
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
National Wildlife Federation
Natural Resources Defense Council
North Dakota Wildlife Federation
Ohio River Foundation
Ohio Environmental Council
Prairie Rivers Network
River Network
Rural Coalition
Salem Audubon Society
Sierra Club
South Dakota Wildlife Federation
Southern Maryland Audubon Society
Southwestern Wisconsin Chapter, Izaak Walton League of America
Sycamore Audubon Society
Tennessee Clean Water Network
Tennessee Ornithological Society
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
The River Project
The Wetlands Initiative
Union of Concerned Scientists
Virginia Conservation Network
Waterkeeper Alliance
West Virginia Division, Izaak Walton League of America
Wild Farm Alliance
WildEarth Guardians
Winyah Rivers Alliance
Wisconsin Division, Izaak Walton League of America
World Wildlife Fund

Who needs the Indiana Wildlife Federation?

YOU do—that’s who! 

For generations, Indiana has provided a diverse landscape for all who love to be outdoors.  Whether its hiking, biking, boating, fishing, hunting, camping, photography or wildlife watching—Hoosiers love to be outside.   As the population in Indiana grows, so does the pressure on our natural resources to support these cherished activities.

The mission of the Indiana Wildlife Federation (IWF) is to promote the conservation, sound management and sustainable-use of Indiana’s wildlife and wildlife habitat.  For over 80 years, IWF has been the statewide voice; loud, clear and strong speaking out for the interests of Indiana conservationists and for the preservation of our outdoor heritage so it may be enjoyed by generations to come.


How do we do it?  Through our 3 pillars of focus: Education, Advocacy and Action.  We work across Indiana delivering free environmental education programs that provide clear calls-to-action that encourage everyone to be better stewards of our natural resources and habitats.  IWF is also an agency watchdog in which our board and staff are frequently called upon to give views on bills pending before the legislature, on the actions of resource management leaders and on activities bearing upon our lands, forests, waterways or environment.  We also work to add habitat and expand access through on-the-ground volunteer projects that engage and activate a conservation network across the state.

If you are among those of us that love being outside, then you know it is more than just fresh air and sunshine.  It’s about clean water, healthy ecosystems, abundant habitat and a deep respect for the natural world. If that sounds right to you—then join us and add your support to the growing

Check out the rest of our website to join as a member or find out more about upcoming events, campaigns, workshops, lecture series or projects that you can get involved with. Like us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay connected!

Take Action to Stop Asian Carp

To sign your conservation club onto this regional letter, please send an email to National Wildlife Federation’s Marc Smith before Feb 25, 2019. msmith@nwf.org, Marc Smith, Director of Conservation Partnerships, National Wildlife Federation, 734-887-7116


(UPDATE 1/4/19) Please be informed that the Army Corps of Engineers has extended the comment deadline for Brandon Road by 60 days to Feb. 25, 2019. Due to the government shutdown, this extension is not yet reflected on the federal register, but is expected to be announced soon.

***Begin Letter***

December XX, 2018

Andrew Leichty PMP
Project Manager
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District
Clock Tower Building
P.O. Box 2004
Rock Island, IL 61204-2004

Dear Andrew,

Please accept these comments submitted on behalf of the undersigned organizations as well as our hundreds of thousands of hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreation enthusiast members across the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins and nationwide, regarding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) Final GLMRIS Brandon Road Report and EIS (GLMRIS BR Report).

The undersigned organizations appreciate the opportunity to comment. While we support the GLMRIS BR Report, we have some additional comments, which are highlighted below.


The Great Lakes are a phenomenal natural resource, a network of five inland seas that span 94,000-square miles of surface area, contain 20 percent of all surface freshwater on the planet and comprise the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem. The five lakes — Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario —provide drinking water for 35 million people.  In addition, the Great Lakes support a $7 billion fishery; a $16 billion tourism industry; waterfowl production areas that support a hunting economy of $2.6 billion/year; and hunting, fishing, and wildlife observation that generates approximately $18 billion/year.  Combined, these represent a massive outdoor economy that is an integral part of North America’s cultural and outdoor heritage.

Today, we are dealing with the worst crisis to face the Great Lakes since the colonization of the lakes by zebra and quagga mussels: the potential invasion of Asian carp.  Once the invasive carp invade the lakes, there is no turning back; the damage will be done.  Indeed, the urgent need for action is only amplified by the live capture of a silver carp in June 2017 just 9 miles from Lake Michigan on the Lake-side of the electrical deterrents.  Just months earlier, a U.S. Geological Service report estimated that Asian carp would have ample food to survive the near-shore areas of the Great Lakes and their connected river mouth and embayment’s.  Thus, risking the connecting inland streams, rivers and lakes.  We have no choice; we have to take action now to stop the Great Lakes’ invasion by Asian carp.  And we have to take action quickly, while there is still time to save the lakes, and the fish and wildlife that call them home.

Support of the GLMRIS BR Report

Our organizations are supportive of the GLMRIS BR Report, as this plan is the best near-term option for getting additional defenses in place to prevent Asian carp from establishing a population in Lake Michigan and our Great Lakes. This plan includes a gantlet of technologies (acoustic fish deterrent, engineered channel, electric barrier, and a flushing lock) to prevent Asian carp from moving past the lock, while maintaining navigation for shipping.  In addition, we are supportive of removing the water jet measure and replacing it with an air bubble curtain.

Cost Increase

The estimated cost of the project has increased from approximately $275 million to $777.8 million.  This increase is included for the expedited implementation strategy.  We do understand that a large portion of this increase ($317 million and approximately 66%) is estimated as contingency costs.  Given this, the actual cost of this project could be closer to $460 million.  While this is a significant increase in cost, this pales in comparison to the economic risk if Asian carp invade the Great Lakes. Moreover, and as we indicated in the above section, the socio-economic impact of an Asian carp invasion is worth this increased investment.

Implementation Strategies

Given the extreme urgency and the continued threat that Asian carp pose to the Great Lakes, we encourage the Corps to proceed with the expedited strategy to implement this project.

ANS Research and Technology Development

We are glad to see the plan utilize the approach channel and lock as an opportunity to evaluate and optimize ANS controls and maximize the efficiency of the applied technologies.  In addition, we are encouraged that the engineered channel provides a platform for future control technologies.

As such, we request that the Corps continue to support and utilize the most updated research on technology control options to deter and reduce the risk of invasive species transferring between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.  Given the urgency and high risk of Asian carp and other ANS getting into Lake Michigan, research and development on non-structural and structural control technologies must continue.  Additional federal investments moving forward will help inform the Corps as it progresses with the current GLMRIS BR Report and in identifying a two-way solution either at Brandon Road Lock and Dam or at other locations throughout the CAWS.

Non-structural actions must continue

We continue to applaud the current actions from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Service, and other state and federal agencies in utilizing and deploying aggressive harvest activities along the Des Plaines River and other areas in the CAWS in order to ‘fish down’ the population of Asian carp below the Brandon Road Lock and Dam. We are encouraged to see in this plan that non-structural actions will continue under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  This continued action will help reduce the leading edge populations of Asian carp adjacent to the Brandon Road Lock and Dam.


In conclusion, our organizations thank the Corps for the opportunity to submit comments.  Preventing Asian carp and other invasive species from transferring between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River is an urgent matter that demands immediate action.  We thank the Corps for its efforts in studying ways to address this critical situation.  We encourage you to consider our comments and move as fast and efficiently as possible to finalize this plan and submit to Congress on schedule.  We need stronger controls in place now in order to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from continuing to swim closer to – and eventually into – the Great Lakes.  Without firm and swift action to stop the further movement of Asian carp and other invasive species, the future of hunting, fishing and our outdoor heritage in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River region is at risk.


American Sportfishing Association

Anglers of the Au Sable

Antigo Chapter Trout Unlimited (WI)

Austin Chapter 10 of the Izaak Walton League of America
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.)

