Brown County State Park, July 14, 2021. Photo by Abbie Gressley, IWF 2021 Summer Intern

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 82 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.

Emily Wood and Aaron Stump pose after a long, wet day planting trees  and native woodland perennials at Oliver’s Woods Nature Preserve. Indianapolis, June 2, 2021. Photo by Abbie Gressley, IWF Summer Intern

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 number of Hoosiers that value Indiana wildlife.

We invite you to join as a member or explore our website to find out more about upcoming events, campaigns, workshops, lecture series or projects that you can get involved with. Like us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay connected!

DC Legislative Update April 19-23, 2021

 

NWF Legislative Update April 19-23, 2021

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

Congressional Hearings 

  • House Appropriations Committee
    • Tuesday, April 20 at 10am EST: Subcommittee on Interior, Environment hearing on the “Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the Department of the Interior.”
  • Tuesday, April 20 at 10am EST: Subcommittee on Labor, Human Health, Education hearing on “Building Capacity, Building Community: Increasing Investments in Community Colleges.”
  • Wednesday, April 21 at 10am EST: Subcommittee on Interior, Environment hearing on the “Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the Environmental Protection Agency.”
  • Wednesday, April 21 at 2pm EST: Subcommittee on Transportation, House and Urban Development hearing on “Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the Department of Housing and Urban ”
  • House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis
    • Tuesday, April 20 at 12pm EST: Hearing on “Making the Case for Climate Action: Creating New Jobs and Catalyzing Economic Growth.”
  • House Natural Resources Committee
    • Tuesday, April 20 at 2:30pm EST: Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hearing, “Building Back Better: Reducing Pollution and Creating Jobs Through Offshore Wind.”
  • Senate Appropriations Committee
    • Tuesday, April 20 at 10:30am EST: “Hearings to examine the American Jobs Plan, focusing on infrastructure, climate change, and investing in our nation’s ”
  • House Appropriations Committee
    • Tuesday, April 20 at 10:30am EST: Hearing on “The American Jobs Plan: Infrastructure, Climate Change, and Investing in Our Nation’s ”
      • Witnesses include Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation, Regan, Administrator of the EPA, Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce, and Fudge, Secretary of HUD
    • Wednesday, April 21 at 2pm EST: Subcommittee hearing on “Fiscal Year 2022 Budget ”
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee
    • Tuesday, April 20 at 2pm EST: Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment and Cyber hearing on “Restoration of the Transatlantic Dialogue: The Global Fight Against Climate Change.”
  • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
    • Wednesday, April 21 at 10am EST: Hearing to “consider the presidential nominations of Bill Nelson to be National Aeronautics and Space Administration Administrator and Lina Khan to be a Commissioner of the Federal Trade ”
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
    • Wednesday, April 21 at 11am EST: Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment hearing on “Sustainable Wastewater Infrastructure: Measures to Promote Resiliency and Climate Adaptation and ”
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
    • Wednesday, April 21: Meeting to consider the nominations of Julie Su for Deputy Secretary of Labor, Cynthia Marten for Deputy Secretary of Education and James Kvaal for Undersecretary of
  • Senate Agriculture Committee

Congressional News 

  • On April 14, the Senate, in a bipartisan vote of 53-45, confirmed Brenda Mallory to serve as Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. Mallory’s confirmation will ensure CEQ prioritizes environmental justice, climate, and policies that support people and wildlife. See NWF’s press release here.
  • Last week, Senators Luján (D-N.M.) and Cramer (R-N.D.) introduced the Revive Economic Growth and Reclaim Orphaned Wells (REGROW) Act of 2021. The bill focuses on clean-up of orphaned oil and gas wells and is a focus of NWF’s Public Land’s fly-in. See NWF’s press release here.

Administrative News  

  • On April 15, NWF and 15,000 members submitted public comments to the Department of Interior in response to their request for information on needs to reform the US oil and gas leasing system. See NWF’s press release here for more on the submission.
  • On April 16, Secretary Haaland issued secretarial orders to ensure widespread, improved management of public lands with a focus on climate Read NWF’s press release here.
  • The Administration released initial information about the President’s fiscal year 2022 discretionary budget request with specific provisions to highlight the all-of-government approach to climate change and related issues. The full budget request is expected later this spring. See the White House’s notice 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? 

  • On Monday, President Biden is expected to meet with a bipartisan and bicameral group of Senators and Representatives, all former Governors and Mayors, to discuss the American Jobs Plan. NWF is working with Members and their staff to conduct virtual meetings, emphasizing recommendations from our Restoration and Resilience report – located here and in our press release here,
  • This week, the Senate is expected to consider and vote on the nomination of Lisa Monaco for Deputy Attorney General and the nomination of Gary Gensler to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • The Senate is expected to vote this week on The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted unanimously last week to report the bill out of committee, see here for their press release.
  • Last Monday, the National Wildlife Federation, Atlantic Council Global Energy Center, and Reimagine Appalachia hosted a successful congressional briefing to discuss the role of climate infrastructure investments in Appalachia. Watch the briefing here.
  • NWF’s Public Lands team is continuing their virtual fly-in, hosting staff and affiliates in meetings with Members and their staff to discuss legislative and restoration and resilience priorities as part of upcoming legislation and larger infrastructure packages.

National Wildlife Federation Logo

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

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.

***

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:

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.

Signed,
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)
Earthjustice
ECOAN
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
NYC H20
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

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.

 

Senate:

  •  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

 

House:

  • 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.

 

Senate:

  • 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

 

House:

  • 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

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.

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.