Saturday, November 17, 2012

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation operated on a modest budget  for nearly three decades. Over the next five years, BP will give the foundation nearly $2.4 billion as part of the the $4 billion settlement with the Justice Department announced Thursday stemming from BP’s disastrous 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The foundation — created in 1984 by Senate Republicans seeking new ways to muster conservation funding in the face of Reagan administration budget cuts — is not an environmental advocacy organization. It receives an annual appropriation of about $15 million from the government, along with other federal grants totaling as much as $45 million, and solicits donations of about $16 million a year from private donors and corporations including Wal-Mart, Shell, Southern Co. and the American Petroleum Institute. In its 28-year history, it has been responsible for $2.1 billion in conservation projects around the country, from acoustic monitoring of marine mammals in the Arctic to restoring fish habitat in the Ozarks. The next five years will more than double that figure.

The foundation oversees environmental grants and contracts totaling $75 million to $100 million a year, working with state and federal agencies as well as scientists, environmental groups and landowners to address threats to fish, wildlife and the habitat on which these animals depend.

The money BP will hand over in the course of five years has strings: The Justice Department, which made the decision to put the foundation in charge of the money, included language in the settlement agreement regarding how it will be spent. Half will go to restoring Louisiana’s barrier islands and coastal habitat; the other half will be divided among Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Texas, with the first three states getting equal shares and Texas 16 percent. (Wash Post, 11/16/2012)

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