The Bass Federation of Michigan

Bush Lake Chapter Izaak Walton League of America
Cass County Chapter of the Minnesota Izaak Walton League of America
Columbiana County Federation of Conservation Clubs (OH)

Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation

Conservation Federation of Missouri
Ducks Unlimited

Dwight Lydell Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America

Fly Fishers International

Fishing League Worldwide

Great Lakes Council of Fly Fishers International

Hoosier Coho Club

Illinois Council of Trout Unlimited

Illinois Division of the Izaak Walton League of America

Indiana Division of the Izaak Walton League of America

Indiana Sportsmen Roundtable

Indiana Wildlife Federation
Iowa Wildlife Federation
Izaak Walton League of America
Lake Erie Charter Boat Association

Marine Retailers of the Americas

Michigan B.A.S.S. Nation

Michigan Chapter, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association
Michigan Trout Unlimited
Michigan United Conservation Clubs

Minnesota B.A.S.S. Nation

Minnesota Chapter, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Minnesota Conservation Federation
Minnesota Division Izaak Walton League of America
Minnesota Trout Unlimited
Montmorency County Conservation Club (MI)

National Marine Manufactures Association

National Professional Anglers Association

National Wildlife Federation

New Alsace Conservation Club (Indiana)

New York B.A.S.S. Nation

New York Trout Unlimited

Northwest Indiana Steelheaders

Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association

Ohio B.A.S.S. Nation

Ohio Chapter, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Ohio Conservation Federation
Ohio Council of Trout Unlimited

Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation

Owatana Chapter of Izaak Walton League of American (MN)

Pennsylvania B.A.S.S. Nation

Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited
Silvertip Productions (Ohio)
Trout Unlimited
United Northern Sportsmen (Minnesota)

W.J. McCabe (Duluth) Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America

Wabasha Chapter, MN Division, Izaak Walton League of America
Wild Rivers Chapter, Trout Unlimited (WI)

Wisconsin B.A.S.S. Nation

Wisconsin Chapter, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Wisconsin Division of the Izaak Walton League of America

Wisconsin Federation of Great Lakes Sport Fishing Clubs

Wisconsin Trout Unlimited
Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

Statement: National Wildlife Federation Supports Updated Plan to Stop Asian Carp

(November 21, 2018 – Ann Arbor, MI) — Yesterday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its final draft plan to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The draft chief’s report of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam includes both structural and nonstructural measures including an engineered lock fitted with an electric barrier, a bubble barrier, an acoustic barrier, and a flushing lock to stop aquatic invasive species like Asian carp, while maintaining navigation for shipping. The Brandon Road Lock and Dam is located just south of Chicago and is a critical chokepoint to help stop Asian carp from continuing to swim closer to Lake Michigan.  The estimated cost of the project is $777.8 million, up from an earlier estimate of $275 million. A previous draft of the plan included water jets in place of the bubble barrier.

A summary of the final plan is available here: https://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental-Protection-and-Restoration/GLMRIS-BrandonRoad/.

Federal Register notice:


Asian carp include species of bighead, silver, black, and grass carp. After escaping from southern United States aquaculture facilities, they have spread rapidly and have reduced native fish populations in waters connected to the Mississippi River watershed, which connects to the Great Lakes watershed through the Chicago Area Waterway System. Asian carp pose a significant threat to our economy, outdoor heritage, and way of life.  In addition, the invasive species is a clear and present danger to the Great Lakes sport-fishery, which is estimated to generate at least $7 billion each year in economic activity.

Marc Smith, director of conservation partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center, issued the following statement in response to the release of the updated plan:

“Across the country, Asian carp are undermining our nation’s fisheries and threaten the Great Lakes $7 billion annual sport-fishery. The Army Corps of Engineers plan to rebuild the Brandon Road Lock and Dam south of Chicago is our opportunity to put stronger measures in place to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The plan includes a gauntlet of technologies to prevent Asian carp from moving past the lock, while maintaining navigation for shipping. The investment in this project pales in comparison to the economic risk if Asian carp invade the Great Lakes. We intend to review the updates to the plan in detail and offer official public comment later, but at first glance this looks like the plan we need to protect our waters, our fisheries, our sport-fishing economy and our way of life.”

Contact: Drew YoungeDyke, National Wildlife Federation, Senior Communications Coordinator, youngedyked@nwf.org, 734-887-7119

Forestry division hosting open houses

Division of Forestry
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
402 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2748

For immediate release: Nov. 20, 2018

Forestry division hosting open houses

The DNR Division of Forestry will host open houses at many of its locations, Dec. 11-13, to share how the division works to protect forests.


At each event, division staff will provide information about recreational activities, major projects, forest resource management, and State Forest planning. Attendees will also be able to speak directly with DNR personnel or submit written comments. Some of the open houses will include a tour of facilities, guided hikes, and interpretive programs. See below for a listing of the open houses and events planned at each property.

“These open houses provide Hoosiers with a chance to receive first-hand information about how the State Forests are working to provide diverse wildlife habitat, forest products and recreational opportunities,” State Forester John Seifert said. “They also allow us to receive valuable feedback from our neighbors and users about State Forest management. I encourage everyone who has an interest to participate.”

Events and open houses include:

Owen-Putnam State Forest: Dec. 11, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the property office, which is five miles west of Spencer and less than one mile north of S.R. 46. There will be a forester-led, short winter hike at 4 p.m. Call 812-829-2462 for more information.

Clark State Forest/Deam Lake SRA: Dec.11, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Clark State Forest office, which is one mile north of Henryville on U.S. 31. Topics that will be highlighted include campground and gun range improvements. There will be a one-mile, forester-led winter walk at 4 p.m. Call 812-294-4306 for more information.

Harrison-Crawford State Forest: Dec. 11, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the recently renovated property office. The office is located off S.R. 462, just past the gatehouse for O’Bannon Woods State Park. Call 812-738-7694 for more information.

Ferdinand/Pike State Forest: Dec. 12, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Ferdinand office which is off S.R. 264, approximately four miles northeast of Ferdinand. There will be a 4 p.m. walking tour of the forest’s lakeside recreational sites. Call 812-367-1524 for more information.

Martin State Forest: Dec. 12, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Martin State Forest main office off U.S. 50, approximately four miles northeast of Shoals. Visitors can view the newly renovated Martin Lake shelter house or join the forester at 4 p.m. for a short winter hike. Call 812-247-3491 for more information.

Morgan-Monroe/Yellowwood State Forest: Dec. 12, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Training Center at Morgan-Monroe State Forest off S.R. 37, approximately six miles south of Martinsville. There will be a tour of the renovated visitor center at 4 p.m. Call 765-342-4026 for more information.

Jackson-Washington State Forest/Starve Hollow SRA: Dec. 13, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Starve Hollow Forest Education Center off S.R. 135, approximately two miles southeast of Vallonia. There will be a tour of the Starve Hollow lake restoration project at 4 p.m. Call 812-358-3464 for more information.

Salamonie River/Frances Slocum State Forest: Dec. 13, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the property’s main office located on S.R. 524, approximately six miles east of Wabash. Call 260-782-0430 for more information.

Green-Sullivan State Forest: Dec. 13, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the property office on S.R. 159, approximately 1.5 miles south of Dugger. There will be a 4 p.m. tour of the campground and lake restoration project. Call 812-648-2810 for more information.

Property staff is also available during normal business hours. Go to the Division of Forestry’s webpage (dnr.IN.gov/forestry/3631.htm) for contact information.

The Division of Forestry promotes and practices good stewardship of natural, recreational and cultural resources on Indiana’s public and private forest lands. This stewardship produces continuing benefits, both tangible and intangible, for present and future generations.

