Senators Whitehouse and Baucus make natural resource adaptation a priority

Letter to Boxer stresses need to address climate impacts on America’s natural resources

(08/10/2009) -

WASHINGTON – Preparing for the impacts of climate change on America’s natural resources needs to be a priority for Congress, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Max Baucus asserted in a letter sent on Friday to Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW).

Both Senators referenced examples of how climate change is already negatively impacting their states, from thinner snowpack and reduced stream flow in Montana to increasing loss of cold water species such as flounder in Rhode Island. These impacts are translating into direct, negative implications for the health of our communities and the strength of the economy.

“Defenders of Wildlife is grateful for the leadership shown by Senators Whitehouse and Baucus in sending a clear message that it is not merely enough to focus on the causes of global warming; we must also address the impacts that are already being seen on the ground,” said Robert Dewey, vice president for government relations. “We hope that EPW will recognize the need to respond to the strain that global warming is having on natural resources critical to our health and livelihood, and will incorporate the language suggested by the Senators.”

The Senators urged EPW to include adaptation provisions in the drafting of climate legislation; provisions that include the development of a coordinated national strategy and state-specific adaptation plans that would guide spending decisions to ensure that dedicated resources are effectively utilized to safeguard American’s wildlife and natural resources from the impacts that global warming is already having at the federal, state and local levels.

"Hunters and anglers from across the country, especially those of us in Montana, thank Senator Baucus for his leadership on this issue," said Land Tawney, Senior Manager for Sportsmen Leadership at the National Wildlife Federation. "We urge the Senate to follow the framework of this letter and dedicate 5% of the total allowance value in climate change legislation to safeguard the fish, wildlife, lands and waters that provide the foundation of our outdoor heritage."

“Global warming is already stressing the wildlife in America’s national parks, making the availability of food, water, and shelter less certain,” said Mark Wenzler, director of clean air and climate programs at National Parks Conservation Association. “Investments that safeguard clean water, clean air, and natural spaces from the effects of climate change will benefit not just wildlife but rural communities across America.”

“Even if we stopped emitting all greenhouse gas pollution today, we would still feel the impacts of climate change for decades to come. The nation’s natural resources, economic stability and way of life face serious threats from our changing climate,” said Robert Bendick, Director of US Government Relations at The Nature Conservancy. “We must protect and strengthen our natural systems so they can overcome the impacts of climate change and continue to support America’s iconic wildlife and provide American families with the food, water, shelter and income we all rely upon for survival.”

This language is a critical first step towards ensuring that the funding and planning necessary to safeguard America’s ecosystems, wildlife and natural resources from the worst impacts of climate change are put in place before we reach the point of no return.

Letter can be read at:


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.  With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come.  For more information, visit

National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

National Parks Conservation Association, with half a million members and activists, works to protect and enhance America’s National Park System for present and future generations. NPCA’s new report, “Climate Change and National Park Wildlife: A Survival Guide for a Warming World,” is available at

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.  To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at



Erin McCallum, Defenders of Wildlife, (202)772-3217
Derek Brockbank, National Wildlife Federation, (202)797-6666
Mark Wenzler, National Parks Conservation Association, (202)255-9013
Karen Foerstel, The Nature Conservancy, (917)652-2642

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