The Third Wave of Conservationism Hits Washington

With today’s launch of the Great Waters Coalition, the nation’s conservation movement matures into its third and hopefully most powerful wave to ever hit Washington. This morning, on Capitol Hill, representatives of more than 30 organizations working to restore this nation’s waters will launch the first ever national restoration movement.

The Great Water’s Coalition includes the Chesapeake Bay, Coastal Louisiana, the Everglades, the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Maine, Long Island Sound, the Mississippi River, Puget Sound, San Francisco and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. We are at a time in the history of this planet when these ecosystems are on the verge of collapse and the formation of this national coalition is meant to capture Congress’ attention while fighting for money to restore this nation’s great waters.

“America is beginning to wake up and understand you can’t just throw these ecosystems away without feeling an impact on our food, our enjoyment…they are part of our heritage. By working together we can and we will do more than we ever could do separately,” the National Wildlife Federation’s CEO Larry Schweiger said at a conference held this summer to consider forming this coalition.

Last June, representatives from numerous US restoration efforts – including the HOW Coalition – met in New Orleans to discuss creating a Great Waters Coalition. Since the conference, people representing various restoration projects have been meeting in committees to establish parameters for a coalition. The result: nine of this nation’s largest water ecosystems in 27 states are joining forces to speak with a united voice to Congress and the White House in an effort to restore these waters and protect the people, wildlife and the economy that they support.

“The sum of you is greater than your parts,” said former Council on Environmental Quality Associate Director Bill Leary, at a panel on Great Waters, “you represent nine of the largest ecosystem restoration efforts in this country…your ecosystems are home to over 125 million people and that is 40 percent of the population. That is a lot of people and a lot of voters.” With such a big voting block on Capitol Hill it would be easy to imagine a Great Waters Congressional Caucus that is focused solely on restoration efforts. The possibilities that this team of players can inspire is endless.

“I believe a national ecosystem coalition is an idea that’s time has come,” said Leary.

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