To view all DNR news releases, please see dnr.IN.gov.
Media contact: Marty Benson, DNR Communications, 317-233-3853, mbenson@dnr.IN.gov.

Creating a Welcome Environment for Hard Working Bees

While clearing invasive plants at a Nature Preserve in Avon, a species of bee never seen in Indiana before has been detected. The discovery of the bee is particularly exciting as, over the past decade, there has been a fall in bee numbers across the country. Loss of natural habitats and the use of pesticides have contributed to this decline. As bees play a key role in our ecosystem and crop development, improving local environments and encouraging them to visit plants in fields and gardens is vital.

Paying Attention to Pollinators

There are over 200 native bee populations in Indiana, some of which, no doubt, will have been spotted over the summer in Indianapolis during the third annual Pollinator Count. Projects like this help to raise awareness of pollinators and how important they are to local ecosystems and the food that we eat. By making a few simple changes in the garden, such as planting native flowers, reducing the use of pesticides, and providing shelter in a small pile of untreated wood, hard-working, native bees are encouraged to keep visiting.

Pollinating Indiana’s Crops

Although Indiana’s most valuable farm produce, corn and soybeans, are wind or self-pollinating, other important crops like tomatoes rely on wild bees for pollination. Indeed, tomato farmers whose plants receive regular visits from bumble bees may have 50% of tomatoes grow twice as large as normal. Unlike honey bees, the wild bees are able to access the pollen hidden in anthers in their flowers.They use a method called sonicating which involves biting the anthers and then buzzing against them until they release their pollen. Up until recently it was believed that this was a learned behavior but a recent study shows that it is in fact an instinctive ritual. Apart from tomatoes, the most commonly grown fruit in Indiana is the apple. As an important source of food for bees, trees are often overlooked, however they provide thousands of attractive, pollen-filled flowers, and rely on birds and insects for cross pollination.

Though the nation’s bee population has been in decline, discovering a native bee new to Indiana, and raising awareness of the importance of wild bees, offers hope for sustaining numbers and the quality of the crops that they pollinate. By keeping a check on pollinators and removing threats from outdoor spaces, Indiana offers a welcoming environment in which bees can thrive.

Post contributed by Lucy Wyndham


Photo Credit: Aaron Weed

Scientist: PFAS has been contaminating Michigan population for years

Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press Published 12:28 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2018 | Updated 5:41 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2018

GRAND RAPIDS – Angry and frightened.

Those are not words one often hears from a state government scientist.

But that’s how a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality official said he felt after realizing — eight years ago — the scope and strength of the state’s problems with PFAS chemicals, which have contaminated water supplies and endangered the health of residents at sites around the state.

“In 2010, I began to feel that I was at the edge of the abyss looking into hell with the weight of the world on my shoulders,” Robert Delaney testified Tuesday at a PFAS meeting in Grand Rapids organized by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich..

However, “my fear and anger turned to conviction and determination,” Delaney said at Grand Valley State University.

Robert Delaney (Photo: Paul Egan/Detroit Free Press)

Delaney, a geologist and veteran DEQ specialist, began raising concerns about the threat of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in 2010. In 2012, he said, he sent former department director Dan Wyant a 93-page report that detailed the threat to Michigan’s drinking water and residents. That report was largely ignored and not made public until 2017.

Delaney testified  he made recommendations in the report about how to limit public exposure to PFAS chemicals, but “I didn’t get any feedback until this year on it.” He said he was “just trying to get somebody to listen,” but Wyant — who resigned in 2016 in the wake of the Flint lead-in-drinking-water crisis — “really didn’t understand environmental science or issues.”

Wyant did not respond to an email and a phone message left at his Cassopolis office.

Despite the inaction on Delaney’s report, Michigan is now seen as a leader in confronting what is a nationwide problem after Gov Rick Snyder issued a November 2017 executive order to create a PFAS action response team.

The PFAS family includes thousands of chemicals that are widely used in products such as firefighting foam, waterproofing, nonstick pans and anti-stain coatings on upholstery. These chemicals don’t break down in the environment and have been linked to cancers, reproductive problems and other health issues.

State officials have warned people not to eat both fish and deer from around the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda Township in northern Michigan after PFAS was found in high levels in a white foam increasingly coating the surface and shores of waters surrounding the base. PFAS drinking water contamination is also a huge issue around Rockford in western Michigan, near a former Wolverine World Wide shoe manufacturing site. High levels also were found this year in drinking water near a paper mill in Parchment, in the Kalamazoo area.

On Tuesday, Delaney stressed he was not speaking for the state or the DEQ, but “as Bob Delaney, state employee, scientist, father and citizen.”

“The current crisis we are facing … has troubled me for years,” Delaney testified. “I believe that we are currently suffering as a people because of a lack of protection of our population, especially the fetus, from dangerous chemicals.”

More:Labs will test Michigan deer for PFAS at hunter’s expense 

More: AG’s Office accused of foot-dragging on PFAS pollution crisis

More: DNR: Do not eat deer taken near contaminated former Wurtsmith base

Delaney said that “until 2010, I was under the false impression that when it came to chemical contamination of the environment that at least America had things under control.”

Delaney began testing drinking water wells at Wurtsmith in 2010. After readings showed extremely high levels of PFAS, he began researching the health risks associated with the chemicals.

“The deeper I got into these issues, the more frightened and angrier I became,” Delaney said in written testimony. “I realized that I had been duped into thinking that we were being protected by our laws. We have been contaminating our population for years.”

On the state’s response to PFAS, Delaney said “nothing is perfect,” but Michigan is one of a few states now “shining a light” on the problem.

Delaney said far more information is needed on the health impact that PFAS and other chemicals are having. He said “understanding how we could get ourselves into such a mess is important,” but more important than pointing fingers is working together, including with business and industry, to find solutions.

“I don’t know how much it will cost to address just the PFAS crisis and whether we can afford it, but I do know that no nation can afford to poison its children.”

Delaney testified that a DEQ work group was formed late in 2010 or early 2011 and it produced a “white paper” — prior to his 2012 report — with recommendations on how to deal with the PFAS problem, but not much happened with those recommendations.

Asked after the meeting why the department didn’t act on those recommendations, Delaney said he can only speculate, but he believes it’s because the Michigan economy was still in the doldrums in 2010 and the state was concerned that businesses were leaving Michigan because of overregulation.

“It wasn’t like the director was some bad person who wanted to poison (people),” Delaney said. “They’re responding to public will.”

Asked whether the DEQ director shouldn’t either understand environmental issues or rely on someone who did understand them. Delaney said: “That’s what you would expect.”

Peters called the meeting to help inform the federal government on how to address the PFAS crisis. The meeting included testimony from state, local and national health and environmental officials, as well as Belmont resident Sandy Wynn-Stelt, who has elevated levels of PFAS in her blood after drinking the water for years near Rockford.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declined to participate in the meeting, though the agency sent a letter, Peters told reporters.

Peters said after the meeting the PFAS issue is urgent and one of the first things that needs to happen is the establishment of nationwide federal standards.

“People can’t wait,” Peters said. “This is not something that we can sit around and wait five years for a standard to be created.”

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.

Indiana DNR Grassland Habitat Workshop

FREE ADMISSION AND TOUR: 2 dates/locations to choose from!

DATE: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018
TIME 2–5 p.m. CT
LOCATION: 9522 N State Road 245 Lamar, IN 47550  (Spencer County)

DATE: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018
TIME: 3–6 p.m. ET
LOCATION: 2750 S Pleasant Grove, Lyons, IN 46443

RESERVATIONS: Register by calling Emily Jacob, DNR, at 812-699-0264 or by contacting your local SWCD office.

• Receive information about technical and financial assistance available to landowners for creating grassland habitat.
• Learn about the Grasslands for Gamebirds and Songbirds RCPP.
• Attend a grassland habitat tour led by a DNR biologist

VIEW | PRINT | SHARE the Flyers!

