April 05, 2012
Conservation Update: Good news - NAWCA, Farm Bill, Wind Energy Guidelines. Bad news - BP Oil Still a Problem
By Bob Marshall
• Wetlands - especially those critical to waterfowl - got good news this week when a bi-partisan group of senators introduced a bill to reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. S. 2282 would continue the now 30-year effort to conserve the long-term effort to protect the nation's dwindling wetlands base.
Ducks Unlimited explains that the senate action mirrors a House bill introduced last month here.
• Sportsmen's groups have been pushing back against efforts to trim funding for NWACA and many other wetlands programs by congress as well as by the Obama Administration. Unfortunately, this still doesn't address the issue of the new wetlands definition and guidance that leaves as many as 20 million acres of isolated wetlands and stream sides open to development.
• Trout Unlimited is happy about a new coalition of conservation and agriculture groups that joined to push for passage of the Farm Bill and its many conservation programs. The newly formed Western Agricultural and Conservation Coalition is arguing for the measures, saying "they are critical to the health of Western economies and landscapes."
Conservation groups also cheered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the final version of its guidelines for wind energy development that aim to minimize impacts of wildlife habitat.
The National Wildlife Federation said the rules eased concern among wildlife advocates that the locations of farms and transmission lines could have unnecessary impacts on wildlife, especially birds.
Many of the guidelines reflect recommendations made by a Federal Advisory Committee composed of wildlife organizations, state and federal wildlife managers, wildlife scientists, and wind energy developers.
• Meanwhile, predictions that the oil BP poured onto the Louisiana coast would haunt the region for years continue to be borne out. Last week researchers reported finding plenty of oil just below the surface in critical marshlands--despite previous claims by BP and the U.S. Coast Guard that those same areas were oil-free.