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Apr 26 07

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Help choose Canada’s Seven Wonders!

This week CBC launched the Seven Wonders of Canada competition, asking Canadians to nominate their top Canadian wonder. CPAWS canvassed staff and volunteers to ask for their top picks.  We hope you\'ll consider nominating them by visiting the CBC website.

Here are the sites we nominated:

Nahanni, NWT

Nahanni National Park Reserve and World Heritage Site is Canada\'s most renowned northern boreal wilderness area, and home to wildlife such as woodland caribou, grizzly bears, Dall\'s sheep, and peregrine falcons.

Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, AB and BC

Truly Canadian emblems, Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay national parks evoke passion and wonder with their towering jagged peaks, rolling alpine meadows, glacier-fed streams and turquoise waters. Designated a World Heritage Site, this premier destination spot is home to grizzly bears, wolves and soaring eagles.

Three Rivers, YT

The Yukon\'s Three Rivers - the Snake, Wind and Bonnet Plume -- are nestled within the Peel Watershed and anchor two of our country\'s extraordinary natural regions – the boreal forest that cloaks northern Canada like a green mantle, and the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor – an important mountainous refuge for some of the world\'s largest populations of grizzly bears, wolves and eagles.

Gwaii Haanas, BC

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve within the Queen Charlotte Islands off the BC coast is home to the Haida First Nations. The Queen Charlottes are often referred to as the ‘Canadian Galapagos\' because of the number of unique species only found there.

Canada\'s woodland caribou

One of Canada\'s most well-loved iconic species, this emblematic creature that graces our quarter is threatened with extinction but we can still save it by protecting our vast intact Boreal forests and wetlands.

Algonquin Park, ON

Ontario\'s oldest provincial park, Algonquin Park is a sought-after paddling and camping destination and home to red wolves pine marten and black bears that has offered generations of urbanites their first experience of Canada\'s wilderness landscape.

Athabasca Sand dunes, SK

Rising suddenly from Saskatchewan\'s boreal forest on the shore of lake Athabasca, the spectacular Athabasca sand dunes are home to 52 species of rare plants.

Apr 20 07

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CPAWS Wildlands League issues warning about “green” east-west power corridor
TORONTO -- In response to today\'s planned Green Power Corridor Summit in Ottawa, a leading Ontario conservation group is warning caution about a proposed east-west mega hydro corridor that would bisect Ontario\'s intact Boreal Forest. CPAWS Wildlands League, a chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, warns that building a mega hydro corridor accompanied by roads would permanently remove forests and fragment intact Boreal ecosystems.

"We want Canadians to know that this project is not a panacea. It must be approached with caution," says Anna Baggio Director, Conservation Land Use Planning for CPAWS Wildlands League." Canada\'s Boreal Forest is the largest terrestrial storehouse of carbon on the planet. "Protecting the carbon stored in intact Boreal Forest ecosystems must be part of the plan for any new resource development project," Baggio adds.

The proposed corridor would transmit power between Manitoba and Ontario cutting through a broad swath of Ontario\'s Northern Boreal region. CPAWS Wildlands League urges governments to proceed with caution and says the construction of a corridor must meet the following conditions:

  • The project must demonstrate that it is better than alternatives.  Ontario needs a long-term energy strategy that addresses how we are going to transition from the current mix of sources to a sustainable energy future. Ontario is just beginning to explore options for conserving energy and the potential of renewable energy to augment supply. These options should be exhausted before plans that could destroy fragile northern ecosystem are trumpeted as "green" alternatives.
  • Routes for the project should be considered through already fragmented landscapes before intact ones are permanently disturbed and opened up for further industrialization.
  • If fragmenting the intact Boreal ecosystem of Ontario is determined after exhausting all other options, then it should proceed only AFTER conservation-based land use planning determines how to protect the region\'s ecological integrity.
  • The carbon implications of this project must be fully accounted for.  This includes calculating the impacts of permanently disrupting carbon-rich peatlands and intact Boreal Forests.
  • Aboriginal Peoples have constitutionally protected rights which require governments to fully consult and accommodate their rights, interests and concerns in advance of planning and construction.
Background- Is this green power or brown power?

To be green, power must meet or exceed the ecological bar on two counts -- how and where it is produced.

