AmeriScan: May 2, 2001

FORMER FISH AND WILDLIFE HEAD JOINS NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION

RESTON, Virginia, May 2, 2001 (ENS) - Jamie Rappaport Clark, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Clinton administration, is moving into the top conservation post at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Clark will join the nation's largest conservation education and advocacy group later this month as senior vice president for conservation programs.

Clark will turn her attention to leading NWF and its grassroots partners towards working with the Bush administration to achieve tangible conservation progress.

Issues from conservation funding to wetlands protection and imperiled species restoration are identified by NEF as possibilities for developing common ground with the nation's new leaders, while working closely with state and regional authorities.

"Jamie will be a tremendous asset to our organization and our cause," said NWF president Mark Van Putten. "She knows conservation, she knows the obstacles and she knows how to surmount them that's a recipe for real success."

"I'm anxious to keep building on the progress we've made in improving the health of our environment, our wildlife and our wild places," said Clark, who headed the Fish and Wildlife Service from 1997 to 2001. "But it's going to take hard work and a commitment to building new alliances. I'm excited to be working with a group that believes as I do that conservation is not a partisan issue and that crafting win-win solutions is the key to success."

Clark says bipartisan support made possible some of the conservation successes achieved during her tenure with the service. She notes the recovery of the gray wolf, bald eagle and peregrine falcon; and the passage of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, which ensures that activities on refuges are consistent with sound wildlife conservation principles.

Prior to serving as director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1997 to 2001, Clark held posts as the agency's assistant director of ecological services, and as chief and senior staff biologist of the endangered species division. She held previous wildlife research and management positions with the Department of the Army and other defense agencies.

Founded in 1936 by editorial cartoonist J.N. "Ding" Darling, the National Wildlife Federation is now America's largest grassroots conservation organization, with over four million members and supporters and 46 state affiliate organizations.

At NWF, Clark will lead conservation advocacy programs originating from the organization's Virginia headquarters and 11 field offices, and executed in partnership with state affiliate organizations and grass roots volunteers nationwide.

Clark said, "I'm excited to be taking another position that can make a real difference in the health of our world."

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SENATE CONSIDERS BILL TO PRIVATIZE FISHING QUOTAS

WASHINGTON, DC, May 2, 2001 (ENS) - Three members of the Marine Fish Conservation Network testified today to urge Congress to protect both fish and fishermen in laws which would set national standards on Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) programs, which give certain fishermen an exclusive share of the catch.

The testimony was presented today at the first hearing on S.637, The IFQ Act of 2001, before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries. Presiding was Subcommittee Chair, Senator Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, who introduced the bill with Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican.

IFQ programs, such as those the IFQ Act would authorize, are controversial because they allow privatization of a public resource. They parcel out shares of a particular fishery, or exclusive privileges to fish there, to a limited number of individuals, including companies. Supporters promote IFQs as a way to address the growing number of overfished species by reducing the number of vessels fishing.

"The IFQ Act of 2001 is a good start," testified Lee Crockett, executive director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network. "The standards contained in this bill would go a long way toward protecting the public's interest, if an IFQ program were established in a fishery. However, if a national IFQ program is set up, then explicit legislative standards are necessary to protect the marine environment, fishermen and fishing communities."

The bill contains language requiring that IFQ programs promote "sustainable management of the fishery," without defining what that means. Crockett urged that the bill "be improved with language providing greater specificity and accountability."

Gerry Leape, marine program director of the National Environmental Trust, told the subcommittee, "Reducing the number of fishing vessels has not historically led to a reduction in fish caught since the remaining vessels simply increase their catches. Without national mandatory conservation standards requiring greater protection of fish and their habitats, IFQ programs are more likely to impede conservation efforts, rather than enhance them."

Fishermen in traditional, small scale fisheries fear IFQs would allow big companies to squeeze them out of their livelihood or take their boats and employ them as hired hands, which has happened where IFQ programs have been tried without the safeguards the Network is advocating.

Crockett said the bill should, "guard against overfishing, buffer against scientific uncertainty, reduce bycatch, and protect essential fish habitat and the ecosystem. Additionally, an independent review of the program is necessary to insure conservation is enhanced."

"While I do not favor IFQs in principle, Senator Snowe's bill presents a good compromise, because it seeks to address many of my concerns," said Pat White, executive director of the Maine Lobsterman's Association. "I support the bill as written, and would be open to changes that strengthen it, while still protecting fishermen and their communities."

White and Linda Behnken, of the Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association, are both members of the Network, and testified along with Crockett at the hearing.

The IFQ bill contains requirements to provide fair and equitable allocation of quota shares, a directive to minimize negative social and economic impacts on coastal communities, a five year limit on quota shares, which it also makes revocable, and a prohibition to "prevent any person or entity from acquiring an excessive share of individual quotas issues for the fishery."

