[az-leader] AUDUBON ADVISORY, 2/22/02

  • From: Janice Miano <jmiano@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: az-leader@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 10:16:21 -0700

Audubon's Twice-Monthly Update From Washington, D.C.
February 22, 2002
(Vol. 2002, Issue 4)

Senate Passes Farm Bill Without Migratory Bird Killing 

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. 

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
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
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:

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: 

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:

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!

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

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:   

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: 

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.

Public Policy Division, Grassroots Outreach Department
Questions? Comments?  Subscribe or unsubscribe?  Click here: 
Phone: (202) 861-2242

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  • » [az-leader] AUDUBON ADVISORY, 2/22/02