Save Our ______

As Congress and the White House continue the process of crafting the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, funding for environmental and other federal programs essential to protecting wildlife, maintaining our clean air and water, and preserving public lands is in jeopardy of being dramatically underfunded or even discontinued.

President Trump’s FY 2018 Budget illustrates the severity of the situation. It calls for a 12% cut to the budget for the Department of the Interior and an absurd 31% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, along with cuts to the Department of Agriculture and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

To elevate these concerns and to push back against these budget cuts, the National Wildlife Federation led a series of events, discussions and rallies. Each sought to amplify the voices of Americans to prevent the upcoming year’s federal budget from undermining crucial programs that protect and restore wildlife habitat, ensure access to public lands, promote outdoor recreation, and safeguard clean air and clean water.

#SaveOurBlank

Communities across the country rallied to demonstrate how federal funding is essential to their region and community and illustrate that the proposed budget cuts threaten countless shared places and values. Tying each issue together, participants used the hashtag #SaveOurBlank across social media platforms to make the point that you can “Fill in the blank” with all of the potential cuts to the environment and public health.

Community members educated their friends and neighbors on the crucial need for a budget which respects every American’s right to access clean water and breathe clean air, enjoy public lands and preserve our wildlife for future generations. The events succeeded in embracing and celebrating the treasures in each region. Three themes in particular set the scope of the events: #SaveOurWildlife, #SaveOurPublicLands and #SaveOurWater.

#SaveOurWildlife

Our Virginia affiliate, the Virginia Conservation Network (VCN), brought the value of America’s wildlife to the front of the conversation. VCN, focusing on their local waters and native fish species which could be at particular risk from budget cuts, along with threats to public lands and the effects of climate change, gathered their community for a #SaveOurBrookTrout Happy Hour at a local brewery.

The South Carolina Wildlife Federation is planning an upcoming #SaveOurWildlife event highlighting America’s wildlife crisis. SCWF, partnering with American Rivers and the Waccamaw Wildlife Refuge, will hold a morning of paddling as a part of the grand opening of a newly expanded recreation area at the refuge. The event, originally planned for September, was postponed as the Wildlife Refuge and the broader community prepared for the impending threat of devastating hurricanes hitting the southeast United States. The storms’ impacts to coastal states have been exacerbated by the effects of climate change, and irresponsible development has put homes, communities, wildlife and their habitats in greater danger. For more information about this event and how to participate, reach out to Amy Hedges (HedgesA@nwf.org).

#SaveOurPublicLands

From the Rockies to the Appalachians, activists gathered to protect public spaces dear to their communities. In Colorado, we and our partners focused on threats to National Forests. Using the hashtag #SaveOurNationalForests, they addressed the effects climate change, regulatory rollbacks including the Bureau of Land Management methane rule, and budget cuts. Our West Virginia affiliate, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, organized a #SaveOurPublicLands event hosted by an outdoor recreation shop to celebrate their community’s public lands, the value of the outdoor recreation industry, and to enjoy live music and eat barbecue.

Attendees of the #SaveOurPublicLands event in West Virginia – Photo: West Virginia Rivers Coalition

#SaveOurWater

Many saw access to clean water as their most threatened natural treasure. The protection of the Clean Water Rule – facing threat of repeal by the current administration – and budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency were central to the events focused on water.

In particular, the Great Lakes were a point of emphasis, with both an Ohio and a Pennsylvania event being held to #SaveOurLakeErie. The lake has been inundated by harmful algal blooms of cyanobacteria, better known as blue-green algae, which produce toxins that threaten human health, result in massive fish die-offs, and kill pets and livestock.

Toxic cyanobacteria, or “Blue-green algae,” seen on the NWF boat tour of the Lake Erie algal bloom

Our Great Lakes Regional Office held a #SaveOurLakeErie event in Ohio focused on the effects of federal budget cuts on the lake, the Corn Ethanol Mandate Reform campaign, and other regional issues related to the Great Lakes. The day included a presentation from an EPA scientist, a boat tour to observe the fluorescent green toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, a farm visit to view demonstrations on sustainable farming practices, and stops at two locations of on-shore conservation efforts to reduce or remediate nutrient pollution.

A few miles down the coast at the Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA, our Pennsylvania affiliate PennFuture also held a #SaveOurLakeErie event, joined by concerned activists, fishers and scientists. Organizers and presenters discussed how cuts to the federal budget negatively affect Lake Erie, and how this relates to the Corn Ethanol Mandate Reform and Public Lands campaigns.

In Bonner, Montana, Montana Wildlife Federation held a #SaveOurCleanWater Clean Water Rally and Barbecue at a park and fishing site. Indiana Wildlife Federation similarly held two events for the campaign, a monarch butterfly tagging event and a push to #SaveOurWaterways at a community Creekfest celebration.

Locals in Bonner, Montana join the Montana Wildlife Federation #SaveOurCleanWater event – Photo: Montana Wildlife Federation

In Flint, Michigan, continuing our work with the community throughout their water crisis, we convened a #SaveOurDrinkingWater Public Health Communications Strategy Forum with city officials and groups including Freshwater Future and NAACP-Flint to begin plans to better inform residents of Flint on public health issues. The #SaveOurDrinkingWater campaign will continue in Flint into October through the development of this strategy. With budget cuts like those proposed by Congress, Flint – like countless other cities across the country – will continue to lose out and potentially face irreversible consequences.

A Message for the White House and Congress

The proposed budget would cut or eliminate funding for programs that invest in renewable energy, such as wind and solar which employ 360,000 people in the United States. It would also expand fossil fuel extraction in public lands such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. From the Great Lakes, where toxic algal blooms threaten drinking water, and National Parks struggling to provide maintenance to adequately support demand for access, communities across the country – many which already don’t receive enough funding – would be harmed by these massive budget cuts.

Americans spoke out loudly this summer to show Congress and the White House what their disastrous budget would mean to the lives of citizens around the United States, through our safe drinking water, cherished national parks and monuments, and wildlife and their habitats. Now you can speak out too!

  1. Join the conversation by tweeting using the #SaveOurBlank and sharing what special places or resources you want to see protected in this year’s budget.
  2. Send a message to congress by taking this action!

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