The Earth’s Climate is Changing

Written by IWF Board Member – Coralie Palmer

The Earth’s climate is changing. Global land and ocean temperatures have increased, the
cryosphere has diminished, sea levels have risen and the oceans have become more acidic.
Recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history and the evidence that recent climate change has been driven primarily by human actions is overwhelmingly strong and widely accepted by the scientific community [1, 2, 3, 4]. Impacts of climate change on food security, health, biodiversity, ecosystem services, infrastructure and economic development are already being felt; as rates and magnitudes of warming, sea level rise and ocean acidification increase, ecosystems and human populations will face increased and unprecedented risks [1, 5, 6]

The Earth’s Atmosphere and Oceans are Warming. 
Since 1901, almost the entire world has experienced surface warming [1]. From 1900 to 1980 a
new temperature record was set on average every 13.5 years; since 1981 it has increased to every 3 years [7]. 2017 was the 41st consecutive year with global land and ocean temperatures above the 20th century average, with the six warmest years on record occurring since 2010 [7]. The 2017 average global temperature across land and ocean surface areas was 1.51°F above the 20th century average; for March 2017 it was 1.9°F above average – marking the first time the monthly temperature departure from average surpassed 1.8°F in the absence of an El Niño episode [7]. For the third consecutive year every state across the contiguous U.S. and Alaska had an aboveaverage annual temperature in 2017; five states – Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina and South Carolina – had their warmest year on record [8]. For November 2017, Barrow, AK had a temperature departure of 16.4°F above average [7]. The average global temperature for January–July 2018 was the fourth highest on record, and 2018 is gearing up to end up among the top five warmest years [9].

One of the primary impacts of these increases has been to alter the global water cycle. The ocean plays a vital role in climate moderation; ocean warming dominates the increase in energy in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1970 and 2010 [1, 10]. Increased water vapor in the atmosphere is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG); warmer air can hold more water vapor, creating an amplifying feedback loop [11]. Warming has led to glaciers and sea and freshwater ice melting at an accelerated pace, exposing dark ocean waters which absorb more sunlight, triggering another feedback loop [12].

Arctic sea ice extent has decreased in every season and every successive decade since 1979 by 3.5-4.1% per decade; on March 7th, 2017, the Arctic sea ice extent reached its yearly maximum extent at 5.57 million square miles, the smallest annual maximum extent on record, 471,000 square miles below average [1, 13]. The Antarctic sea ice reached its smallest minimum extent on record on March 3rd, 2017 at 815,000 square miles [13]. Permafrost has reduced in most northern hemisphere regions since the 1980s [1].

Ocean thermal expansion, melting of glaciers and the ice sheets and changes in land water
storage have contributed to a rise in sea level [11,12]. Global mean sea level has risen by about
0.16–0.21m since 1900, with a rate since the mid 19th century greater than during the previous
2000 years and an approximate rise of 0.07m occurring since 1993 [1, 11, 14]. In 2018, high tide
flood frequencies are predicted to be 60% higher across U.S. coastlines as compared to
frequencies typical in 2000, due primarily to local sea level rise [15]. The ocean has absorbed
about 30% of emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) resulting in ocean acidification, with
a 26% increase in acidity since the beginning of the industrial era [1]. Both coastal and oceanic
oxygen concentrations have decreased, while regional changes in salinity provide evidence of
changes in evaporation and precipitation [1, 10] .

Anthropogenic Drivers of Climate Change – Increased CO2 and Greenhouse Gases.
Processes and substances that alter the Earth’s energy budget are driving climate change [1].
There is overwhelming scientific agreement that recent global warming is primarily due to
human activities – there is 97% consensus in published climate research and the National
Academies of Science from 80 countries have issued statements endorsing the consensus
position [2, 3, 4, 5, 11].

Detailed analyses have shown that warming over the past four decades is mainly a result of the
increased concentration of CO2 and other GHGs, which absorb infrared radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface [11]. Emissions have driven atmospheric concentrations of CO2, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years, leading to an uptake of energy by the climate system [1]. CO2 is the major anthropogenic GHG [1]. Atmospheric CO2 levels have varied from 180-300 ppm; in 2013, CO2 levels surpassed 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history, 40% more than the highest natural levels over the past 800,000 years; in July 2018, the level was measured at 408 ppm [11, 12, 16]. Approximately half of the cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions between 1750 and 2011 have occurred in the last 40 years [1].

CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes have been the greatest
contributor to GHG emissions, accounting for about 78% of the 1970-2010 increase, driven
primarily by economic and population growth [1]. Deforestation and other land use changes have
also released carbon from the biosphere [11]. Since 1970, cumulative CO2 emissions from fossil
fuel combustion, cement production and flaring have tripled; cumulative CO2 emissions from
forestry and other land use have increased by about 40% [1].

Evidence that recent climate change is caused largely by anthropogenic factors comes from
climate simulation models, fingerprinting patterns of climate change and an understanding of
physics [11]. Measuring the isotopic fingerprint of atmospheric CO2 reveals that recent increases
are due largely to human actions, primarily fossil fuel combustion – carbon from fossil fuels has
no 14C and is depleted in 13C compared to living systems [11, 12]. Climate model predictions of
surface warming, atmospheric temperature and moisture, ocean heat content, sea level rise and
loss of land and sea ice are consistent with observed changes only when the models include
anthropogenic influences [11]. The troposphere has warmed and the lower stratosphere cooled
since the mid-20th century [1]. This pattern is consistent with predictions from models indicating
that anthropogenic increases in CO2 would lead to tropospheric warming and stratospheric
cooling, while increases in the Sun’s output would warm the troposphere and full vertical extent
of the stratosphere [11]. Direct satellite measurements since the late 1970s show no net increase
in the Sun’s output, while global surface temperatures have increased [11].

The Impacts of Inaction
Impacts of climate change on food security, health, biodiversity, ecosystem services,
infrastructure and economic development are already being felt, particularly in developing
countries [5, 6]. Terrestrial, freshwater and marine species have displayed altered ranges,
migration patterns, abundances and trophic interactions [1, 11]. Surface temperatures are projected to rise over the 21st century; it is predicted that heat waves will be more frequent; extreme precipitation events, storms and flooding will become more intense and frequent; freshwater supplies will change and wildfires and droughts intensify [1, 4, 11, 12]. Ocean acidification, warming and deoxygenation present multiple stressors for marine ecosystems, affecting biodiversity and fisheries and influencing storm systems and climatic feedback loops [10]. Acidification has been shown to impact corals and and other marine organisms, threatening their ability to form skeletal structures [17]. Additionally, acidification alters nutrient cycling, affecting ecosystem dynamics [11]. Climate change impacts are projected to slow economic growth, disproportionately affecting the most disadvantaged and representing a threat to equitable and sustainable development [1]. Many of the socio-economic impacts will be borne by developing nations, and many of the world’s most vulnerable people may be displaced [1].

If emissions continue on their present trajectory, warming of 4.7 to 8.6 °F is expected by the end
of the 21st century [5, 11]. Calculations are complicated by feedback chains, with models
indicating they will amplify warming by a factor of 1.5-4.5 [11]. As the magnitude of warming
increases, so does the likelihood of increasingly severe impacts. Without additional mitigation,
warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to very high risks of widespread and
irreversible impacts; delaying mitigation measures will increase the costs and challenges of
limiting warming and raises the risks [1, 5].

Stemming the Increase in Global CO2
Reducing CO2 emissions will reduce climate risks and contribute to equitable and sustainable
development. Increased use of renewable energy; increased energy efficiency; improvements in
the urban environment and transport; increased carbon capture, use and storage and
improvements in land use are all key to stemming the increase in CO2 emissions [5].

