TRCP, Labor Unions Urge Leaders to Heal Habitat While Healing Economy

Conservationists advocate plan for improving natural resources, job market via stimulus package

WASHINGTON – In a joint letter, the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today called on Senate leaders to swiftly pass an economic stimulus package that includes an expanded habitat restoration work force.

The groups’ letter identifies a lineup of “shovel-ready” programs and projects that can create new and necessary jobs whose goal would be to benefit fish and wildlife resources.
The majority of these initiatives already have undergone the requisite environmental reviews could be launched within a matter of months.

Improvements to fisheries habitat are a central theme in the groups’ funding request.
Mindful that wild fish stocks nationwide are depressed by the numerous unnecessary barriers to fish passage, the groups highlight several different federal programs designed to remove obsolete dams and culverts, along with aquatic debris. These include the NOAA Open Rivers Initiative, the USDA Small Watershed Dam Removal and Rehabilitation Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fish Passage Program, and road maintenance programs administered by the Forest Service and Department of Transportation.

The conservation partners point to an expansion of the Army Corps of Engineers effort to restore the country’s most productive and diverse inland fishery, the Mississippi River, as another key way to simultaneously aid the environment and the economy.

The groups also recommend increased funding for numerous other habitat improvement ventures, such as the abandoned mine reclamation programs run by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service, as well as the implementation of the National Fire Plan.

“The American landscape and the American economy both need boosts,” said Mark H. Ayers, President of the Building and Construction Trades Department. “We are highlighting a number of programs in various federal agencies that can get more than 150,000 jobs on the ground doing good work for our communities.”

“America’s labor unions and contractor associations are chock full of conservation-minded sportsmen,” said TRCP President and CEO George Cooper. “They’ve worked with us to launch the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, a first-of-its-kind club that has changed the dynamic of the hunting and fishing community. By working together, we’ve already been able to reap positive returns, such as the inclusion of the Open Fields program in the Farm Bill. In the stimulus package, we have another opportunity to give both the economy and the environment a measure of what they need. We strongly urge Congress to seize it.”

The Building and Construction Trades Department is an alliance of 13 national and international unions who collectively represent 2.5 million skilled craft workers
in the United States and Canada.

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.