How power is produced dictates how damaging to the environment it is. Where power is produced is equally as important in deciding whether power is green. There are two components to be considered, where the power source is and how far it is from market or end user. Green power facilities can only be sited after completion of a comprehensive land use plan taking into consideration all land uses, including impacts to species and vegetation. In addition, to be truly "green", facilities must be constructed close to the end user. Why? Long transmission corridors and transportation of power can be as damaging to the environment and as inefficient as a heavy power production footprint.

For further information: Anna Baggio, (416) 453-3285,
www.wildlandsleague.org

Apr 17 07

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CPAWS-Nova Scotia scores another win

The Nova Scotia government has just passed a new piece of legislation that enshrines into law a 50% targeted expansion of the current system of protected areas in Nova Scotia over the next few years.

The Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act sets in law a target of 12% of the Nova Scotia landmass as legally protected by 2015. Currently, only about 8% of the province is designated as protected areas. The Act also requires yearly reporting to the legislature on progress toward achieving the 12% target. The Nova Scotia government has previously announced a 12% target but has never before enshrined this goal in legislation.

CPAWS-NS has long been advocating for an expansion to the current protected areas system and our chapter participated directly in the legislative process for this Bill by testifying in front of the Law Amendments Committee on April 10th. In Nova Scotia, there is a unique process in place where any member of the public can propose amendments to a new piece of legislation while it is being debated in the House, between second and third reading.

CPAWS-NS was successful at inserting a clause into the new Act that clearly defines "legally protected" as sites that contribute to biological conservation goals, such as wilderness areas, nature reserves, and national parks. This was to avoid having certain types of protected areas included in the 12% that do not exclude industrial activities, such as game sanctuaries (which are extensively clearcut in Nova Scotia).

The Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act also sets a number of targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, developing a no net loss policy for wetlands, increasing the use of alternative energies, and reducing certain types of pollutants, in addition to that of the protected areas target.

CPAWS-NS will now be recommending specific high-value conservation sites for the expanded protected areas system.

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Contact:
Chris Miller
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Apr 17 07

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Conservatives add hot air to climate problem in Ontario
TORONTO - Today a leading conservation group criticized the Ontario Progressive Conservatives for its failure to include forest protection in its newly released climate change plan  for Ontario. "Good climate change plans must include forest protection as a complementary strategy to emissions reductions, otherwise we risk building a massive carbon debt by logging the carbon rich Boreal Forest," says Janet Sumner Executive Director, CPAWS Wildlands League.

It is estimated that more than 200,000 hectares of Ontario\'s public forests are logged each year - an area more than three times the size of the entire City of Toronto. By removing the vast amounts of carbon stored in the trees, scientific estimates suggest that these logging and associated disturbance activities release the equivalent of 15 MT of CO2 each year. Protecting the carbon stored in intact Boreal Forest ecosystems must be an important part of any response to global warming.

"Ontario could prevent 7 MT of CO2 from going into the atmosphere by protecting the last vestiges of woodland caribou habitat in the commercial Boreal Forest in the province right now," adds Sumner. "Ontario should also be incorporating a carbon accounting framework into all its resource development decisions. This is an essential component of land use planning before development that is needed in the Northern Boreal Forest."

The Ontario Progressive Conservative\'s climate change plan is hard on targets matching the BC plan 10 per cent by 2020 and 60 per cent by 2050. However, the plan does not provide detailed emission reduction action plans for transportation, housing or any large industrial emitters; choosing instead to focus on what government departments can do to minimize energy use from government buildings and reduce emissions from the government fleet.

The approach favoured by John Tory is also to invite more consultation on sector by sector emission reductions. "This is just adding more hot air to the climate issue in Ontario," says Sumner, "The public wants action not endless consultation on this issue. It is unfortunate Mr. Tory didn\'t use the opportunity to provide leadership on the number one issue for Canadians," Sumner adds.

Hundreds of emission reduction actions have already been identified through two rounds of federal government stakeholder consultations and more again through the provincial government consultations held late last year.

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For more information, please visit www.wildlandsleague.org or contact:
Janet Sumner, Executive Director,
CPAWS Wildlands League,
(416) 971-9453 ext 39 or
416-579-7370 cell

Apr 16 07

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CPAWS national tour underway to promote Yukon wilderness conservation

CPAWS’ 12 city tour featuring the Three Rivers, the Wind, the Snake and the Bonnet Plume in the Yukon’s Peel watershed kicked off April 11 in Montreal. By May 17 it will have visited 12 cities from coast to coast.  During each show, Yukon conservationist Juri Peepre shares stories and spectacular still and video footage of trips taken down the rivers in the summer of 03 by Canadian artists, members of the Gwitchin First Nations and conservationists, all in the cause of protecting this pristine yet threatened part of Canada’s Boreal wilderness.  

