Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Where's Mine?" Should Echo Hope on Sanibel for an Even Better Refuge

The Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is one of over 500 United States Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S Department of Interior refuges managed within the country.

Regular wildlife surveys are conducted to monitor populations of migratory birds and their production, and to establish trends for a number of species, primarily birds. The refuge monitors colonial nesting and roosting bird numbers, shorebird populations, mottled duck, pelican and osprey production, and alligator and red-shouldered hawk abundance. A weekly Wildlife Drive survey is conducted on Fridays to monitor the abundance and diversity of bird populations using refuge wetlands. Water levels are monitored continuously.

The preservation of Ding Darling and its fauna and flora are hopefully going to be part of the national agenda on the environment in President Elect Obama's administration. And there is also a hope that the new administration can develop an environmental platform that helps to create preservation and conservation of lands and wild life outside the refuge habitat.

President Elect Obama built his campaign on hope, and many people, including myself, were certainly buoyed by this "audacious" concept.

Hope for a more united, more communicative, and more equitable America were among the ideals stated or implied.

But drilling down to finer points and the eternal question of "where's mine" --always asked of a new administration-- has particular power when it comes to the environment.

Most, if not all, of the environmental organizations across America supported the Obama campaign even though Obama's record was sketchy with his frequent absences on votes pertaining to critical environmental issues.

But because the Republican party had been so tarnished by the Bush administration's poor record on the environment,there was one remarkably strong need stated during the presidential campaign. It was that Obama should be sensitive to and responsive to the need for strong, protective environmental laws.

Our most important environmental safeguards like the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act have been underfunded and undermined for quite some time. These and other key environmental pieces of legislation are in the forefront of the "where's mine" question. The question is asked on behalf of the nation's creatures and their habitat, including those on Sanibel.

The Defenders of Wildlife organization have circulated a 7 point plan asking that their members sign it and send it on to the President Elect. The plan hinges on getting our new President to commit to these fundamental environmental issues:

1. Promise to end the political manipulation of science
2. Promise to responsibly manage America's federal lands
3. Promise to safeguard America's rarest plants and wildlife
4. Promise to make America a leader in addressing global warming and its impacts
5. Promise to restore America's role as a global leader in wildlife conservation
6. Promise to restore our connection to nature through education and proper stewardship of our shared federal lands
7. Promise to encourage private landowners, states and tribes to conserve wildlife and habitat

It's my most fervent wish that the environment, along with the humane treatment of animals, become the best and brightest bragging points for this new President.

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