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CW Government Relations Committee Update and Action Alert on LWCF and Endangered Species Act

Friday, September 21, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Laura Reilly

Chicago Wilderness Government Relations Committee Update

1.Federal Update *Action Alert*

2.CW GRC Update

Federal Update

Endangered Species Act Proposed Rule Changes Petition

There are currently a number of attempts to undermine the science-based protections provided by theEndangered Species Act. In addition to a number of damaging pieces of federal legislation, the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Department of Commerce have recently proposed administrative rule changes to the implementation of the Endangered Species Act. Conservation organizations are concerned the rules will undermine essential conservation tools that have protected endangered species and their habitats for decades. The act has been used to protect imperiled species in the CW region like the Hine’s emerald dragonfly, the Topeka shiner, and the rusty patched bumble bee. More information on the proposed changes can be found in thisChicago Sun-Times opinion articleco-authored by the Shedd Aquarium, Brookfield Zoo, and Lincoln Park Zoo.

*Action Alert*

Tell the Department of Interior and Department of Commerce to withdraw the proposed removal of protections to threatened and endangered species through theShedd Aquarium’s Raise Your Voice action center.

Key Conservation Programs Expire on September 30th

Many key conservation programs will expire at the end of fiscal year 2018 next week, September 30th, if they are not reauthorized by congress. Organizations throughout the Chicago Wilderness Region have been advocating for their passage and we encourage you to do the same.

·The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF): LWCF is primary source of federal money that pays for improvements to public lands. CW members across the region have benefited from this funding to grow recreational opportunities, provide trails, and improve biodiversity. The House passed their version of LWCF which permanently authorizes the program but does not provide dedicated funding. The Senate has yet to pass their version.

·The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): The House passed their version of WRDA and the Senate has plans to do so this month. This federal legislation is the main vehicle for authorizing water projects and studies, in addition to making changes to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ portfolio of water projects. Everything from Lake Michigan shoreline restoration, to urban storm water management, to invasive species removal has been authorized under WRDA.

·The Farm Bill: The Farm Bill is currently in conference to merge the versions that were passed in the House and Senate. The content of the bill is mostly set at this point, but we are still concerned that it will not be passed before its expiration on September 30th. The Farm Bill is the largest legislative vehicle for private conservation. If these programs are allowed to expire, it could have serious consequences for the region.

*Action Alert*

1.Reach out to your Congressperson or Senator and let them know these programs are important to your organization and should be prioritized for passage before they expire on September 30th.

2.OpenlandsandThe Nature Conservancyhave made it easy for you to send an email to your elected officials with their online LWCF action center.

CW Government Relations Committee Update

We continue to make strides in reconstituting our advocacy voice for the region. Updates on progress were made to the April and July Executive Council (EC) meetings which address the processes and documents that will determine if and when to take a position on a policy issue. Another update is planned for the October meeting. The GRC page on the CW website will serve as the primary resource for information and we hope to start building more content as the committee becomes more active. Please consider joining the committeehereto get information or share your resources.

Look out for another GRC update after the November election!