» See tour details 


Apr 02 07

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In memory of Karen Blinkhorn, valued CPAWS staff member

Daughter, sister, aunt, colleague. CPAWS-BC communications coordinator from 2004 – 2007. Died March 26 en route to Samburu National Park, Kenya in a traffic accident, aged 33. 

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Karen Blinkhorn loved life to the fullest and up until the day she died, it loved her right back. A passionate environmentalist and talented communicator who was also known for her commitment to “knitting the perfect sock”, Karen was taken tragically and far too young from her family, friends and colleagues who loved and valued her deeply. 

To niece Emily, 11 and nephew Jordan, 12, Aunt Karen was their “Indiana Jones”. Their adored aunt had traveled more of the world than everyone else in their family combined. The children treasured Karen’s postcards and letters postmarked from Cuba, the Inca trail, England, Greece and every point in Canada.  

When she died, Karen was about to fulfill a life-long dream of seeing the great elephants of east Africa in their remaining natural habitat. She had planned and saved for the safari to Samburu National Park for years. Family and colleagues shared her enthusiasm in the months before her departure as she emailed photos of the amazing nature reserves she planned to visit.  

A close family from southeastern Ontario made even closer by tragedy when Karen’s older brother John died at 19 in 1989,  mother Gloria and dad Dave, “little brother” Jim, 31, and older sister Alison are buoyed by memories of the love Karen shared so freely with them, and the outpouring of affection after her death from her friends and colleagues. 

Karen knew what she believed in from a young age. According to Alison, Karen had a strong independent streak and even as a child, she stood up for what she believed was right. Fortunately for her colleagues at the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), Karen’s strong beliefs and spirit moved her to first volunteer in Ottawa and then to seek a job with the organization in British Columbia.  

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After graduating from high school in Athens, Ontario and earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science at the University of Western Ontario, Karen knew she wanted to combine her academic background with her creative skills to benefit wild spaces and conservation. She decided to gain public relations skills, and moved to Ottawa where she completed her diploma at Algonquin College in 2003. 

A skilled writer with the ability to turn “a file folder full of emails and other documents” into a news release or a feature story, Karen blossomed when she became the communications coordinator for CPAWS’ British Columbia chapter. She moved to Vancouver in 2004 to take on the job, and walked daily, rain or shine, from her West end apartment to the downtown office.   

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A gentle soul, quiet and understated, with a dry sense of humour, Karen was always the first to greet colleagues visiting from other CPAWS’ offices with a hug and a query about how they were doing, and she was the one who remembered every office colleague’s birthday. A dedicated chocaholic who spoke of visiting all the best chocolatiers in Paris, Karen was also a vegetarian who loved Vancouver’s Bo Kong Restaurant. But most of all, Karen loved to share a meal with family, friends and colleagues. 

In the years before she died, Karen created websites for CPAWS and other community groups where people could post pictures of their favourite BC parks, or promote the establishment of new protected areas for endangered habitat. She also organized innovative public events to help people re-connect with our country’s great natural heritage.  

Although she lived only 33 years, Karen Blinkhorn’s contribution to wilderness conservation and her love for her family will be felt for generations. Her legacy will live on in a memorial fund CPAWS is establishing for future projects in her name. 

» To make a donation to CPAWS in Karen\'s memory 

» Read more about Karen\'s life at CPAWS British Columbia


Mar 30 07

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No Time to Lose, Extinction is Forever
All political parties urged to put aside politics and ensure Bill passes by summer

Toronto, Ontario - Ontario\'s revised Endangered Species Act proceeded to second reading yesterday. Bill 184 is the result of extensive public and industry consultations carried out by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). With opposition parties now calling for even more delay, Ontario\'s leading environmental groups today are underlining the necessity for quick action.

"It\'s obvious that some special interests want to slow or stop this Bill. This is a win-win piece of legislation for the people of Ontario and its wildlife. If this Bill isn\'t passed in this legislative session, it will likely become extinct, just like many of our treasured species of plants and animals," says Aaron Freeman, Policy Director for Environmental Defence.

The proposed package of new legislation and programs, which includes a new $18 million stewardship fund to assist landowners in protecting wildlife habitat, is intended to provide effective protection for Ontario\'s approximately 200 endangered species and their habitats. Action is urgently needed, say the groups, because for those plants and animals for which trends are known, over 75% are either already gone from Ontario or are on their way to disappearing.

