Wildlife Is the Soul of Our Country
Americans love wildlife and we want to make sure that our grandchildren and the generations to come can enjoy it, too. Not only is it part of our treasured natural heritage, wildlife also brings jobs to local communities and provide recreational opportunities for us all.
Protecting our nation’s wildlife conservation programs — including the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, National Wildlife Refuge System, Migratory Bird program, National Forests, Endangered Species Act — is an important way to ensure that future generations can enjoy the wealth of wildlife.
Wildlife Funding Fly-In
But over the past year, wildlife conservation programs have been on the chopping block. Recognizing the immediate and critical need to demonstrate to Congress the importance of funding for conservation programs, National Wildlife Federation along with other environmental groups held a fly-in on November 1 – 3.
Sixteen local leaders and experts from around the country gathered in Washington DC to advocate for the protection of wildlife conservation programs, driving home the message that funding cuts are shortsighted and will lead to more extinctions of wildlife and job loss.
It was inspirational to observe these participants drop their work schedules and other commitments in the blink of an eye and rush to chaotic DC. It took me some time to understand their quick response and then it came to me – they truly care about wildlife.
When asked what were his reasons for attending this fly-in, George LaPointe, an active member of the Natural Resources Council of Maine Board of Directors passionately replied that it is because “wildlife is the soul of our people and our country and … it is equally important as education and human services and should be seen as such.”
My Story – Advocating on the Hill
Having worked on conservation and restoration projects while living in Boise, Idaho, I too had reason to speak with members of Congress to help increase the visibility of these programs. In speaking with Senator Crapo of Idaho about a post-fire rehabilitation project I worked on last year (reseeding the territory with native plants to increase food availability to wildlife), I was pleasantly surprised to hear he was familiar with the project and was passionate about the importance of funding for conservation programs .
While the bald eagle has been taken off the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, it is still possible without funding or with cuts to conservation programs under the Fish & Wildlife Service that the iconic American national bird could once again face endangerment or worse yet, become extinct.
Help prevent having to tell our grandchildren stories that begin with – “There once lived a beautiful bird species known as the bald eagle, which was often used as a symbol for our nation. Sadly, the species no longer exists.”
While there still remains more to do, we have not lost this battle. It is evident from this successful event that we have taken great strides in raising the profile of wildlife funding programs.
I urge you to tell your personal wildlife story to a friend, an elected official or anyone that will listen and help them understand why it’s important to conserve vital conservation programs, and as a result, protect our nation’s wildlife. An ounce pound of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take action today!