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Message to TWW Supporters
A STATEMENT FROM THE TEAMING WITH WILDLIFE NATIONAL STEERING COMMITTEE
American Birding Association
American Fisheries Society
International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Izaak Walton League of America
National Audubon Society
National Wildlife Federation
National Wild Turkey Federation
National Association of State Park Directors
The Wildlife Society
Wildlife Management Institute
December 10, 1998
Dear Teaming with Wildlife Coalition Member:
Legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Congress may have broken the
deadlock that has held up the most ambitious wildlife-conservation
funding initiative in recent memory. In addition, a Department of
Interior proposal is in progress that would approach similar funding
needs but from a slightly different angle. Though the House and Senate
bills still need work and are a long way from final passage through
Congress, all three options could provide hundreds of millions of dollars
annually for wildlife conservation programs.
As you know, Teaming with Wildlife, an effort to establish a dedicated
fund for state-based nongame wildlife conservation, has been centered on
a funding source that would have created a small user-fee on equipment
connected with outdoor activities. The new Congressional alternative,
however, would draw on a totally different source of funding. Known in
the House as the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA, H.R. 4717) and
in the Senate as the Reinvestment and Environmental Restoration Act
(RERA, S. 2566), these bills would dedicate a portion of federal income
from offshore oil and natural gas leases [As of 1/19/99, the new bill
numbers are H.R. 701 and S.25] for a variety of purposes, including
wildlife conservation, education, and recreation. The Department of
Interior's proposal, Partnerships for America's Resources (PAR), is
likely to use outer continental shelf leasing revenues as well and might
be included in the Administration's FY 2000 budget request.[On 1/12/99,
the President unveiled the Lands Legacy Initiative]
Despite the unprecedented 3,000-member coalition, the original TWW
proposal encountered serious resistance because of the tax implications.
So far we have been unable to get it formally introduced as a bill before
Congress with the support necessary to make it viable. The newly
introduced pieces of legislation, which have strong bipartisan support in
both the House and Senate side of Congress, offer creative ways around
the deadlock. These proposals could provide the first opportunity to take
proactive conservation actions to prevent species from becoming
endangered and building a new generation of wildlife stewards through
education and recreation programs.
At this point we do not have full details about the Department of
Interior's plan, but it appears that it would include substantial,
dedicated funds for land acquisition, resource protection and
restoration. The proposal, entitled Partnerships for America's Resources
(PAR) appears to be broader then the Congressional alternatives and is
likely to disperse Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing revenues
and coal mine fees to seven funds including the Land and Water
Conservation Fund and a nongame funding component. The proposal is
currently in the process of being reviewed by senior Office of Management
and Budget and White House officials. We will keep you informed as we
learn more.[See 1/14/99 Update].
The House and Senate bills (CARA and RERA respectively) would dedicate
50% or more of annual revenues from offshore gas and oil leases -
projected at $4.59 billion in the year 2000 - into three separate funds.
The distribution is stipulated in three "titles" in these bills.
Title I -- Outer Continental Shelf Impact Assistance -- This section
would dedicate 27 percent (or approximately $1.24 billion based on FY
2000 estimates) of annual offshore oil and gas revenue to coastal states
and local communities for impact assistance including environmental
remediation or infrastructure needs associated with outer continental
shelf activity off their coasts. Impact assistance funds could be used
for projects like air and water quality improvements, coastal zone
management, beach replenishment and conservation of fish, wildlife and
wetlands as well as for onshore infrastructure and public service
requirements. Title I is available to 30 "coastal" states including Great
Title II -- State, Local and Urban Conservation and Recreation -- This
section would dedicate 23 percent in CARA (or $1.06 billion based on FY
2000 estimates) or 16 percent in RERA (or $734 million based on FY 2000
estimates) of offshore oil and gas revenue for funding the Land and Water
Conservation Fund and the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Programs.
These funds would be used for state, federal and local recreation and
Title III -- Wildlife Conservation and Restoration -- This section would
dedicate 10 percent in CARA (or $459 million based on FY 2000 estimates)
or 7 percent in RERA (or $321 million based on FY 2000 estimates) of
offshore oil and gas revenue to fund state-level wildlife conservation,
wildlife education, and wildlife-associated recreation projects and
encompasses most of TWW's goals.