"We have no time to lose," explains Wendy Francis, Director of Conservation and Science for Ontario Nature. "There are about 200 endangered plants and animals in Ontario, which is nearly 40% of all of the endangered species across Canada. In other words, we have the dubious distinction of having the most work to do to protect and recover endangered species. Let\'s get on with it!"

"Politicians come and go, but extinction is forever," adds Janet Sumner, Executive Director of CPAWS-Wildlands League. "Every day that we delay, species like the Woodland Caribou lose more and more of the forests upon which they depend for survival. If certain politicians and interest groups succeed in delaying effective legislation, the public will hold them accountable for exacerbating Ontario\'s endangered species crisis."

The groups point out that the calls for more consultation lack substance. Pre-bill consultation began in May 2006 with a detailed discussion paper distributed to all interested stakeholders. This was followed by a two-month public consultation period required by Ontario\'s Environmental Bill of Rights. Then a nine-member government-appointed panel of scientists and legal experts was struck to identify the best options for a revised Endangered Species Act. It produced a report, which was released to the public for comment in November 2006. Further stakeholder input sessions were then convened, followed by another 30-day public consultation period under the Environmental Bill of Rights in December 2006 and January 2007. Meanwhile, the MNR carried out a separate Aboriginal community consultation process. After all of this, Minister of Natural Resources, David Ramsay tabled the revisions to the Endangered Species Act on March 20, 2007. (The details of the public consultation to date, including a summary of the hundreds of public comments received, is found at: http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/speciesatrisk/input.html and in Environmental Bill of Rights File# AB06E6001 at http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca).

The Bill will soon proceed to Legislative Committee hearings where further public input can be provided.

"We strongly support public consultation and congratulate Minister Ramsay for having done extensive consultation even before the Bill was introduced," says Rob Wright, Counsel for Sierra Legal.  "The Premier and the Minister listened to input from all stakeholders and the advice of the Panel. We look forward to the committee hearings to fine-tune the Bill before it is passed."

"We call on all parties to support Bill 184 - a lifeline desperately needed by Ontario\'s nearly 200 endangered plants and animals," says Rachel Plotkin, Policy Analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation.
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)
Wendy Francis, Ontario Nature, (416) 846-2404
Janet Sumner, CPAWS Wildlands League, (416) 971-9453, ext. 39
Robert Wright, Sierra Legal, (416) 368-7533 ext. 31
Rachel Plotkin, David Suzuki Foundation, (613) 796-7999

About Save Ontario\'s Species (http://www.saveontariospecies.ca): S.O.S. is a collaboration among CPAWS Wildlands League, Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature, Sierra Legal and the David Suzuki Foundation. ForestEthics and Western Canada Wilderness Committee also support the S.O.S. Campaign.

 


 


Mar 27 07

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Report reveals ecological crisis in Ontario’s Boreal Forest

Decades of logging and road building taking toll on intact forest and iconic caribou

TORONTO - Conservation groups are responding to an alarming report released today that highlights a growing ecological crisis in Ontario\'s Boreal Forest. The report, released by Global Forest Watch Canada, documents disturbing changes in Ontario\'s forests from years of destructive industrial activities which are pushing threatened species including the woodland caribou closer to extinction and setting Ontario on a precariously, unsustainable path. The groups urge Premier McGuinty to heed these warnings and bolster his government\'s much anticipated climate change plan with protection of Ontario\'s intact Boreal Forest.

"This report is a clarion call," says Anna Baggio, Director Conservation Land Use Planning of CPAWS Wildlands League, "Here is our opportunity to protect the remaining intact Boreal Forest for caribou and for our grandchildren."

The report follows an urgent call from a long list of celebrities and conservation groups to protect Ontario\'s Boreal Forest to save species and mitigate global warming.

"Protecting the carbon stored in intact Boreal ecosystems must be an important part of any government\'s response to global warming," says Wendy Francis, Director of Conservation and Science for Ontario Nature. "This report warns us that our remaining intact forests -- one of our best hopes for fighting global warming---are clearly under threat."

It is estimated that more than 200,000 hectares of Ontario\'s public forests are logged each year - an area more than three times the size of the entire City of Toronto. By removing the vast amounts of carbon stored in these trees, scientific estimates suggest that these logging activities release the equivalent of 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

"Today\'s report underlines the urgent need for an innovative plan for Ontario\'s Boreal Forest," said Sierra Legal Lawyer & Economist, Dr. Anastasia Lintner. "Create sustainable northern economies. Capture carbon. Protect caribou habitat. Require state-of-the-art forest certification.  These are the cornerstones to economically sound global warming solutions."

