Friends of Blackwater has signed onto a letter to President-Elect Biden as his team begins to address the COVID-19 public health crisis and develop an economic recovery plan, requesting the creation of long-term conservation and restoration jobs.
The US can overcome this economic downturn while protecting and restoring our unique natural resources, including biodiversity, and our public lands. Restoring wildlife, wild lands and waterways creates jobs for young people, low-wealth communities, and BIPOC individuals, contributes to significant public health benefits for all people. As the new administration begins to plan for the post-pandemic recovery, FOB urges them to direct funding to federal agencies and existing federal grant programs to support the work of state and local governments and agencies, Tribes, public universities, and small businesses to immediately implement the following conservation and restoration projects for the benefit of all.
Prioritizing endangered species recovery:
Every endangered and threatened species would benefit form additional conservation work to further their recoveries. Despite their importance, recovery programs have been consistently and significantly underfunded. A first big step would be for the administration to re-list gray wolves, which were recently de listed and are being slaughtered across their range in the Western US.
Restoring public lands:
Public lands are crucial to the conservation of our wildlife and the well-being of the the American people. Unfortunately, the previous administration allowed many of our public lands and unique habitats to be exploited. FOB urges the Biden administration to prioritize public lands protections, as well as infrastructure maintenance within these parks, refuges, and forests to create significant job opportunities and improve our public lands.
Restoring watersheds and coastal areas:
Water restoration projects have immediate and long term benefits for both local communities and advancing biodiversity resilience. Project funding should prioritize improving water quality (like AMD restoration here in WV!), fish habitat, connectivity, recover endangered species, and serve disadvantaged communities.
Safeguarding key wildlife corridors and reducing impacts to wildlife from infrastructure:
Connecting fish and wildlife habitats, particularly in light of climate change and continued habitat fragmentation as a result of development, is critical to conserve biodiversity. Restoring functional wildlife corridors, minimizing vehicle collisions, and protecting migratory species’ habitats are just a few benefits.
Addressing invasive species and restoring native plants:
Non-native invasive species increasingly are taking over both wild and developed lands, undermining infrastructure and displacing native species which creates extreme expenses and degrades habitat. Addressing this issue, restoring degraded landscapes, and protecting infrastructure is needed, and will create crucial jobs while protecting our shared environment.
Bold investments to stimulate the economy through the restoration of public lands, waters, and wildlife habitat not only have the potential to create a huge workforce, but also to ensure more resilient ecosystems and communities that will result in enduring public health benefits and quality of life improvements. Check out the full letter and list of signers here!