The Network is urging Congress to create more explicit review and renewal or reallocation procedures, and to define "excessive share" in the statute to not exceed one percent of the total quota shares.

"Our fish populations are in trouble," said Kim Davis, fish conservation program director, Center for Marine Conservation, also a Network member group. "IFQ programs could be helpful in the management of some fisheries and should be allowed, but only after protective national standards are in place. We want to ensure that IFQ programs actually promote conservation in order to provide a healthier future for our fish populations - and the fisheries that depend upon them. The Snowe bill is a good start."

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TURTLE PROTECTION LAWSUIT AGAINST LONGLINERS FILED IN CALIFORNIA

SAN FRANCISCO, California, May 2, 2001 (ENS) - Facing new limits in the waters of Hawaii, a fleet of longline fishing vessels is relocating to California to avoid a federal judge's decision to enforce protections for the endangered leatherback sea turtle. In response, Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Center for Biological Diversity working with attorneys from Earthjustice Environmental Law Clinic filed suit in federal court in San Francisco today asking the National Marine Fisheries Service to close this regulatory loophole and enforce the Endangered Species Act.

In April, Hawaii federal district court Judge David Ezra, ordered the closure of the Hawaii based longline swordfish fleet and reduced fishing of the tuna fleet to reduce the longliners' impacts on threatened and endangered sea turtles. Judge Ezra had previously issued an injunction closing millions of square miles of Pacific Ocean to longline fishing, based on a lawsuit filed on behalf of Turtle Island Restoration Network and another plaintiff. "The harm to the turtles is incalculable," the judge said.

"Rather than comply with the Hawaiian injunction, the longliners have chosen to move their operations to California, where the can operate free of environmental review," said Brendan Cummings, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. "The time has come for the National Marine Fisheries Service to close this loophole and help save the leatherbacks from extinction."

The California based deep water longline fleet fishes primarily for tuna and swordfish using monofilament lines up to 30 miles long and carrying thousands of hooks. These longlines ensnare critically endangered leatherback turtles, as well as loggerhead, olive ridley, and green turtles which are also endangered.

Each year the longliners entangle thousands of seabirds, such as albatross, and tens of thousands of sharks.

"The giant, Pacific leatherback is on the verge of extinction due to commercial fishing operations," explained Todd Steiner, director, Turtle Island Restoration Network. "If we don't modify our fishing activities, the ancient leatherback, which out-survived the dinosaurs, may be the first of many species to disappear forever, including the many overfished species of fish on which we depend on for food."

A study published in the June 2000 issue of the international journal "Nature" predicts the species will go extinct within 10 years without reductions in adult mortality from fishing activities.

"The National Marine Fisheries Service must follow the law and consider the impacts of this fishery on protected species under the Endangered Species Act," said Deborah Sivas of Earthjustice. "The agency should also move quickly to come into compliance with the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act of 1995 which prohibits permitting of activity that 'undermines the effectiveness of international conservation and management measures.'"

Leatherbacks nest in Mexico and Costa Rica in the eastern Pacific, and, in the western Pacific, in Malaysia and Irian Jaya. Although in 1980 it was estimated that there were 126,000 adult female leatherbacks in the eastern Pacific alone, scientists estimate that there are less than 3,000 leatherbacks of both genders left in the eastern Pacific. The western Pacific nesting populations have also been devastated, and are near extinction.

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PEPSI SHAREHOLDERS PRESSURED TO SUPPORT RECYCLING

PLANO, Texas, May 2, 2001 (ENS) - PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Roger Enrico and the company's board of directors were lobbied today by investors and environmentalists to adopt recycling goals during the annual shareholder meeting.

Investors holding 83.3 million shares of PepsiCo, Inc. worth 3.7 billion dollars, voted to support a shareholder resolution on recycling at the company's annual meeting today in Plano.

"Investor sponsors of the PepsiCo shareholder recycling proposal called the 8.1 percent 'yes' vote today an excellent result," said Lance King, spokesman for the environmental groups supporting the shareholder recycling proposal.

"We opened a discussion today between shareholders and management on Pepsi's dismal recycling record and the growing waste problem. The investment funds sponsoring the recycling proposal clearly believe that protecting the environment and making healthy profits go hand in hand," said Bill Sheehan, network coordinator for the GrassRoots Recycling Network.

The coalition presented a letter to the PepsiCo Board of Directors signed by 98 public officials, government agencies, businesses, environmental organizations, student and community groups in support of the shareholder recycling proposal.

Walden Asset Management of Boston, Massachusetts and Domini Social Investments of New York are the primary co-sponsors of the shareholder recycling proposal. The proposal calls for PepsiCo to meet specific recycling goals by January 1, 2005 such as making bottles with 25 percent recycled plastic, and achieving an 80 percent national recycling rate for collection of bottles and cans.