Transitioning to a lower-carbon economy will require significant investment, requiring international and national public finance and private sector involvement; the economic benefits of such investment will be substantial [6]. Finance to support low-carbon investment is growing; climate change considerations are increasingly being integrated into business strategies while the social and economic costs of a fossil-fuel based economy are becoming clearer [6]. Technological innovation, economic trends and global political commitment are building momentum for change; there are multiple benefits associated with climate action and clear links to economic growth and sustainable development [5, 6]. However, action is not at the scale or speed needed [6].

Barriers include lack of legal and regulatory frameworks, existence of inefficient subsidies, lack
of carbon pricing and inadequate finance for new technologies, infrastructure and innovation [5].
Overcoming these barriers to CO2 emission reduction will require an integrated suite of policies,
regulations, investment shifts and innovations and a high level of cooperation at international,
regional and national levels [1, 5]. Cooperation between national governments, the private sector, civil society and multilateral organizations will be critical; technology transfer and financial and capacity building support for developing countries will be key [5, 6].

The Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December 2015, provided a vital foundation
for building a lower-carbon global economy [6]. To date, 195 Parties have signed and 180 Parties
ratified the first universal, legally binding global climate deal which it is hoped will act as a
bridge between today’s policies and climate-neutrality by the end of the century [18, 19]. On
August 4th, 2017, the United States officially notified the United Nations that it intends to
withdraw from the agreement [20].

Climate Change in Indiana
According to a recent report published by Purdue University, Indiana has warmed by 1.2°F since
1895; temperatures are projected to rise approximately 5°F to 6°F by mid-century and
significantly more by the end of the century [21]. These changes are predicted to increase the
chance of extreme heat and reduce the chance of extreme cold, and to alter the timing and length
of the frost-free growing season. Associated impacts on air quality and health – including
impacts linked to allergies, extreme heat and changes in disease-carrying insect populations – and implications for crops and invasive species are key concerns [21, 22]. The annual number of deaths related to temperature and worsening air quality in Indiana is expected to increase [22]. Average annual precipitation in Indiana has increased by 5.6 inches since 1895, and more rain is falling as heavy downpours; predicted increased precipitation for spring and winter raises concerns around increased flood risks, including water pollution from overflowing sewer systems and fertilizer run off, and health impacts associated with increased exposure to waterborne disease, harmful algal blooms and mold [21, 22]. Predicted changes for summer and fall precipitation are less certain, however warmer summers with the same or reduced rainfall may increase stress on drinking water supplies and crops [21].

Rising temperatures and altered precipitation across the Midwest will likely have widespread
consequences for Indiana’s forests, including shifts in the distributions and abundances
of trees and understory plants, and is expected to increase the risk of damage to urban forests,
prairies, farms and other green spaces [23, 24]. Changes in forest composition have the potential to decrease forest productivity and carbon uptake, while predicted changes in precipitation may promote pathogen related diseases and damage seedlings at sensitive periods of growth [23]. Warmer temperatures may increase the number of invasive plant species in Indiana, with plants such as kudzu and Chinese privet predicted to expand their ranges northward [23]. These changes have worrying implications for many of Indiana’s fragile native plant populations and the wildlife that depends on them. Shifts in forest and understory plant composition will strongly
influence Indiana’s wildlife populations, while phenological shifts associated with climate change are predicted to affect migratory wildlife.

Recent studies highlight that proactive efforts to restore areas with climate-adapted species may
ensure the greatest long-term benefits for Indiana’s wildlife, while the importance of maintaining
urban green infrastructure to support economic, environmental and health benefits to cities in
Indiana will likely increase in our changing climate [23, 24].

We are excited to welcome members of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center for their
presentation at our offices on August 30th, 2018. If you might be interested to find out more
about the latest on Indiana-specific climate impacts, please join us …………

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21. Widhalm, M., Hamlet, A. Byun, K., Robeson, S., Baldwin, M., Staten, P., Chiu, C., Coleman, J., Hall, E., Hoogewind, K., Huber, M., Kieu,
C., Yoo, J., Dukes, J.S. (2018). Indiana’s Past & Future Climate: A Report from the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment. Purdue
Climate Change Research Center, Purdue University. West Lafayette, Indiana. DOI:10.5703/1288284316634. https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/
22. Filippelli, G.M., Widhalm, M., Filley, R., Comer, K., Ejeta, G., Field, W., Freeman, J., Gibson, J., Jay, S., Johnson, D., Mattes, R., Moreno-
Madriñán, M.J., Ogashawara, I., Prather, J., Rosenthal, F., Smirat, J., Wang, Y., Wells, E., and J.S. Dukes. (2018). Hoosiers’ Health in a
Changing Climate: A Report from the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment. Purdue Climate Change Research Center, Purdue
University. West Lafayette, Indiana. https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=healthtr
23. Phillips, R.P., Fei, S., Brandt, L., Polly, D., Zollner, P., Saunders, M.R., Clay, K., Iverson, L., Widhalm, M., and J.S. Dukes. (2018). Indiana’s
Future Forests: A Report from the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment. Purdue Climate Change Research Center. West Lafayette,
Indiana. DOI:0.5703/1288284316652. https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=foresttr
24. Reynolds, H., Brandt, L., Widhalm, M., Fei, S., Fischer, B., Hardiman, B., Moxley, D., Sandweiss, D., Speer, J., and J.S. Dukes. (2018).
Maintaining Indiana’s Urban Green Spaces: A Report from the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment. Purdue Climate Change
Research Center, Purdue University. West Lafayette, Indiana. DOI:0.5703/1288284316653. https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?

ORSANCO Pollution Control Standards Information

National Wildlife Federation & Affiliates Indiana Wildlife Federation, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Prairie Rivers Network, Ohio Conservation Federation, Virginia Conservation Network, Environmental Advocates of New York

ORSANCO Pollution Control Standards Information

The Ohio River is an important resource as a working river for cargo transport, a source of drinking water for five million people, a place for recreation along its 981 mile length and a home for diverse habitat for wildlife and fish. The Ohio River Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) is a regional body with the mandate to manage the Ohio River as a basin system, a unique role that was forward thinking in 1948 and just as necessary today.

ORSANCO provides valuable assistance to member states in stream assessment, monitoring and spill response, and administration of the Pollution Control Standards (PCS). ORSANCO commissioners are now recommending the retraction of crucial PCS, which we see as an abdication of their responsibilities for managing the Ohio River as a basin system rather than
individual stream segments. We believe that the PCS and the role of ORSANCO must remain to ensure that safeguards are in place to protect downstream uses from upstream impacts.

–A majority of commissioners believe that there is redundancy between the states’ water quality standards. However, both the states and ORSANCO have congruent functions in the development and review of water quality standards, but that does not mean there is a duplication of effort. The focus of ORSANCO on the mainstem of the Ohio River allows states to
utilize their resources on the other water bodies within their state jurisdictions. The 981 mile length of the Ohio River requires specialized expertise for the development of standards that do not impact not only waters within a given segment of the river, but also does not jeopardize downstream water resource integrity.

–ORSANCO released comparison tables in February depicting a wide variability in the number and stringency of standards by the states. The variability among the states’ adoption and implementation of the PCS should be a call to action for greater collaboration. The issue that needs to be solved is not the role of ORSANCO, but rather the lack of adoption/implementation by the states of the PCS into state standards.

— We acknowledge that states face challenges in the development, promulgation and implementation of ORSANCO’s PCS. This is a missed opportunity for ORSANCO and states to use collective leverage towards getting the PCS adopted among the states so that the Ohio River is managed as one river basin, not individual stream segments within state boundaries.

— Elimination of the ORSANCO PCS means significant investments will need to be made by the states for the technical development of standards, the procedures for adoption, implementation of those standards and future triennial reviews as required by the Clean Water Act. While some states can adopt the PCS by reference in their state procedures, others cannot. In turn there would be six public agencies conducting the work currently done by one entity.

