Weekly News Roundup – November 4, 2011

I was out last Friday hiking with my coworkers, so this week we have a double edition of the National Wildlife Federation news roundup:

Healthy Kids Outdoors Act Supports Strategies to Connect Kids with Nature

November 3 – Rep. Ron Kind (WI) and Sen. Mark Udall (CO) introduced House and Senate versions of the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act today to support state, local and federal strategies to connect youth and families with the natural world, with an eye toward improving children’s health and supporting future economic growth and conservation efforts.

“The nature of childhood has changed, and there isn’t much nature in it,” said Larry Schweiger, National Wildlife Federation’s president and CEO. “National Wildlife Federation commends Congressman Ron Kind and Senator Mark Udall for introducing legislation that will strengthen the economy by getting Americans moving through recreation and active outdoor play.”

Bill Undermines Invasive Species Protections for Great Lakes

November 3 – On the eve of a potential vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, the National Wildlife Federation is opposing provisions in a federal bill that would be a devastating setback in the effort to stop aquatic invasive species from entering the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters through the ballast discharge of foreign ships.

“This bill is bad for the Great Lakes,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office. “It leaves the door open for invasive species to enter the lakes through the discharge of ships’ ballast water.

Restoring Oyster Reefs Benefits People, Economies, Ecosystems and Oysters

November 3 – If all the oyster reefs are gone, where are all of those oysters-on-the-half-shell coming from?

An estimated 95 percent of oysters served for slurping come from oyster farms. Wild oysters have been fished out, developed out and smothered by river sediment. The nearly 5 million barrels of oil BP let loose in the Gulf of Mexico didn’t help either. But BP, or more accurately, BP’s money can help restore wild oyster reefs (and a whole lot more). The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have introduced separate bills that would direct at least 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties levied on BP to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas to invest in the long term health of the environment and local economies.

Of course, “investing in local economies” covers a lot of ground, not necessarily in, on or adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico.

Louisiana Coastal Restoration Grants Welcome News, But Only a Short-Term Solution

November 3 – In late September, the Secretary of Commerce announced $102 million in grants for three projects to restore deteriorated wetlands and barrier island habitats in Louisiana. The restoration efforts involve pumping sediment to barrier island shores, rebuilding marshes and reinforcing shorelines in areas where precious land is eroding at a rapid pace.

While it’s a step in the right direction and welcome news to many, coastal advocates say it’s a temporary solution to a long-term problem. Such restoration projects can only be sustained by the permanent and natural land-replenishing impacts of freshwater diversions from the Mississippi River.

National Wildlife Federation, Partners Hold Symposium on Gulf Oil Disaster

November 2 -The National Wildlife Federation is sponsoring the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Symposium with the National Aquarium Conservation Center, Mote Marine Laboratory and Johns Hopkins University November 2-4 at the National Aquarium.

NRDA for the Gulf: Improving Our Ability to Quantify Chronic Damages will allow symposium participants to discuss long-term effects and solutions resulting from the Gulf oil disaster. Since the disaster, scientists/ researchers have been studying the impacts on natural resources in the Gulf and working together to find immediate and long-term solutions.

Lawmakers Starve Conservation Programs That Benefit Farmers and Wildlife

November 1 – The Senate voted to slash more than $700 million dollars from conservation programs that help farmers, ranchers and foresters, as well as soil, water and wildlife. These steep cuts in the 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill target crucial and effective programs that are already oversubscribed with a long waiting list of farmers wanting to implement conservation practices.

You reap what you sow, and the agriculture funding bill will be a bitter harvest for farmers, ranchers and wildlife,” said Aviva Glaser, agriculture policy coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation.

2012 Duck Stamp Announcement Highlights Value of Wetland Conservation

October 30 – The selection of the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp art contest winner – whose work will appear on stamps purchased by every duck hunter in America – puts a spotlight on the nation’s troubled wetland ecosystems. The National Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and Trout Unlimited support restoring Clean Water Act protections for wetlands and other waters that are critical to fish and wildlife populations and our outdoor traditions.

New Report: Congressional Panel Can Cut Deficit, Protect Wildlife

October 27 – The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction can protect America’s wildlife, public health and economy by ensuring a deficit deal protects critical conservation programs that have already been disproportionately slashed, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation. Conservation Works: How Congress Can Lower the Deficit and Protect Wildlife & Public Health also identifies more than $100 billion in savings that could be realized by cutting wasteful tax giveaways for oil, coal and ethanol.

Investments in conservation programs are a great bargain, accounting for just one percent of federal spending but delivering huge benefits to all Americans, protecting wildlife, investing in clean energy jobs, and reducing pollution that harms our children,” said Jeremy Symons, senior vice president of the National Wildlife Federation.

And here are highlights from NWF in the News:

For more, visit www.nwf.org/News