White House Selects Multi-Species Conservation Program as Exemplary Initiative for National Conference on Cooperative Conservation

Media Contact: Lorri Gray, 702-293-8555
Colleen Dwyer, 702-293-8420

For Release: August 24, 2005

The Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program has been selected as an outstanding example of a successful conservation partnership, and will be showcased at the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation in St. Louis, Missouri, on Monday, August 29.

The MSCP is a 56-entity partnership that includes local and state governments and governmental agencies; Indian Tribes; water and power users; conservation organizations and others in Nevada, California and Arizona. It anticipates potential changes on the lower river during the next 50 years and puts mechanisms in place now to meet future management challenges in advance of potential conflicts.

The U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency are co-hosting the conference, which runs from August 29 -31. Five cabinet secretaries are invited to attend the national assembly, which aims to strengthen conservation partnerships with states, tribes and communities and expand citizen stewardship initiatives.

"The Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program is a proactive, forward-looking plan to protect species and support economic prosperity in the lower Colorado region," said Jerry Zimmerman, Executive Director of the Colorado River Board of California and Chairman of the MSCP Steering Committee. "The largest river habitat project ever proposed under the Endangered Species Act, the program provides predictability of water availability in the lower Colorado River Basin and long-term protection for plant and animal species on the river as well."

With an estimated cost of $626 million, without indexing, over its 50-year term, the MSCP will create and maintain more than 8,100 acres of new, native habitat to specifically benefit six endangered species and 20 additional species along 400 miles of the lower river. It also will augment endangered native fish populations in the lower river until a recovery implementation plan can be implemented. An extensive science, monitoring and adaptive management program will ensure the program achieves maximum benefit. The federal government will provide half of the funding, and the partner agencies will provide the other half.

The MSCP presentation, by the program manager and representatives of each partner state, will be at 9:30 a.m. Monday morning, August 29.

This and other case studies will highlight some of the very best examples of cooperative conservation, focusing on what can be achieved when using collaborative strategies to address conservation, natural resource and environmental issues. Presentations include cooperative conservation in metropolitan and rural areas and initiatives that restore and conserve wildlife and habitats in coastal and marine areas.

Through facilitated discussions, participants will then examine some of the most challenging aspects of working collaboratively, including how to build successful partnerships and expand the role of tribes, states and communities in cooperative conservation; how to improve certainty and incentives for landowners; and how to coordinate conservation across different jurisdictions.

President Bush called for the conference last year in his Executive Order directing federal agencies to promote cooperative conservation by actively working in partnership with states, local communities, businesses, non-profit groups and private citizens. The goal is to help empower the American people as citizen stewards to protect and enhance wildlife, lands, and waters across the Nation.

This conference reflects the President's continuing commitment to ensure that the federal government listens to the concerns, ideas and insights of local citizens and works closely with them in restoring and conserving our natural heritage.

In response to the President's call, citizens are coming to the national conference from cities, reservations, and rural towns; from Alaska to Florida, from Maine to California. They represent conservation groups and companies; local, state, tribal, and federal agencies; recreation enthusiasts, ranchers, farmers, hunters and anglers.

The conference will bring together citizens and decision makers who can advance cooperative conservation by identifying ideas for future conservation and environmental policies and initiatives; facilitating the exchange of information and advice for successful partnerships; and institutionalizing cooperative conservation to enhance on-the-ground conservation results.

This is the first White House national conservation conference in four decades. Theodore Roosevelt held the first conference on conservation almost a century ago. Subsequently, Presidents Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson held summits that focused on conservation and stewardship.

Since then the modern edifice of environmental statutes emerged; and our Nation's conservation commitment has grown. Yet these laws and regulations have limits. They can reduce harm to the environment, but they are less well suited to inspiring citizens to actively engage in conservation to restore wetlands, waterways and wildlife. Continued environmental progress in the 21st century must be based on the idea that enduring conservation springs from the actions of citizens -- in their backyards, communities and workplaces -- alone and in partnerships with government.

More information on the conference and registration links is online at http://www.conservation.ceq.gov . For partner perspectives on the program, contact: Jerry Zimmerman, Executive Director, Colorado River Board of California: (818) 543-4676; George Caan, Director, Colorado River Commission of Nevada: (702) 486-2670; Bill Werner, Arizona Department of Water Resources: (602) 417-2400.

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