Kenneth Scott, research analyst with Walden Asset Management, made the presentation on behalf of shareholders who hold more than 400,000 shares of PepsiCo. Scott focused on the growing plastic bottle waste problem, noting industry data showing that "an estimated three-quarters of the used plastic bottles end up in incinerators or landfills."

"More than five million Pepsi soda bottles and cans will be thrown away rather than recycled during the course of this meeting," said Pat Franklin, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute, based in Arlington, Virginia.

Ten states with bottle bills already achieve an 80 percent recycling rate. The proponents of the resolution called on PepsiCo to stop opposing bottle bills or come up with an alternative that achieves comparable results.

Bottle and can litter is a growing problem of special concern to Georgia environmentalist Bob Woodall, executive director of the Atlanta based Waste Not Georgia. "One-way, disposable containers used by PepsiCo are thrown on the streets of metro Atlanta, in parks, along highways, and on farmland and beaches. Litter is one of the primary reasons for the passage of most bottle bill laws. When I travel to states that place a refundable deposit on beverage containers there is much less litter."

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OAK RIDGE BOYS SING TO ATTRACT WILDLAND FIRE FIGHTERS

WASHINGTON, DC, May 2, 2001 (ENS) - To step up recruitment of wildland firefighters and fuel maintenance workers for the upcoming fire season, Interior Secretary Gale Norton has teamed up with the Oak Ridge Boys on a radio public service announcement campaign.

"We must ensure that we are prepared to meet the challenges of protecting communities and landscapes from the wrath of wildland fire," said Norton. "It's imperative that we not only have the equipment ready, but also enough well trained men and women ready to meet this awesome challenge head on."

band

(Photo courtesy Oak Ridge Boys)
The Oak Ridge Boys - Duane Allen, Richard Sterban, Joe Bonsall and William Lee Golden - volunteered their time for the project. In 1945, the original group, based in Knoxville, Tennesee, began performing country and gospel music in nearby Oak Ridge where the atomic bomb was being developed. They now have had dozens of country hits plus Grammy and other music industry awards.

The Interior Department is working with other federal agencies, state, local and tribal governments to prepare for and fight this year's wildland fires. The radio PSA's with Norton and the Oak Ridge Boys will be distributed to stations nationwide.

The wildland fire PSA's are being sent to 5,000 radio stations in selected areas of the country. The digital compact disc includes two 30 second spots and three 60 second spots, including one in Spanish.

A worse than average fire season is already anticipated in Eastern states, especially Florida. This is due to the dry, and in many places, extreme drought conditions, continued below normal rainfall, and the fact that these areas have yet to recover from the previous years of drought conditions.

The West has also been suffering from generally drier than normal conditions since 1998. Given the meager snowpack and warmer than normal spring, the snowmelt will be well ahead of schedule. Depending upon the number, timing and intensity of the spring rains, and the June rains in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies, the West may experience an above average fire season.

Last year was the worst fire season in over 50 years, more than 92,000 wildland fires consumed 7.5 million acres of land. To listen to the PSA's, log onto http://www.doi.gov/news/psa010502.html

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NICK BROWN TAKES A LONG WALK FOR BAY AREA YOUTH

PACIFIC CREST TRAIL - Nick Brown, an Oakland, California educator, artist and photographer is hiking the 2,650 mile long Pacific Crest Trail to raise awareness and support for the urban youth wilderness program Bay Area Wilderness Training, a project of Earth Island Institute.

Nick started walking north April 27 at the Mexican border and will make his way along the coast through the summer months, hoping to end in mid-September at the Canadian border. Along the way, he will send in journal entries and photographs via his wireless computer to his website: http://www.NicksLongWalk.org. This will allow people to follow his route, ask questions, and gain an intimate glimpse of life on the trail.

Brown, 26, is a backpacker who is striding the miles away to dramatize his belief that urban young people, especially people of color, deserve access to the outdoors.

At 6'9" Brown has the advantage of a huge stride. He will take one-third fewer steps than most others hiking the trail to cover the same distance, and expects to average 2O miles a day.

Brown writes in his first journal entry, "On my long [Pacific Coast Trail] hike in '99 I was not so much surprised as disappointed by the lack of cultural diversity that I observed among those hiking the trail. ... Over four months and 1,800 miles I met only three people of color. The fact that the trail so poorly represented the diversity of the state was especially conspicuous. If someone does not want to be in the woods that is fine - it is not my desire that everyone become a modern day John Muir. But if they are not in the woods simply because they have never had the opportunity or the resources, that is problematic."

When Brown returned from that hike, he contacted Kyle Macdonald, founder of Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT). This nonprofit organization provides Bay Area youth service agencies with professional wilderness training and quality equipment so city youngsters can explore California's back country.

