Establishment of the Natural Resource Investment Center will make federal dollars go further for fish and wildlife
This morning, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that her department will establish a Natural Resource Investment Center, an initiative meant to spur public-private partnerships that will help increase investments in water conservation, habitat improvements, and critical water infrastructure. One of the Center’s primary objectives will be to facilitate water exchange in the Western U.S. in partnership with local, state, and tribal governments—an idea championed by sportsmen and women in recommendations to federal agencies following the White House Drought Symposium in July.
“I commend Sec. Jewell for creating the Natural Resource Investment Center to bring about more collaboration and identify new, non-federal funding sources that make existing investments in conservation go even further,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, one of the organizations responsible for this summer’s White House Drought Symposium and a set of drought recommendations endorsed by hunting and angling groups. “Clearly, the administration is taking the concerns of hunters and anglers seriously and responding to the increasing threat of drought in the United States. I’d urge decision-makers to continue working with sportsmen and women, the original conservationists, on the drought solutions we’ve proposed, which are aimed at providing water to cities and farms without sacrificing the needs of fish and wildlife.”
Scott Yates, director of Trout Unlimited’s Western Water and Habitat program, issued the following statement in response to Jewell’s announcement: “We are pleased that the administration is giving water stakeholders in the West more tools for creatively responding to the challenges of drought and a changing climate. These challenges present tremendous opportunities to modernize our infrastructure and manage demand in ways that add flexibility to our water systems while promoting healthy river flows and fish habitat.”
In a press release, the Department of the Interior listed one example of the type of creative partnerships the Center hopes to identify: An investment in enhancing greater sage grouse habitat in Nevada, made possible by DOI, Barrick Gold of North America, and The Nature Conservancy. “Though the greater sage grouse was not listed for Endangered Species Act protection this fall, full implementation of federal, state, and voluntary conservation plans is absolutely critical and cannot be compromised,” says Fosburgh. “So, we’re grateful that the Center will focus on these types of creative solutions to effect landscape-level conservation for this bird and other species.”
The Center is part of President Obama’s Build America Investment Initiative, which “calls on federal agencies to find new ways to increase investment in ports, roads, water and sewer systems, bridges, broadband networks, and other 21st-century infrastructure projects.” To learn more about the Natural Resource Investment Center, visit doi.gov.