— Moreover, no comparative analysis has been undertaken to identify any permit limits whereby the state standard was more stringent than the ORSANCO PCS. This is precisely the analysis that ORSANCO should have undertaken to fully realize the potential consequences and impacts that could result should this proposal go forward. The ramifications of the elimination of the PCS need to be fully understood for Commission members to make an informed decision. Otherwise,
they are faced with a decision that lacks a full accounting of the impact to the Ohio River.

— The proposed alternatives for managing the Ohio River Basin create a framework for inconsistent standards for the same water body. This could lead to confusion and economic harm for the regulated community as they seek to comply with different standards. Additionally, such a framework would also establish a lack of equity among the states in its attempts to regulate discharges to the river as economic development efforts will be compromised if differing standards are in place for different states.

Forty six years of water program administration under the Clean Water Act has taught us that we need to manage our water bodies as connected systems within drainage boundaries, not disjointed administration by separate jurisdictional boundaries. Any proposal to resort to pollution control oversight within state borders is a step backward. The Compact compels the member
states to act on behalf of a water body beyond its jurisdictional waters, a unique role that demands action beyond parochial interests.

Photo Credit: USFWS

Draft plan to conserve rare butterflies in Indiana and Michigan available for public review

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Midwest Region
5600 American Boulevard West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437

September 6, 2018

Contact: Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 203, Georgia_Parham@fws.gov
Carrie Tansy 517-351-8375, Carrie_Tansy@fws.gov

Draft plan to conserve rare butterflies in Indiana and Michigan available for public review

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public input on a draft habitat conservation plan
outlining conservation measures for the Poweshiek skipperling and Mitchell’s satyr, two
federally endangered butterflies found in southern lower Michigan and northern Indiana.
The draft plan is part of a process by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and
the Indiana DNR to obtain an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act that
would allow the agencies to conduct long-term conservation activities to benefit the species even
if some actions resulted in harm to butterflies.

The plan covers specific actions on non-Federal lands in Berrien, Branch, Cass, Jackson, Van
Buren and Washtenaw counties in Michigan and LaGrange County, Indiana, in the range of the
Mitchell’s satyr, and Oakland County Michigan, where the majority of remaining Poweshiek
skipperling populations still exist.

The types of activities covered in the habitat conservation plan include burning, mowing,
vegetation removal, control of non-native species, grazing, seeding, planting and survey work.
Because these activities, while benefiting the two butterflies, may result in harm to a small
number of individuals, the agencies have developed the conservation plan and have applied for
an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Species Act provides for incidental take permits for otherwise legal activities
that may result in take (harming, killing or harassing) of federally endangered or threatened
animals. To obtain an incidental take permit, applicants must develop a habitat conservation
plan that provides for long-term conservation of the species. Habitat conservation plans spell out
measures to minimize take of covered species, and steps to mitigate for the loss of any individual animals.

Only activities intended to manage habitat for the benefit of Mitchell’s satyr and Poweshiek
skipperling while minimizing incidental take are included in this draft plan. Additional
mitigation measures will not be required.

The areas covered by the draft habitat conservation plan include about 192 acres of Mitchell’s
satyr habitat in Michigan and Indiana, along with about 50 acres of habitat in Michigan for the
Poweshiek skipperling. The states’ natural resources departments will administer the plan;
private landowners interested in conserving habitat for the butterflies may also participate.
To view the draft habitat conservation plan and application for incidental take permit, go to
Send written comments via U.S. mail to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of
Ecological Services, 5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437–1458; by
facsimile to 612–713–5292; or by electronic mail to permitsr3es@fws.gov. Deadline for
comments is October 5, 2018.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws/gov.

Connect with our Facebook page at facebook.com/usfwsmidwest, follow our tweets at twitter.com/usfwsmidwest, watch our YouTube Channel at youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at flickr.com/photos/usfwsmidwest.

Parks Maintenance, LWCF, and Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Contact: Naomi Edelson | 202-797-6889 | edelsonn@nwf.org

Dedicated Wildlife Funding Must be Included

  • America’s wildlife is in crisis — with more than one-third of all species imperiled. This monumental problem demands an equally big solution.
  • The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a fiscally responsible, national strategy to hasten the recovery of more than 12,000 potentially at-risk species through the United States.
  • The bill would invest $1.3 billion of existing funding — collected from energy and mineral fees on federal lands and waters — into state-based solutions by supporting the State Wildlife Action Plans mandated by Congress.


Recovering Wildlife, Parks Maintenance, and LWCF:

  • All of the parks maintenance bills and one of the LWCF bills call for dedicated funding.
  • Three pillars of conservation funding are needed- 1 for wildlife, 1 for parks, 1 for LWCF
  • Dedicated Wildlife funding has broad bipartisan support with more than 70 cosponsors in the House
  • Dedicated Wildlife funding has widespread support of more than 1000 diverse businesses and groups
  • Saying we can only address the national parks backlog or conserve wildlife is a false choice. We can do both and should refuse to play these connected priorities off each other.
  • After all, one of the main reasons people visit our national parks and other public lands is to see wildlife.

Current Parks Maintenance Legislation

After years of congressional underfunding, the National Parks Service is facing a backlog of more than $11 billion in deferred maintenance repairs. National Park facilities are reaching the end of their lifecycles, and the NPS is struggling to maintain the parks system’s enormous infrastructure, all at a time our parks are experiencing record visitation. Congress is now seeking more funding to address the backlog.



  •  2509– National Parks Restoration Act, Sponsor: Sen Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
    • Establishes a dedicated park maintenance fund. Funding is provided through 50% of all unallocated money received from onshore and offshore energy development or renewable energy development. LWCF, Reclamation, and other programs funded through energy development will be funded first. This bill prohibits land acquisition.
    • 8 Cosponsors: Sen. Capito (R-WV), Sen. Daines (R-MT), Sen. Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Manchin (D-WV), Sen. King (I-ME) Full list of cosponsors linked here


  • 3172– Restore Our Parks Act, Sponsor: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)  (Hearing on July 11th at 3pm- Senate ENR Nat’l Parks Subcommittee)
    • Establishes a dedicated park maintenance fund that provides 50% of the unallocated money of the money from onshore and offshore energy development or renewable energy development up to $1.3 billion per year over five years for a potential total of $6.5 billion. 65% of the funds are to be spent on non-transportation projects and 35% on transportation projects.
    • 3 Cosponsors: Sen. Warner (D-VA), Sen. Alexander (R-TN), Sen. King (I-ME)

Full list of cosponsors linked here


  • 751– National Park Service Legacy Act of 2017, Sponsor: Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
    • Establishes a dedicated park maintenance fund that slowly escalates over 30 years to provide a total of $11.6 billion in funding. 20% of the funds will be allocated to roads and transportation. 80% of the funds will be spent on non-transportation projects. Funding will come from unallocated money from onshore and offshore energy development and renewable energy development. This bill prohibits land acquisition and this funding is not allowed to replace existing discretionary funding.
    • 21 Cosponsors: 21 (16 D’s, 4 R’s, 1 I)

Full list of cosponsors linked here



  • 5210– National Park Restoration Act, Sponsor: Mike Simpson (R-ID)
    • Companion bill to S. 2509
    • 11 Cosponsors: Rep. Schrader (D-OR), Rep. Hanabusa (D-HI), Rep. Garamendi (D-CA), Rep. Hurd (R-TX), Rep. Bishop (R-UT), Rep. Torres (D-CA), Rep. LaMalfa (R-CA), Rep. Cramer (R-ND), Rep. Ross (R-FL), Rep. Cook (R-CA), Rep. Walorski (R-IN)

Full list of cosponsors linked here


  • 2584– National Park Restoration Act, Sponsor: Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX)
    • Companion bill to S. 751
    • 80 Cosponsors (40 D’s and 39 R’s)

Full list of cosponsors linked here


Current LWCF Legislation

Issue Overview:

The Land and Water Conservation uses revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling to support the conservation of national parks, areas around rivers and lakes, national forests, national forests, and national wildlife refuges. There is a substantial backlog of federal conservation needs are currently estimated at more than $30 billion.



