National Audubon Grassroots Coordinator Alix Davidson informs us that ten Audubon-supported measures were signed into law, and some Audubon-opposed ones failed to move through the legislative process. What a way to end the millenium! There were a few important measures that we supported that did get stuck, but those will be our projects for 2001. Following is a sampling of some notable actions - and some inactions:
SUPPORTED MEASURES PASSED:
EVERGLADES RESTORATION. Authorizes and secures $7.8 billion over 30 years for nearly 60 projects that will restore, preserve and protect the Everglades, as well as provide other water-related needs for the South Florida region. The project will return the natural flow of water to the "River of Grass" and improve habitat for birds, other wildlife and plants native to the Everglades.
NEO-TROPICAL MIGRATORY BIRD PROTECTION. The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act establishes a fund to support partnership programs that will conserve and enhance habitat. At least 75% of the money will go to projects in the Caribbean and Latin America, where the birds spend their winters. We will need to work to see that this legislation is fully funded for 2001 and beyond.
CONSERVATION FUNDING. Though not as strong as the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) that most conservationists supported, the smaller measure that passed increases funding up to $12 billion over the next six years for local, state and national conservation efforts.
MOST OF AUDUBON'S LAND AND WATER CONSER-VATION PRIORITIES. $30.1 million under the Interior Appropriations Bill.
ACRES FOR WETLANDS. 100,000 additional acres were secured in the Wetland Reserve Program under the Agriculture Appropriations Bill.
BAN ON SHARK FINNING. Bans the practice of cutting off a shark's fins and discarding the remains into the sea in all U.S. waters and seeks to address the issue internationally.
OPPOSED MEASURES SIDETRACKED:
HUNTING SEASON ON DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS. Action not taken before Congress adjourned. The bill would have authorized states to establish hunting seasons for double-crested cormorants spurred by sport-fishing and catfish farming concerns. Congress did appropriate money to allow the USDA's Wildlife Services agency to develop ways to control cormorant populations in catfish farming areas in the South. This issue will be ongoing.
EXPANSION OF HUNTING ON PUBLIC LANDS. Congress ran out of time before adjournment. The bill would have compromised wildlife-oriented recreation other than hunting, and would have jeopardized birds and other wildlife by undercutting sound wildlife management practices. The bill likely will come up again during the current Congress.
BILL TO CURTAIL AUTHORITY OF NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE. On hold, but very likely to come up again in the 107th Congress.
On the downside, Congress failed to take final action on the Fisheries Recovery Act. Nearly half of all fish stocks in U.S. waters are overfished. The Act would have stopped overfishing and helped rebuild fish populations and protect essential fish habitats. It also would have made the avoidance of bycatch a top priority in fishery management and called for precautionary management of the nation's living marine resources. Audubon will renew the effort in the 107th Congress.
OTHER GOOD NEWS:
HERITAGE FORESTS CAMPAIGN SUCCESS. Over 2 million public comments were received and, in November, the Forest Service released its final proposal calling for the protection of the roadless areas within our national forests - one of the largest and most important land conservation efforts of the last 100 years. On January 5th, in one of our most eagerly-awaited actions, President Clinton declared nearly 60 million acres of pristine federal lands off limits to road building and most logging. (More on this on here.)
HORSESHOE CRAB SANCTUARY ESTABLISHED. The U.S. government established a preserve in federal waters adjacent to Delaware Bay to protect horseshoe crabs in the mid-Atlantic region. In addition, faced with complete shutdown of their horseshoe crab and conch fisheries by the federal government, Virginia enacted the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission landing limits that they had refused to do until the threat of Coast Guard cutters at Virginia docks loomed imminent.
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