AUDUBON ADVISORY Audubon's Twice-Monthly Update From Washington, D.C. February 22, 2002 (Vol. 2002, Issue 4) GOOD NEWS!! Senate Passes Farm Bill Without Migratory Bird Killing Amendment! On February 13th, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the farm bill - sweeping legislation that affects over 1 billion acres of land - more than half of the contiguous United States. Last week, Senator Hutchinson (R-AR) planned to offer an amendment to exempt the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) from all Migratory Bird Treaty Act laws and all National Environmental Policy Act laws. APHIS, formerly known as Animal Damage Control, harasses and kills birds and wildlife that are considered by some to be pests. THANKS TO AUDUBON ADVOCATES AND LOBBYING STAFF, THE SENATE CHOSE NOT TO BRING UP THE AMENDMENT, THUS IT IS NOT A PART OF THE FARM BILL. This is our first victory of the year! Included in the Senate-passed farm bill are significant increases in funding for various conservation programs. This gives us a chance to protect birds, wildlife and their habitat on private lands. These programs include the Wetlands Reserve Program, cconservation Reserve Program, the Farmland Protection Program (FPP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), and the newly proposed Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP). The GRP will protect vanishing habitat for grassland songbirds and other wildlife; the Senate bill has also expanded protection from one million to two million acres. The GRP has been a high priority for Audubon as this program will preserve or restore habitat for several species of migratory birds and grassland songbirds including the bobolink, lark bunting, and grasshopper sparrow that have seen steep population declines due to loss of habitat. As the Senate-passed version differs from the version passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last year, select members from each chamber will meet in conference committee to hammer out the differences between the two bills. As the House-version does not include sufficient increases in funding for conservation programs and has problematic language limiting the effectiveness of other programs. The House-passed version of the Grasslands program has an extremely low cap of $124 per acre that will severely limit the use of this program for lands under any significant development threat, and only one third of the acreage in the House passed bill would be subject to permanent or long-term easement; the remaining two thirds of the program would only temporarily delay the conversion of grasslands to agriculture or development. The Senate version of the grasslands program has no cap on the amount of funding farmers can receive, and would make permanent or long term easements for 100% of lands in the program. The Senate version of the Wetlands Reserve Program has 250,000 acres of new enrollments per year - 100,000 more acres than the House version. The House-passed language is discretionary; meaning the Agriculture Secretary could opt to enroll significantly less than the 250,000 acres due, whereas the Senate version is mandatory. For WHIP and FPP, the Senate also has significantly higher funding levels ? over $1 billion for the next five years ?than the House version. Audubon will be working to convince both House & Senate conferees to accept the Senate-passed version of the conservation title. You can help ensure they do! Please call your lawmakers and urge them and their colleagues on the Conference Committee to support the Senate-passed levels of conservation funding and the Senate-passed language for the Grasslands Reserve Program and Wetlands Reserve Program in conference! If your lawmaker is on the list of potential Agriculture committee conferees below, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you contact them and ask them to support the Senate-passed conservation title. House Republicans Combest 19th ? TX (Conference Chair) Boehner 8th ? OH Goodlatte 6th ? VA Pombo 11th ? CA Everett 2nd ?AL Lucas 6th ? OK Chambliss 8th ? GA Moran - 1st - KS House Democrats Stenholm 17th ?TX Condit 18th ? CA Peterson 7th ? MN Dooley 20th ? CA Clayton 1st ? NC Holden 6th ? PA Thompson 2nd - MS Senate Democrats Harkin ? IA Leahy ? VT Conrad ? ND Daschle ? SD Senate Republicans Lugar ? IN Helms ? NC Cochran ? MS Arctic Vote Is Here! The U.S. Senate's action on the Arctic could happen as early as next week! It's likely the Senate will take up and vote on the energy bill in late February and early March. The debate will include a vote on whether to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. Audubon and our partners in conservation are working tirelessly to see that the Senate protects the pristine Arctic Refuge. WE NEED YOUR CONTINUED, UNRELENTING SUPPORT FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS, as the only way we can effectively compete with this pressure is with constituent support - that's you! The House has already passed this measure, and the President fully supports opening the Arctic to drilling. So the U.S. Senate is our last