Speak up for nature in Olympia this session on an upcoming Advocacy Day.
Washington, DC-- The Nature Conservancy in Washington honored Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) with its “Champion of Nature” award.
Mike Stevens, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Washington, presented the award in person as he and members of the Washington Board of Trustees and staff traveled to Capitol Hill to discuss several conservation issues currently facing Congress.
The Promoting United Government Efforts to Save Our Sound (PUGET SOS) Act was introduced by Representatives Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck (D-WA) this September to designate Puget Sound as a water body of national significance, ensure adequate federal resources are allocated to Puget Sound recovery and coordinate and align federal agency efforts with the state-led efforts under the Puget Sound Action Agenda.
While presenting the award, the Conservancy and some of its volunteer leaders from Washington noted the importance of lands and waters to their families and their businesses.
In the Capitol Hill meetings, representatives of Conservancy focused on actions Congress could take to help nature be a part of the solution to improve our nation’s economy, health and well-being. Specifically, they asked Congress to renew and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expired on September 30 after a successful 50-year history of conserving places in every state in the nation. Representative Kilmer is a co-sponsor of a bill that would permanently reauthorize the LWCF. They also focused on other ways to ensure sustainable funding for conservation programs and efforts to secure a cleaner and more secure energy future.
Nationally, outdoor recreation, natural resource conservation, and historic preservation provide a minimum $1.7 trillion in economic impact in the U.S. and support 12.8 million jobs. (Southwick study, May 2013) In Washington, outdoor recreation generates $22.5 billion dollars in consumer spending.
This week, over 175 Conservancy trustees from across the country flew in to Washington, DC, to speak up for the Future of Nature.
From Washington State, Board Chair Byron Bishop, Bruce Nelson, and Scott Wyatt joined State Director Mike Stevens and Federal Government Relations Director Cathy Baker in meeting with the majority of our congressional delegation.
Advocating on Capitol Hill was both inspiring and a lot of hard work. Highlights included:
- Our trustees sharing their stories about why the Conservancy meant so much to them
- A moving speech by Congressman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) about the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the gift we can give future generations
- 80 degree weather in October
- One legislative staffer commenting that if a wheat farmer and a tech worker both supported the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, then it must be a good idea.
- Joining former Bush administration deputy secretary of the Interior and Nature Conservancy Director of Public Policy Lynn Scarlett in a meeting on healthy forests
This week illustrated so clearly how much local voices matter to our elected officials. They truly care what their constituents think about public policy.
Don’t forget that your voice matters too! If you believe as we do that a healthy economy and a healthy environment are inextricably linked, take a moment to speak up for nature.