"Audubon has identified numerous shovel-ready and long ignored ecosystem restoration projects. These projects are a win-win because they are a great way to both stimulate the economy through job creation and also improve many degraded parts of the nation.
"Our proposals, including projects to be executed for the Mississippi River Delta, Long Island Sound, and the Everglades, have been vetted and are all ready to quickly create tens or thousands of jobs.
"These stimulus opportunities can help reverse centuries of exploitation and re-engineering that have pushed major aquatic ecosystems near a tipping point where they may no longer be able to support the people, fish, and wildlife that rely on them. The added impacts of sea level rise, salt water intrusion, invasive species, and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events - all being exacerbated by global warming - need immediate attention.
"Let me touch upon some of the highest priorities.
"Coastal Louisiana is the most quickly disappearing land mass on the planet – more than a football field every hour is washing away – every hour more than a football field of land becomes open water! The jobs created through our proposal in LA will be effective in reversing this massive loss of land, while at the same time help rebuild the coastal barrier islands and wetlands complexes that provide wildlife habitat as well as act as horizontal levees to protect people from the disastrous dangers of storm surges we've seen recently with hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, and Ike.
"The Long Island Sound Watershed hosts not only abundant wildlife, but is home to 10% of our nation's population. Restoring habitat and providing the communities in the region with substantial improvements in water quality should be a national priority. Underfunded for too long, our identified projects help put people to work immediately, and also improve wildlife habitat and water quality.
"Restoring America's Everglades, once a web of marsh and prairie covering 4,000 square miles, is far behind schedule. Ninety percent of wading birds are gone and 68 species are threatened or endangered. Continued delays will further endanger the River of Grass and fresh drinking water supplies for South Florida residents, which are under siege from increasing development and the growing threat of global warming. More than $1 billion in Everglades restoration projects are ready for construction, including returning critical flows to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
"While the speakers today have largely emphasized opportunities for green jobs on public lands, we should not overlook successful programs that protect habitat on private lands. It's critical for the Administration and Congress to make a long-term commitment to fund existing programs and implement new approaches focused on supporting restoration activities on private lands such as those funded through the Farm Bill.
"An investment of $3.5 billion in critical ecosystem restoration is anticipated to create 50-75,000 jobs in industries like construction and engineering, while restoring 10s of 1000s of acres of habitat and projecting hundreds of species."
Audubon has posted a fact sheet on ecosystem stimulus projects at http://www.audubon.org/campaign/index.html.
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