hope! As you know, a very small number of undecided Senators will determine the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by the vote they cast. One of these Senators may be from your state! So even if you have done so once, twice, or even three times - we're asking you to do so again: PLEASE CONTACT YOUR U.S. SENATORS AND URGE THEM TO OPPOSE ANY AND ALL EFFORTS TO OPEN THE ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE TO OIL AND GAS DRILLING! Listed below you'll find the latest list of Senators who have not yet fully committed to either drilling in the Arctic, or protecting this Refuge from the devastation of oil and gas drilling. If one of these lawmakers represents you, please call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask for your lawmaker by name, and urge your Senator(s) to oppose any and all efforts to open the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling. Please encourage your family and friends to call as well - the more constituent calls your Senator receives, the better chance there is your Senator will protect the Arctic Refuge! And even if our lawmaker is not on the list, it certainly doesn't hurt to call and urge them to do the same. To find out where your lawmakers stand, or for more on this issue, please go to the following web address, which will take you directly to our special Protect the Arctic site: http://www.capitolconnect.com/audubon/contact/default.asp?subject=23 And if we can ask you to do one more thing - after you make your call, please call or e-mail us to let us know what your lawmaker's office told you. You can reach us at 1-800-659-2622, or e-mail us at: audubonaction@xxxxxxxxxxx ARKANSAS - Senator Blanche Lincoln DELAWARE - Senator Tom Carper ILLINOIS - Senator Peter Fitzgerald INDIANA - Senator Richard Lugar INDIANA ? Senator Evan Bayh MAINE ? Senator Olympia Snowe NEW HAMPSHIRE ? Senator Bob Smith NORTH DAKOTA - Senator Kent Conrad OHIO - Senator Mike DeWine OREGON - Senator Gordon Smith PENNSYLVANIA - Senator Arlen Specter WEST VIRGINIA - Senators Robert Byrd A Quick Look At Other Issues BUDGET BAD FOR BIRDS: In the last issue of the Advisory, we reported that the budget proposed by the Bush Administration for Fiscal Year 2003 zeroes out all funding for the Neo-tropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act. However, we have just learned that the Administration has requested $1 million for a different account ? the Multinational Species Conservation Fund ? to undertake similar activities. This funding represents a 67% reduction from FY '02, and it is inadequate to meet the habitat needs for migratory birds. Audubon will push for full funding ? 5 million? for this program. The funds support partnership programs that conserve and enhance habitat of neo-tropical migratory birds in the United States and in the Caribbean and Latin America, where these birds spend their winters. Neo-tropical migratory bird populations have been dwindling due to the destruction of their wintering habitats. Stay tuned! MORE LETTERS ARE NEEDED TO SAVE RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS: Keep weighing in with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and help prevent the agency from initiating a program to kill by poison 2 million blackbirds a year for three years starting in 2002! The poisoning threatens to kill numerous other birds including the steeply declining populations of grassland songbirds. The Department is conducting the blackbird poisoning in an effort to reduce sunflower crop damage in the Northern plains. Click this link for more information and to take action: http://www.capitolconnect.com/audubon/contact/default.asp?Subject=41 STILL NO WORD YET ON FATE OF UNFPA: No news yet on whether the Bush Administration will zero out the U.S. contribution to the UNFPA ? the agency responsible for providing educational information, contraceptive devices and medical training for family planning programs. International family planning improves the ability of people to manage their lives and their natural resources in a more sustainable way, which in turn helps protect birds and their habitat. Click here to find out more and to take action today: http://www.capitolconnect.com/audubon/registration.asp?subject=37 SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD: Audubon continues its effort to ensure your seafood choices include swordfish, shrimp, scallops, and yellowfin tuna. But these and 102 other species of marine fish are overfished - being caught and killed faster than they can reproduce. The U.S. Congress has an opportunity to help restore and conserve overfished marine species by passing the Fisheries Recovery Act ? and you can help convince them to do so! For more information on this issue, or to find out how you can help, click this link: http://www.capitolconnect.com/audubon/contact/default.asp?subject=39 . HELP RESTORE THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI: As you know, a great river is in crisis. