Ohio: DEWINE BACKS WILDLIFE FUNDING

June 2, 2002

By Dave Golowenski
outdoors@dispatch.com
For The Dispatch
2002 The Columbus Dispatch
 
Sen. Mike DeWine separated himself from the Ohio congressional delegation
when he signed on with a group of federal lawmakers supporting an increase in
funding for a federal wildlife grants program.

DeWine, a Republican, joined 26 senators and 57 representatives in backing a
proposal that would boost funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants
Program, begun two years ago, from $85 million to $150 million. The program
provides money, based on land and population, to the states for wildlife
conservation.

The Bush administration, meanwhile, wants to reduce funding for the grants
program by $25 million, to $60 million.

Hailed as a bipartisan effort by the International Association of Fish and
Wildlife Agencies, which represents fish and wildlife agencies in all 50
states, the increase got most of its support from Democrats.

DeWine was one of seven Republican senators -- and the lone Ohio lawmaker
from either party -- who signed on to a letter sent to appropriations
committees in both Houses. Among congressional members, the split was 36
Democrats, 20 Republicans and one independent.

The grants allow states to develop programs that are designed to help stave
off the extinction of threatened or endangered plants or animals. Nationally,
more than 1,000 species are considered endangered. Of Ohio's 654 wildlife
species, 19 are on the federal list of endangered species and 77 make the
state list. Another 46 are categorized by the state as species of "special
concern.''

While state wildlife agencies are criticized by some people, who say too much
attention is paid to animals that are hunted and fished, other species are on
the radar screen when project money becomes available. In Ohio, for example,
restoration of rattlesnakes, butterflies and ospreys are among numerous
wildlife species getting attention.

The letter signed by DeWine and others argued that "it is in the federal
interest to provide funding for the states so that future listings under the
Endangered Species Act will not be needed ... The amount of federal dollars
now needed to protect and/or restore (endangered species) is far greater than
would have been required to prevent their decline in the first place.''

While on one hand praising the effort made by the politicians, a leader of
the wildlife agencies association said the money requested falls far short of
the $1 billion required.

"Adequate funding is vital to achieve real on-the-ground results,'' said R.
Max Peterson, the association's executive vice president.

PARTING SHOTS -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering more than
2,000 digitized and copyright-free images of plants, animals and miscellany
in both high and low resolutions at the following Web site: images.fws.gov/

http://libpub.dispatch.com/cgi-bin/documentv1?DBLIST=cd02&DOCNUM=23881&TERMV=1

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