Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sportsmen and Women Thank Senators Bingaman, Baucus and Whitehouse for Introducing Legislation to Safeguard Fish and Wildlife from Climate Change

Natural Resources Adaptation bill helps ensure the long-term survival of fish and wildlife while providing Americans with a healthier environment and jobs

Fish and wildlife conservationists today lauded Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and his co-sponsors Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for introducing the “Natural Resources Climate Adaptation Act” (S.1933). The bill would provide for dedicated funding to federal and state natural resource agencies to plan and implement science-informed, on-the-ground projects to help fish and wildlife adapt and respond to the impacts of climate change and to foster resilient habitats.

“We applaud and appreciate the leadership of Senators Bingaman, Baucus and Whitehouse in crafting a bill that addresses the unprecedented effects climate change will have on natural systems and for recognizing the important role state and federal natural resource agencies play in ensuring that these systems continue to function,” said Matt Hogan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “Functioning ecosystems are not only vital to the health of fish and wildlife resources, they are critical to the quality of life for Americans because they provide cleaner air and water, flood attenuation, carbon sequestration and recreation.”

“Fish and wildlife populations should be considered a barometer of a healthy human environment. Our strategy for successfully adapting to climate change must include sustaining the natural diversity, distribution and abundance of fish and wildlife populations,” said George Cooper, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This bill goes a long way toward including the resources necessary to protect and restore habitat affected by climate change to assure American sportsmen and women that hunting and fishing will remain sustainable for this and future generations.”

A century of fish and wildlife conservation work is in danger from a changing climate. For more than 100 years, federal and state natural resources agencies—funded to a great extent by hunters and anglers—have invested billions of dollars in land and water conservation. However, climate change is jeopardizing this investment by escalating and accelerating threats such as the spread of invasive species and catastrophic fires, which put many fish and wildlife species at risk.

“For decades, federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, together with hunters and anglers, have invested the financial resources to develop the most successful fish and wildlife conservation programs in the world,” said Steve Williams, President of the Wildlife Management, Inc. “This bill promises to provide the additional funding necessary to adapt to climate change impacts, secure our past investments, and assure that future generations will continue to enjoy and enhance our nation’s fish and wildlife resources.”

Funding for adaptation programs would provide important new resources to agencies in partnership with the private conservation community to undertake the conservation work necessary to help fish and wildlife survive.

“As I head into the field this fall, I'm reminded of why we have the opportunities we have today,” said Land Tawney, National Wildlife Federation Senior Manager for Sportsmen Leadership. “For generations, sportsmen and women have been at the vanguard of this nation's conservation victories. Senators Baucus, Bingaman and Whitehouse deserve credit for taking the next step to ensure future generations have bountiful fish and wildlife populations and healthy natural resources to enjoy.”

In addition, the economic contributions accrued from hunters and anglers and the goods and services they purchase support millions of jobs and generate $76 billion in financial benefit annually. Conserving natural resources helps ensure the survival of countless businesses and communities nationwide.

“Paired with strong efforts to reduce carbon emissions and stop the worst impacts of climate change in the long run, this bill will provide the investments in our nation's natural resources necessary to sustain fish and wildlife populations in the coming decades,” said Steve Moyer, Vice President for Government Affairs at Trout Unlimited. “Hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone who cares about and depends on our natural resources will benefit from this bill.”

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Laura MacLean, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, (202) 624-7744