"We want to be a resource for groups that are working to pass strong state wildlife and wildlands laws," says Sue George, Defenders of Wildlife State Counsel and co-director of the new biodiversity network. "For citizens who feel that they are the only ones who care about wildlife and wildlands in their states, GREEN can connect them with others who are working on the same issues."
Building from GREEN's national network, the program is designed to help mobilize grassroots pressure at the state level and to share information, strategies, tactics and organizing tools among activists across the country.
GREEN, a project of Defenders of Wildlife, has an impressive track record of working on federal legislation. The network will now work at the state level as well, where action on wildlife and habitat issues is increasing.
"This program is a natural extension of the work we have been doing on federal environmental legislation," says Roger Featherstone, director of GREEN and co-director with George of the network. "We see this as an opportunity to provide real support on state-level issues."
State laws, policies and programs are critical in protecting wildlife species and habitat, he says. "Because of the trend toward weakening federal environmental laws and shifting responsibility to the states, state legislation is increasingly a means for protecting or destroying our environment." However, Featherstone warns, efforts on the part of state government officials and politicians to pass positive environmental laws have been piecemeal.
"States have the primary responsibility to protect wildlife and wildlands within their borders," explains George. "But, for the most part, they have not tapped into their resources to address one of the most urgent problems they face - the loss of plants, animals, and habitat." George notes that wildlife and wildlands are important not only for spiritual and emotional reasons, but also because they provide food, economic and medicinal resources to states.
Working with citizens across the country, GREEN is hoping to make a huge impact on state wildlife and wildlands protection with measures ranging from state endangered species acts to habitat acquisition. In addition to co-directors George and Featherstone, the program will be staffed by several regional organizers who will work closely with citizens in each state.
The network will disseminate updates on state campaigns, information about the progress of state laws, campaign reports from member groups and action alerts. In addition, GREEN's staff will provide technical support to citizens by analyzing select wildlife issues, developing model state biodiversity laws and training activists about organizing tools.
Activists will be offered free subscriptions to WILDlines, a publication that highlights contentious state environmental issues, threats to wildlife and wildlands, actions by state agencies and grassroots success stories. A sample of the publication follows.
Contact(s):Susan George, 505-255-5966
Roger Featherstone, 505-255-5966