  • 896– A bill to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Sponsor: Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
    • Permanently reauthorizes the Land Water and Conservation Fund, and directs a portion of LWCF funding (1.5% or $10 million annually) to opening up additional access to public lands for hunting, fishing, and other recreation
    • 12 Cosponsors: Sen. Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Collins (R-ME), Sen. Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Daines (R-MT), Sen. Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Graham (R-SC), Sen. King (I-ME), Sen. Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Isakson (R-GA), Sen. Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Capito (R-WV)

Full list of cosponsors linked here


  • 569– Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act, Sponsor: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) with Sen. Burr as cosponsor
    • This bill permanently reauthorizes LWCF and provides for full, dedicated and permanent funding.
    • 43 Cosponsors: (38 D’s, 3 R’s, 2 I’s)

Full list of cosponsors linked here



  • 502– To permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Sponsor: Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
    • Companion bill to S. 896
    • 229 Cosponsors: (193 D’s and 36 R’s)

Full list of cosponsors linked here

Remember to Register your Off-Road Vehicle with the BMV

Hoosiers who own off-road vehicles (ORVs) purchased after Dec. 31, 2009 must register those ORVs through the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

The registration law applies regardless of whether the ORV is driven on public or private land, although there are a few exceptions. More information about ORV registration requirements is at bmv.IN.gov/2468.htm

ORVs include dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), utility task vehicles (UTVs), and side-by-sides.

A three-year ORV registration costs $30.

Registration is required for all ORVs to enter Interlake and Redbird state recreation areas (SRAs), according to DNR’s Carman Jackson, who manages both properties. Interlake and Redbird are former coal surface mines owned and managed by the DNR Division of Outdoor Recreation to provide public-land riding opportunities for ORV users.

For out-of-state visitors, the state also recognizes out-of-state ORV registrations.

Out-of-state residents with unregistered ORVs can purchase an annual trail-use permit that will allow use at Redbird and Interlake SRAs only. These permits are available at the property gatehouses.

“We are seeing an increasing number of non-registered ORVs arriving at Interlake and Redbird,” Jackson said. “Many Hoosiers  are not aware of the registration requirement. Unfortunately, we have to deny them entrance to the property.”

Registration allows police officers to track stolen ORVs and ORVs that have been used improperly. Furthermore, fees from ORV registration pay for increased off-roading opportunities, amenities and services.

Interlake and Redbird have added more trail miles for all vehicle types and rider skill levels. Recent improvements include shelters, picnic areas and observation decks that provide great views and family experiences.

“These funds are essential for property improvements,” Jackson said.

More information on off-roading in Indiana, including laws, safety and places to ride is at dnr.IN.gov/outdoor/4229.htm.

To view all DNR news releases, please see dnr.IN.gov.

Invasive Plant Trading in Indiana

The Natural Resources Commission granted preliminary adoption to a new rule designed to remove 44 invasive plants from trade inside Indiana. The decision only starts the deliberative rules process. It does not put a new rule into effect.

Invasive species in Indiana regularly move into the forest and restrict the ability of trees to regenerate because the invasive use essential nutrients and block sunlight from native species that regenerate more slowly.

Indiana land managers (private and public) currently spend an estimated $8.6 million managing invasive plants every year. The goal of removing these invasive species from trade is to reduce the number such plants escaping into the wilderness, thereby reducing the amount of state and federal funding required to control them.

The DNR has determined that 22 of the 44 plants identified can be found in trade in Indiana now, but only four are sold with any regularity. To decrease potential fiscal impact of the rule on small businesses, the DNR would make allowance for an additional year from the effective date of the rule to sell affected stock before issuing penalties. The proposal would also allow members of the public to report evidence of terrestrial invasive species to the DNR.

Lynn Burry, Indiana Wildlife Federation Policy Committee Chairperson stated, “this is a great step. When finally adopted it will go a long way to returning Indiana to its natural beauty and wonder. It must now move through the rule making process that includes public hearings. I am sure there will be amendments to add addition plants to the list. Well done NRC.”

The Indiana DNR News Release can found at this link.

Photo Credit: Emily Wood

National Wildlife Federation Urges Lawmakers to Fund Collaborative Conservation to Address America’s Wildlife Crisis

‘The greatest barrier to wildlife conservation in our nation is the chronic underinvestment in proactive, on-the-ground collaborative conservation’

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 17, 2018) —The National Wildlife Federation urged lawmakers to take a comprehensive approach to addressing America’s wildlife crisis as the U.S. Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee hosts a hearing on the Endangered Species Act. Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, urged lawmakers to expand their conversation to include proactive investments in wildlife conservation through the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

“America’s wildlife are in crisis — with more than one-third of all species at-risk or vulnerable to potential extinction in the decades ahead. We cannot regulate or deregulate our way out of this monumental problem,” O’Mara said. “The greatest barrier to wildlife conservation in our nation is the chronic underinvestment in proactive, on-the-ground collaborative conservation efforts for species of greatest conservation need, before these species require emergency room measures under the Endangered Species Act. We thank Senator Barrasso for seeking broad input on the best way to recover wildlife species and we urge the Committee to prioritize reaching bipartisan agreement on providing significant dedicated funding for collaborative wildlife conservation, through the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act or a similar piece of legislation.

“Congress has shown — through the recent Farm Bill and the wildlife fix we championed — that it can pass significant conservation legislation. We encourage the Committee to seize the opportunity for landmark progress addressing America’s wildlife crisis.”

The National Wildlife Federation is working at the forefront of U.S. wildlife policy, and prioritizing efforts to restore wildlife populations across the United States. The Federation worked with U.S. Representatives Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., and Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., to introduce the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this session of Congress.

National Wildlife Federation: Pruitt Resignation Offers Opportunity for Reset at EPA

WASHINGTON (July 5, 2018) – The National Wildlife Federation welcomed the news today that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt prudently chose to step down from his position and allow the White House and U.S. Senate to find new leadership for this critical agency.

“Scott Pruitt made the right decision today,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency has a sacred responsibility to protect the health of all Americans. Fulfilling this solemn duty demands leadership that upholds our nation’s bedrock environmental laws, makes decisions based upon sound science, and respects the Agency’s 14,000 hardworking public servants. We look forward to working collaboratively with Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to address the challenges facing our communities’ public health, natural resources, and wildlife.”

The National Wildlife Federation called on Pruitt to resign in April — only the third time in the organization’s 82-year history it had called on a Cabinet-level official to step down.

Visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at NWF.org/News.

Tips for Fusing Responsible Dog Ownership and the Preservation of Wildlife 

There are more than 89 million dogs living in US households, and a dog is an excellent companion for adults and kids alike. It’s great to take your dog for a walk in the wild, where he can experience the wonders of nature. However, problems can ensue when dog ownership is coupled with absolute freedom.

Our much-loved pets can become a severe threat to wildlife due to their inherently predatory nature. When your domestic dogs competes for food in the wild, he will potentially upset the ecological balance. Aside from its deadly impact, leaving pet dogs on their own in a natural habitat can have non lethal impacts as well such as disturbance of other animals, hybridization, and transmission of disease. Here, we offer some tips on how you can help conserve wildlife through responsible ownership:

Spare The Leash, Spoil The Dog

Just like you, your dog needs exercise, but that doesn’t mean a free-for-all. It’s your responsibility to keep your dog under control, for his own safety as much as that of the local wildlife. For example, leaving your dog prancing in the wild can easily lead to contact with a diseased rodent.  The onus is on you to check what your dog does around him.  The foolproof solution is to keep your dog on a leash. Ensure the collar is not too tight around his neck – you should be able to slide two fingers comfortably under it – and consider a retractable or extended leash to allow your dog to roam comfortably when it is safe to do so.

