|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||November 13, 2012|
|Contact:||Diane Hoskins, Restore America’s Estuaries: (202) 642-4615; firstname.lastname@example.org
Alison Zemanski Heis, National Parks Conservation Association: (202) 384-8762; email@example.com
Millions of Americans Agree: Habitat Restoration is Critical for the Environment and Economy
Letter Urges President and Congress to Fund Habitat Restoration Programs Across the Country
Washington, D.C.—More than 300 businesses, nonprofit and advocacy groups, industry trade groups, and tribal associations, representing millions of members and constituents throughout the country, have signed and today shared a letter calling on the Administration and Congress to support federal programs that protect and restore habitats in and around our estuaries, rivers, and lakes. Not only are our coasts and waterways critical to everyday life for Americans, healthy habitat and waters are good for the environment and support a strong economy.
The organizations—a “Who’s Who” of nationally prominent environmental, outdoor trade, and sporting organizations, as well as concerned coastal business owners—agree that a sustained federal investment in habitat restoration funding is required to achieve long-term restoration goals. The groups expressed great concern with the unprecedented levels of proposed funding cuts, as a result of current federal budget discussions and the $1.2 trillion in mandated sequestration cuts. If congress fails to find a solution, January 2, 2013 will spell disaster for key programs and the communities, waterways, and local economies that depend on them.
“If there is any silver lining in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it is the attention it has focused on the crisis facing our coasts,” said Jeff Benoit, President and CEO of Restore America’s Estuaries. “As concerned coastal stakeholders we are urging our leaders to prioritize and fund the programs which provide the critical capital for on-the-ground restoration projects. These projects and programs are essential if we are to protect and restore coastal, estuarine, and freshwater resources that are essential to our nation’s environment and economy.”
The group letter urges the Administration and Congress to support critical federal habitat restoration programs because healthy habitats support and protect commercial and recreational industries that feed dollars into local economies. In addition, the increasing usage and visitation demands placed on these areas require sustained restoration efforts and funds to reverse ongoing damage and deterioration.
“Our national parks are not islands. They depend upon the healthy waterways that surround and flow through them,” said Theresa Pierno, Executive Vice President for the National Parks Conservation Association and Co-chair for the America’s Great Waters Coalition. “America’s Great Waters are the lifeblood of our nation providing drinking water to millions, offering amazing recreational opportunities, supporting regional economies, and enhancing our national parks. We must work together to find a balanced approach to the federal budget crisis that does not unfairly burden our Great Waters or undermine clean water protections.”
Investments for protecting and restoring critical habitats result in fish that are plentiful and safe to eat, beaches that are clean to swim in, water that is safe to drink, and a healthy ecosystem in which native fish and wildlife thrive. Local projects increase our quality of life, boost our economy through jobs, and improve property values and long-term tax-payer savings.
“As we look to the future, providing programs and funding to reconnect rivers with paddlers, habitat, and jobs is critical for the health and well being of local economies,” said Mark Singleton, American Whitewater Executive Director. “This investment creates a triple bottom-line; it's good for healthy active outdoor recreation, good for habitat restoration, and a good strategy for economic development in rural communities.”
“The loss of funds to federal habitat restoration programs, particularly NOAA’s Community-based Restoration program could severely diminish both hunting and fishing resources in the United States for decades to come,” said Ducks Unlimited Chief Conservation Officer Paul Schmidt.
“Coastal habitats support spawning and nursing grounds for many fish species and recreational fishing in saltwater alone supports over a half-million jobs and adds $30 billion to the Nation’s economy each year,” said Gordon Robertson, Vice President of the American Sportfishing Association. “Maintaining and restoring these habitats is not only important for fisheries but also for jobs and healthy local coastal economies.”
"Habitat restoration creates good jobs," said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers. "If you're looking to create jobs, boost the economy, and help wildlife and the environment, habitat restoration is a grand slam." Concerned groups are national leaders in each of their area of expertise and advocate for strong habitat restoration programs. Lead organizations include: American Rivers, American Sportfishing Association, American Whitewater, Ducks Unlimited, National Audubon, National Parks Conservation Association, Outdoor Alliance, Outdoor Industry Association, and Restore America’s Estuaries joined forces to spearhead the outreach for this letter.