Members of the TWW Steering Committee responded to drafts of the House
and Senate bills before they were introduced. As a result, several
important changes have already been made since the draft legislation was
circulated, and we will continue to work towards strengthening the bill.
Within the TWW Steering Committee we have agreed to focus our comments on
the wildlife funding aspect of the bill (Title III) while recognizing
that there are likely to be differences or concerns among organizations
over Titles I and II. We do agree on the three aspects of Title III that
need clarification or changing in CARA and/or RERA:
1. We are unified in stressing that the proposed 7 percent expenditure of
offshore oil and gas revenues for Title III in the Senate bill (RERA)
must be raised to match the 10 percent as called for in the House bill
2. Both bills need to emphasize nongame species. Neither bill currently
includes the specific priority of funding nongame wildlife. Although both
bills call for spending for "a broader array of wildlife" and other
similar language, the specific priority of nongame wildlife is not
stated. The TWW effort has never said that nongame wildlife should be the
only beneficiary of this new funding, but we have stressed that nongame
should be clearly emphasized.
3. Both bills call for a level of "public involvement in the process of
development and implementation" of the wildlife program. However,
language on public participation needs further explanation, outlining
what kinds of participation the states should pursue as part of
fulfilling their obligations under the new legislation.
The 105th Congress adjourned for the year on October 20, 1998 and there
will be no further legislative action on the Conservation and
Reinvestment Act (CARA - H.R. 4717) or the Reinvestment and Environmental
Restoration Act (RERA - S. 2566). CARA and RERA are expected to be
reintroduced when the 106th Congress convenes, and they should have new
identifying numbers. Co-sponsors of the bills introduced this year are
provided in the box to the left.
It is the vision, dedication, and tenacity of the powerful Teaming With
Wildlife coalition that has carried us this far and it is clear that the
newly proposed legislation and the Department of Interior's plan have
been significantly influenced by the years of active involvement by the
TWW coalition for the original concept. While TWW's original vision of
user-fee funding of conservation remains alive, the new proposals
currently appear to offer a more viable funding option. But there is
still work that needs to be done on the legislation and a high priority
for the TWW coalition will be to shape the two new pieces of legislation
into a form that is as beneficial as possible for wildlife conservation.
Thank you for all your efforts!
Let's work for a victory in the New Year!
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
There is still much work ahead for TWW supporters if we hope to make this
funding dream a reality. In order to accomplish this goal, we need united
action and will rely heavily on the TWW coalition members to call on
their congressional representatives to support improved TWW-type
Discuss your goals and translate them into an action plan for next year.
Specifically focus on securing passage of funding for wildlife
conservation and related education and recreation. Now is the time to get
together with fellow coalition members from your state to learn more
about the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, the Reinvestment and
Environmental Restoration Act and Partnerships for America's Resources.
(IAFWA's TWW web site -- www.teaming.com -- has both Congressional bills
available as well as extensive information on the original proposal and
other important comparisons.) Focus on improving the three items in Title
III that we have outlined and develop your own comments on Titles I and
II. In addition, it is not too early for your coalition to start thinking
about identifying state matching funds.
Contact your Members of Congress, your Governor and the White House. Now
is the time to raise awareness and brief your members of Congress. Write
letters and emails, meet with your congressional district staff and
include his/her Washington staff by phone. Get these vital wildlife
opportunities on their radar screen before they return in January and set
their legislative agendas for the year. Now is also the time to make your
Governor and the President aware of these new proposals and the
importance of creating a dedicated fund for nongame wildlife
conservation. Let them know that CARA and RERA are a good start and
encourage them to make the three modifications listed above. Feel free to
add your own suggestions or changes to Titles I and II of the legislation
as well.[See What You Can Do to Help]
Spread the Word. Inform your organization members and/or customers about
these opportunities. Talk it up among your friends and colleagues, speak
at relevant meetings, publish articles and action alerts in your group's
newsletters, write letters to the editor, include information on your web
site and link it to www.teaming.com. Be sure to let them know that there
needs to be changes made to the bills, but emphasize the potential that
these bills have for conservation.
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