Make Sure Your Dog is Well Trained

Even if you keep the dog on a leash, accidents happen and he might get loose. Under such circumstances, your dog should be responsive to auditory cues, either if you call or whistle, so that you can get your dog back under control safely and without incident. Some breeds of dog are easier to train than others – for example, Labradors are generally eager to please, while Huskies are famously strong willed and  while they understand the command, they tend to decide for themselves whether to obey. But any and every dog can be trained. If you have real difficulties making progress, seek help from a professional dog trainer.

Look For Alternatives

Even if your dog is not actively making a nuisance of itself and upsetting or chasing wildlife, its very presence or any excessive barking can disturb and scare other creatures. Ultimately, it makes sense whenever possible to look for alternative places where you can spend time together with your beloved pet, such as a public playing field or at the beach, where you will not be causing a disturbance to the wildlife.

A dog is a man’s best friend, and man should be nature’s steward. As soon as you step into a wildlife habitat, remember you’re stepping into their territory, not the other way around. You can still have fun with your beloved dog while respecting the ecological balance. Responsible dog ownership means taking into consideration how your beloved pet affects others.

Post contributed by Lucy Wyndham

Photo Credit: Maria Overlay

The Endangered Rusty Patched Bumblebee


Years ago, buzzing through Indiana ecosystems, the rusty patched bumblebee was once widespread. It pollinated flowers and occupied habitats across the Hoosier state and filled an essential biological niche. But, within the last twenty years, rusty patched bumblebee populations have declined 87%, reaching the point that the IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, has listed the species as critically endangered on their list of threatened species. This threatened bee species is essential to pollinator-plant ecosystems across Indiana’s grasslands and needs human intervention if its population is to rebound.

Threats via Habitat

With its natural range in the North East and Upper Midwest United States, the rusty patched bumble occupies grasslands and tail grass. But, due to habitat loss, most of these habitats have vanished in its natural range. This habitat loss contributes to the species decline, along with intensive farming, disease, pesticide use, and climate change. Prairies and grasslands have been converted to farms or developed areas such as cities, which shrinks the bee’s viable range and pushes the species towards extinction. In addition to habitat loss, pathogen spill-over from commercial bees and the use of pesticides threaten the species. The rusty patched bumblebee can absorb pesticide toxins in their habitats directly through their exoskeleton. The bee’s habitats are being made unlivable not only due to these toxins, but also due to climate change.

Threats via Climate Change

Climate change related factors such as extreme temperature increases, droughts, and late frost events drastically alter ecosystems, leading to more susceptibility to disease, fewer flowering plants, and asynchronicity between when plants flower and when the bees emergence. The major threats to the success and recovery of the species are numerous. Declining and isolated subpopulations of the bee that stem from factors like habitat loss and climate change lead to reduced genetic diversity. Agriculture encroaches onto the bee’s natural habitat and the Nosema bombi (https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/346838parasite potentially has caused a sudden decrease in the bee’s population. While the rusty patched bumblebee plays a fundamental role in a healthy ecosystem, it also is vital as a pollinator for commercial products.

Bumblebees as Pollinators

Bumblebees are incredibly important pollinators of agricultural products. This includes crops such as blueberries, cranberries, and clove. And, bumblebees are almost the only insect pollinators of tomatoes. Economically, it has been estimated that native insect pollinators, mostly bees, account for 3 billion dollars of value annually in the United States. Vital to the environment and to important crops, two questions prevail.


What is being done to help the rusty patched bumblebee?

The rusty patched bumblebee is the first bumblebee species to be listed as endangered in the United States. According to Rebecca Riley, an attorney with the DNR, Department of Natural Resources, council, “Federal protections may be the only thing standing between the bumblebee and extinction.” Although, in addition to these protections that are unequivocally helping the species, there are several service programs aiming to assess, protect, and restore pollinators such as bumblebees.

What can you do to help the rusty patched bumblebee?

Above all, the most beneficial action for the rusty patched bumblebee that you can take is to grow native pollinator plants, such as milkweed, in your garden. National Geographic recommends bordering your fruits and vegetables with native flowers. In addition to this, avoid pesticides or other potentially harmful chemicals.

Wrap Up

Climate change and habitat loss challenge the rusty patched bumblebee’s population and recovery. The bee acts as an important pollinator for both commercial crops and wild, naturally occurring plants. Much can be done to counteract the bee’s decline, so join together and support this declining species. Grow native plants, avoid chemicals and support local conservation efforts—consider joining IWF today to support our ongoing pollinator conservation efforts. (https://www.indianawildlife.org/join/)

Snowy Owls

Indianapolis, IN. — Keep an eye to the sky this holiday season and you’ll likely see more than just snowflakes. Packs of rare snowy owls are expected to flock throughout the Midwest.

The snowy owls (bubo scandiacus) will be far from their Arctic home, according to wildlife officials. The famous snowy raptors are native to colder parts of North America and Eurasia, but migrate south from northern Canada every couple of years during a process called irruption.

Owls cycle through irruption – dramatic, irregular migration of large numbers of birds to areas they aren’t typically found – every four to five years. The last time it happened was in the winter of 2013-2014, when thousands of owls wandered down and settled throughout the U.S. East Coast and Great Lakes.

This is far from the first time snowy owls caught national attention. The birds caused quite a hoot when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone first hit theaters back in 2001. As the franchise grew, so too did public interest in these fantastic beasts.

The birds will face some challenges. Developed landscapes and telephone wires pose particular hazards, as do airport runways. Despite their magnificent look, scientists and researchers advise keeping a minimum of 100 yards away from the owls for their own safety.

-Madison Stacey

New plan aims to reverse monarch butterfly decline

May 11, 2018. For immediate release.

The Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA) welcomes public comments through May 31 on a draft conservation plan that provides a blueprint for reversing the decline of the eastern monarch butterfly population.

The draft plan, called the Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy, builds on existing efforts of state, federal, and local agencies and private organizations and individuals. It covers a 16-state region stretching from Texas to the Upper Midwest that encompasses the primary production and migratory habitat areas for eastern monarchs (see map). Other eastern monarch states are also collaborating with the plan.

The draft plan identifies conservation goals and strategies for improving habitats in various sectors or categories of land use such as natural areas, agricultural lands, urban lands, and rights of way. State wildlife agencies and partners will be working to add milkweed plants where lacking and to ensure diverse, nectar-plant-rich landscapes with blooming species during seasons when monarchs are present.

“In addition to their beauty, pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and other species provide important pollination services critical to our food supplies and economies,” said Terry Steinwand, MAFWA President. “This is the first phase of a long-term strategy that will require increased commitment of people and resources to support enhanced monarch and pollinator conservation and monitoring efforts by many partners over the next 20 years.”

Eastern monarchs, those found east of the Rocky Mountains, have declined by more than 80 percent over the past 20 years primarily due to habitat loss, including reduced milkweed required for reproduction and fewer nectar plants. In 2014 the monarch was petitioned for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act, and a decision on whether listing is warranted is expected in 2019.

Monarchs produce multiple generations each year and undertake a lengthy fall migration from the U.S. and southern Canada to the forested mountains of central Mexico where they overwinter. The goal of the strategy is to coordinate state and partner efforts to restore and enhance habitat to support an average overwintering population in Mexico occupying about 15 acres (6 hectares), consistent with international goals.

The plan primarily focuses on voluntary and incentive-based habitat restoration and enhancement efforts, but also includes priority education and outreach, research, and monitoring needs related to monarch conservation.

For more information, a copy of the draft strategy, and how to submit comments, please visit the MAFWA website at Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy.