WASHINGTON – Today, a collection of nearly 600 conservation, outdoor, sportsmen, recreation and faith groups representing tens of millions of individuals all across the country called on the Senate to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation that not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also dedicates a significant portion of funding towards helping wildlife and natural resources that are currently threatened by global warming.
“Community support for protecting our land, water and wildlife from a warming climate is wide and deep,” said David Moulton, director of climate policy for The Wilderness Society. “Our public health depends on the health of these ecosystems, and this outpouring of concern reflects that fact.”
All the groups agree that in order to realistically tackle the existing and forecasted impacts facing our treasured wild places and animals, the Senate will need to dedicate approximately five percent of the total allowances from a climate bill towards safeguarding our natural resources from the negative impacts of climate change.
“This funding would provide crucial support for job-creating conservation initiatives to protect the natural resources which are the backbone of public health and the American economy,” said Noah Matson, vice president for climate change with Defenders of Wildlife. “Without funding for efforts such as these, much of the natural resources all Americans depend on for water, food, medicine, flood protection and recreation will be seriously compromised in the near future.”
Healthy natural systems provide clean water, clean air and protect communities from catastrophic weather-related disasters, ranging from hurricanes to floods to forest fires. Outdoor recreation accounts for eight percent of all consumer spending, which drives an overall annual contribution of $730 billion to the economy and supports 6.5 million jobs.
"Communities throughout our nation depend on the clean air, clean water and healthy wildlife provided by America's national parks, forests and refuges," said Mark Wenzler, director of clean air and climate programs for the National Parks Conservation Association. "We must invest in safeguarding these lands from climate change if we want to keep our own communities healthy and prosperous for our children and grandchildren."
Local, state and federal agencies, tribes and fish, wildlife and land managers are critically short of funding needed to effectively respond to the combination of the challenges posed by a changing climate.
"Time is running out for many of America’s most treasured wildlife and landscapes," said Derek Brockbank, National Wildlife Federation conservation funding campaign manager. "New and dedicated resources are needed to safeguard wildlife and natural resources from climate change impacts today so future generations of Americans can enjoy a thriving natural heritage tomorrow."
Specifically, the groups have urged the Senate to develop climate legislation that will establish a national policy framework to begin addressing the impacts of climate change on our natural resources; provide increased scientific capacity, coordination and information sharing; and dedicate five percent of the total allowance value to federal, state and tribal agencies.
“Without such measures in place, we are failing not only ourselves, but also the future generations of Americans who deserve to enjoy the same opportunities and benefits provided by our natural resources that we take for granted, today,” said Tom Fry, senior policy advisor, The Nature Conservancy.