nsure that our children and grandchildren will have the fortune of living in a prosperous, beautiful and healthy nation.
Those are not “either/or” choices; if we are smart and work together, we can do both. Proper and consistent use of mitigation is one of the keys to doing that.
Companies are also increasingly interested in mitigation as a strategy. It saves them time and money and reduces uncertainty, permitting delays, and the risk of litigation. This is especially true if it is approached at the landscape scale, focuses first and foremost on avoidance, and is considered in a collaborative manner very early on in the development process.
Applying mitigation at a landscape scale is particularly smart because it allows more effective engagement with state and local governments and helps avoid of the loss of key natural resources with multiple recreational, environmental and other public benefits. When compensation is needed despite efforts to avoid and minimize harm, a landscape approach helps ensure that the compensation is both effective and lasting.
We encourage the secretary to call on all Department of the Interior agencies to use their existing mitigation authorities within the many efforts currently underway to ensure robust mitigation outcomes that will conserve critical public resources.
In short, increasing and improving the use of mitigation is not a boring detail, but rather an important step recognizing that it is possible to accommodate needed investment in energy, transportation and water management while at the same time protecting the nation’s most critical natural resources that our economy and the quality of our lives depend upon.
In other important news, the secretary reiterated her support for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which supports national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, rivers and lakes, community parks, trails and more in all 50 states.
We’ve long viewed LWCF as a common-sense and critical conservation program. It balances the use of one natural resource — oil and gas — with the conservation of another by using a portion of drilling fees to protect important land and water resources. But despite an increase in energy production, funding for land and water protection has been low and unpredictable. Full funding for LWCF would go a long way in addressing that imbalance.
Finally, Jewell also announced an initiative “to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors.”
I couldn’t agree more with her focus on educating and involving America’s young people in conservation, and I’m proud of our own efforts at The Nature Conservancy to engage younger generations.
Getting it right on things like mitigation and strong funding for LWCF — efforts that balance human needs with the need to conserve nature — is a great way to start ensuring these younger Americans can be inspired by nature, and realize its very practical value to their lives.