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for maintaining America's waterways? was forced to suspend its ten-year, $50 million study of Mississippi River construction projects due to serious flaws with the agency's economic and environmental analyses. In the new plan, the Corps has said it wants to involve other agencies, the states, and non profit organizations like Audubon in a "collaborative process" to develop a comprehensive management plan that includes flood control, navigation and ecosystem needs in a balanced approach. We must ensure the birds and wildlife that call the Upper Mississippi home are given equal consideration along with flood control and navigation! Click this link to learn more and take action today: http://www.capitolconnect.com/audubon/contact/default.asp?subject=42 Special Oceans Alert For Our Friends In California, Oregon, And Washington! Pacific sharks, tunas, and billfish need your help! More and more fishermen are hunting these charismatic fish, and rules and regulations are needed before it's too late! For tunas, billfish, and sharks, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, the body responsible for the conservation and management of fish stocks within U.S. Pacific waters off the West Coast, can do something to help now: they can adopt a fishery management plan that can safeguard these species. Currently, there is no management plan in place. Delays in adopting a similar comprehensive plan in the Atlantic allowed significant overfishing, unsustainable levels of catch that jeopardize the long-term survival of the species. And while the Pacific plan does contain certain essential elements to prevent overfishing, there is room for improvement. Specifically, here's what Audubon is encouraging the Council to do: ? Support the Council's desire to ban indiscriminate pelagic longline fishing hear from US Pacific waters. Pelagic longline gear is composed of hundreds of hooks suspended from a mainline that is up to 40 miles long. Half of the catch is routinely discarded into the sea and more than half of that is already dead! Longlines also take endangered seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals. Because of this, longlines are currently illegal off California and Washington. ? Encourage a limit on the number of fish taken from the sea. While much is still unknown about the health of giant Pacific fish, fishing pressure is steadily increasing. Given dramatic declines in giant fish populations in the Atlantic, we encourage the Council to adopt precautionary catch limits for all Plan species to avoid a similar overfishing problem in the Pacific. The Council has proposed to do this for two species (common thresher and shortfin mako sharks) and should be commended, but all species need protection. ? Increase levels of monitoring & observer coverage to properly assess catch and bycatch levels. The only way to know if the plan is working to protect marine life is through close monitoring of the fishery, particularly by placing observers on fishing vessels. The Council should adopt, at a minimum, a level of observer coverage that is statistically significant to ensure compliance with the regulations and to validate logbooks. ? Included more precautionary measures to reduce bycatch. Harmful bycatch of federally protected seabirds, sea turtles, marine mammals, as well as innocent fish can be reduced by modifying gear and closing areas to fishing. Federal law mandates that bycatch be minimized. Audubon is working hard to encourage the Council to adopt these measures ? and you can help! Helping is easy and won't take up your valuable time. Best of all, your participation can help protect the future of Pacific tunas, billfish, and sharks! Right now, the Pacific Fisheries Council is holding an open comment period to gauge public opinion on this critical conservation subject. The more comments the Council receives from people urging it to adopt additional conservation measures, the better chance there is it will do so! And sending in your comment is easy ? and free! Simply click onto this link: http://www.capitolconnect.com/audubon/contact/default.asp?subject=44 and send your comment in today! The Council is accepting comments until Tuesday, March 5, 2001 ? oso there's no time to waste! Point, click and send in your comment today! For more information on this subject or Audubon's Living Oceans program, please do not hesitate to contact a living Oceans representative at sbeemer@xxxxxxxxxxx or (631) 859-1588. THE AUDUBON ADVISORY NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY Public Policy Division, Grassroots Outreach Department Questions? Comments? Subscribe or unsubscribe? Click here: Audubonaction@xxxxxxxxxxx Phone: (202) 861-2242 ________________________________________________________________ GET INTERNET ACCESS FROM JUNO! Juno offers FREE or PREMIUM Internet access for less! Join Juno today! For your FREE software, visit: http://dl.www.juno.com/get/web/. You are subscribed to AZ-LEADER. To post to this mailing list, simply send email to az-leader@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx To unsubscribe, send email to az-leader-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field.