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U.S. House bill puts conservation in its sights  

Credit:  By Dave Golowenski | For The Columbus Dispatch | www.dispatch.com 22 July 2012 ~~

Although the formulation of legislation does not make for much of a spectator sport, results can generate cheers and jeers.

A number of sportsmen-affiliated conservation groups are giving the raspberries to the U.S. House version of the fiscal year 2013 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which was voted out of committee in late June.

The proposed $28 billion bill calls for about a 17 percent cut in the budget of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While the U.S. Department of the Interior will maintain its 2012 funding level, several programs considered crucial by a number of sportsmen’s groups are scheduled to take sizable hits.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, for example, would be cut about 80 percent, to 1968 levels. The fund, which is paid from fees charged to companies that drill offshore for oil and gas, provides money to federal, state and local governments to “purchase land, water and wetlands that become part of the nation’s public lands,” the Wildlife Society reported.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would have its budget cut by $317 million, or 21 percent, including a 10 percent reduction in funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Funding through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act would decline by $13 million, and $7 million would be cut for much-needed Chesapeake Bay restoration.

Among opponents of the House appropriations bill include leaders of the Berkley Conservation Institute, the Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, the National Wildlife Refuge Association and the American Sportfishing Association.

Bird peril

When Rachel Carson published her groundbreaking book Silent Spring in 1962, she imagined a continent with few birds as the result of the almost indiscriminate use at the time of deadly chemicals.

While Carson’s book led to regulations that benefited many birds, including waterfowl, bald eagles and other raptors, humans have continued to find numerous ways to exterminate birds in large numbers. Wind turbines, cell towers and skyscrapers are among the contemporary killing machines.

A recent report, moreover, suggest that perhaps millions of birds each year – including western meadowlarks, mountain bluebirds, screech owls and woodpeckers – are succumbing to uncapped plastic pipes used to mark many of the 3.4 million mining claims on public lands in the West.

Migrating birds apparently spot the opening of the pipes, which measure 4 inches in diameter and about 4 feet in length, sticking out of the ground and mistake them for natural hollows “suitable for nesting, roosting or congregating to generate body heat,” Reuters reported.

When birds fall into the pipes, they are unable to escape and eventually die from starvation or dehydration.

Parting shots

Chris Rice, the Union County enforcement officer with the Ohio Division of Wildlife since 2008, has been assigned to Licking County. Rice, a 2004 graduate of Hocking College, can be reached by phone at (614) 644-3925 ext. 1207 … The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has granted awards totaling almost $963,000 to 30 states for the white-nose syndrome projects. White-nose syndrome is the scourge of North American bats, killing an estimated 5.5 million of the nocturnal, insect-eating mammals since its discovery in New York during the winter of 2006-07. Ohio’s share of the awards is $46,050.

Source:  By Dave Golowenski | For The Columbus Dispatch | www.dispatch.com 22 July 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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