- Congress Slows Wolf Recovery
- Big Sugar Poses Everglades Threat
Conservationists celebrated a major victory this spring when 14
gray wolves were released into Yellowstone National Park.
However, that celebration may be cut short by yet another
congressionally driven budget cut.
Wolf recovery is an essential part of the Sierra Club's efforts
to restore ecological balance in Yellowstone and other wilderness
areas [see November 1994 Planet, page 6]. "Wolves are critical to
the health of the Yellowstone ecosystem," said Betsy Buffington,
conservation assistant in the Club's Northern Plains field
office. "Their absence has resulted in overgrazing and resource
According to the federal plan designed to recover wolf
populations in the Northern Rockies, the reintroduction of wolves
last spring was to be the first of five releases. But wolf
advocates contend that the current political shenanigans of Sen.
Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), a longtime opponent of wolf recovery,
threaten future releases as well as the ability of federal
agencies to protect the wolves already introduced.
In an amendment to the Interior appropriations bill, Burns cut
critical funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's already
pinched budget and may stall the recovery process entirely.
Buffington said the agency probably won't reallocate funds for
reintroduction unless it receives public pressure to do so. "This
budget cut could prevent wolf recovery in Yellowstone," she
To take action: Contact Mollie Beattie, director, U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, at (202) 208-4717; fax (202) 208-6965 and
demand that reintroduction continue until enough wolves are in
Yellowstone to ensure successful recovery.
For more information: Contact Betsy Buffington at the Northern
Plains Field Office at (307) 672-0425.
Everglades advocates are struggling to get Florida's heavily
subsidized sugar industry to help reverse some of the damage it
has done to the Everglades.
In an attempt to evade the strong directives of a 1991 federal
court ruling that cracked down on water pollution, sugar growers
helped draft the flawed Everglades Forever Act passed by the
Florida Legislature in 1994 [see June 1995 Planet, page 1].
Environmentalists did not support the act because it impairs
federal oversight and will result in the destruction of critical
"The act weakens state water quality standards by suspending
pollution reduction goals," said Sierra Club regional
representative Theresa Woody. "And the delay could be deadly for
Florida's endangered species."
Meanwhile, Florida activists have filed legal briefs urging the
U.S. District Court to hold sugar growers to stricter federal
provisions, and have called publicly for the state's
congressional delegation -- and specifically Sen. Bob Graham (D)
-- to stop the assault on clean water. Environmentalists say
Graham reneged on a deal to secure a two-cent-per-pound
assessment on Florida sugar growers to help fund Everglades
restoration and that to date, Big Sugar's contribution will cover
only 23 percent of projected cleanup costs.
"We've called upon Graham to secure more money from polluters,"
said Woody, "but the 104th Congress seems unable to reform the
sugar price support program because it can't wean itself from the
campaign contributions it receives from the industry.
"Overproduction of sugar undermines Florida's economic and
environmental future," Woody added. "Our elected representatives
need to stop backing sugar's interests and start backing the rest
To take action: Contact your representative and senators and
urge them to support an assessment of two cents per pound on
Florida sugar barons to increase the industry's contribution to
For more information: Contact Theresa Woody at the Florida
regional office at (407) 689-1380; or Craig Diamond, Florida
Chapter Everglades issue chair, at (904) 422-2910.
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