"The wilderness is a powerful tool for teaching," says Macdonald. "Our philosophy is to train teachers to use this tool. Through our training, we teach the basic skills: How to keep kids safe in the wilderness, use a map and compass, tread lightly on the land. As a youth worker you translate those skills - teamwork, safety, and cooperation - in ways appropriate for yourself and the population you are serving."

Many of the organizations that have been trained by, and borrow equipment from BAWT are urban youth agencies and centers whose youth have never seen the Sierra Nevada mountains. Many have never been to Marin County's Mt. Tamalpais, a few miles from the Bay Area cities. Organizations trained with BAWT include Life Learning Academy of San Francisco, Vision Youthz of Santa Clara, the Oakland YMCA's Future Choice Program, and several Bay Area high schools.

Brown is asking companies, businesses, organizations and people from throughout the area to sponsor each mile of the trail at the rate of $10 per mile to raise a total of $26,500 for BAWT outdoor training programs.

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CRANES LEARN TO MIGRATE BY FOLLOWING AN ULTRALIGHT

MADISON, Wisconsin, May 2, 2001 (ENS) - A flock of sandhill cranes led by ultralight aircraft on a 1,250 mile migration training journey from central Wisconsin to Florida last fall, have returned on their own to their rearing and training grounds in the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin.

The cranes were part of an experiment to test rearing and training techniques and a migration route that would be used to establish a migrating whooping crane population between Wisconsin and Florida. The cranes left Florida on February 25 and their location was unknown until this past weekend.

"I couldn't be happier or more pleased," said Steve Miller administrator of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Land Division. "We never lost faith in the sandhills but we were a little anxious when they left Florida because nothing in nature is a given. Now we're more excited than ever to start work with the whoopers once everything is in place."

Whooping cranes are one of the world's most endangered birds. From a population low point estimated at 16 birds in the early 1940s, biologists and wildlife managers have slowly built the wild population up to around 180 birds which migrate between Canada's Northwest Territories and the Texas Gulf coast. Establishing a second migrating flock would add to the species' survival chances.

Captive whoopers and a nonmigrating flock living in Florida bring the world's total whooping crane population to about 380 birds.

"This incredible event is a perfect example of the excellent working partnerships DNR has developed with hunter's groups, environmental groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Darrel Bazzell. "At DNR, we've brought together expertise from our wildlife, endangered resources, water quality and communication and education programs to make this happen and keep the public informed and involved every step of the way. This is wonderful news and proof positive that integrated resource management and partnerships can bring back our native species to the landscape."

In 1999, the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership was created to guide the establishment of a migrating flock of whooping cranes east of the Mississippi. The partnership includes the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the International Crane Foundation, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Whooping Crane Recovery Team, the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the bird trainers and flight leaders, Operation Migration, Inc.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently completed a round of public hearings in Florida, Tennessee, Indiana and Wisconsin asking for public comment on an environmental assessment of the proposed reintroduction and on an nonessential experimental designation for the reintroduced birds. The designation was sought to prevent closure or modification of hunting seasons and opportunities along the proposed migration flyway and restriction of normal activities such as agriculture or development.

A final draft of the assessment and rule that are necessary for the project to continue are expected in June.

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VORTECHS STORMWATER TREATMENT TESTS WELL IN UPSTATE NEW YORK

ALBANY, New York, May 2, 2001 (ENS) - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has completed a study evaluating the ability of the Vortechs® Stormwater Treatment System to remove sediment and other pollutants transported by stormwater to Lake George, Lake George Village, New York.

The study found the system removed 88 percent of the Total Suspended Solids (TSS) load in the 95 percent impervious catchment over the 11 month testing period. Vortechnics, Inc., manufacturer of the product, designed the system to achieve a minimum TSS reduction of 80 percent.

"Since the 1970s, when there was a rapid increase in the rate and concentration of development along the southwestern shores of Lake George, we have been concerned about the impact of stormwater discharges into the lake," said Tracy West, co-author of the study with James Sutherland and Jay Bloomfield, also with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

"Increasing regulation of non-point sources of pollution has led to the development of engineered systems like the one in this study to help remove pollutants and sediments emitted into lakes and streams," she said.

"Despite the availability of these systems, very few independent tests have been conducted on these units," said West. "The New York State DEC initiated this study with a grant from Section 319 to test the effectiveness of the Vortechs System in treating stormwater run-off."

The study concluded that the Village and Town of Lake George should consider installing additional Vortechs Systems in areas where sedimentation and erosion have been identified as non-point source pollution problems. The DEC also recommended investigating a way to retrofit the system with a structure or device to remove fine nutrient particulate and dissolved phosphorous and nitrogen, and increase maintenance frequency to twice a year.

Metals like lead are often found in the sediment. A mid-winter cleanout would reduce seasonally high calcium and chloride loads due to winter de-icing of roads.

For more information on the Vortechs System or a copy of the NYS DEC report, visit: http://www.vortechnics.com.