"Protecting our Boreal Forests must be a key component of any government climate plan," said ForestEthics\' Boreal Campaigner, Leah Henderson. "Through strong environmental leadership we can capture growing green markets for forest products and protect the earth\'s basic ecosystem services - the air we breathe and the water that we drink."

The following groups support the call for Boreal Forest protection in Ontario: ForestEthics, Greenpeace, Markets Initiative, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ontario Nature, Sierra Legal and CPAWS Wildlands League.

For more information, please visit www.savetheboreal.ca or contact:
Anna Baggio, Director, CPAWS Wildlands League
(416) 453-3285 (cell)
Wendy Francis, Director of Conservation and Science, Ontario Nature
(416) 846-2404
Leah Henderson, Boreal Campaigner, ForestEthics
(647) 883-5983 (cell)
Dr. Anastasia Lintner, Staff Lawyer & Economist, Sierra Legal
(416) 368-7533 ext 25
Nicole Rycroft, Executive Director, Markets Initiative
(250) 725-8050 (cell)


Mar 23 07

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CPAWS-Nova Scotia welcomes provincial action on protected areas

The Nova Scotia government announced Monday that it has acquired $27 million worth of private lands from Bowater Mersey Paper Co. Ltd. in southwestern Nova Scotia for conservation purposes. This transaction represents the largest single purchase of conservation lands in Nova Scotia history.

CPAWS-NS worked to ensure that the acquisitions included the most significant ecological features, especially old growth forest sites, rare species habitat (e.g. Blandings Turtle, coastal plain flora), significant wetlands, coastal areas, frontage on significant waterways, sites adjacent to existing protected areas, and sites important for landscape connectivity.

A total of 29 parcels of high-value conservation lands were acquired, with a commitment from the Premier of Nova Scotia to quickly designate the "significant majority" of these acquisitions as protected wilderness areas or nature reserves. The Premier also announced for the first time that the province would pursue a 12% target for protected areas – a major victory in itself!

This announcement follows almost a year’s worth of work by CPAWS-NS to engage the forest industry directly to expand Nova Scotia’s system of protected areas.

Read the press release on the Government of Nova Scotia\'s site.


Mar 22 07

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Federal budget a step forward for nature conservation: CPAWS

CPAWS, Canada’s only national organization dedicated solely to the protection of public wilderness and natural parks, welcomes recent statements by the Prime Minister and other members of his cabinet that protecting Canada’s natural heritage is an important public duty. We view this week’s federal budget commitments for new protected land and marine areas as a positive step towards establishing a long term federal vision and funding commitment for large-scale wilderness conservation.  

CPAWS has urged adoption of a new federal nature conservation action plan that would place Canada at the forefront in protecting intact wilderness – and form a critical part of our country’s response to climate change. 

The 2007 federal budget provides two year funding commitments for several of the conservation priorities CPAWS has identified for federal action, including $10M over two years to establish protected areas in the Northwest Territories; $19M over two years for oceans management; and $110M over two years to implement the Species at Risk Act. 

“We’re pleased that there is some funding in the budget to advance protection of public wilderness lands and waters. Now the federal government needs to develop a long term wilderness conservation program and provide substantial long term funding to implement it,” said Anne Levesque, National Executive Director.  “For Canada to become a world leader in nature conservation we need to protect much greater swathes of our remaining wilderness than we’ve ever done before. It’s going to take a will to act and funding on a larger scale and over a longer time frame.”  

The $10 million over two years announced for NWT protected areas will support important progress on conserving boreal forest in the Northwest Territories, including the protection of sites such as Sahoyúé ehdacho National Historic Site on Great Bear Lake (for which the federal government announced long term funding on March 11), the Nahanni National Park expansion, the Ramparts wetlands (Ts’ude niline Tu’eyeta), the Horn Plateau (Edéhzhie), and a proposed national park on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake.  CPAWS will be looking for continued progress on protected areas and land use planning in the NWT in the coming weeks and months as well as confirmation of long-term funding to support conservation in the long run. 

For marine conservation, the commitment to establish nine new marine protected areas is a step forward, but the $19 million committed over two years is not nearly enough to achieve this commitment, let alone the overall sustainable development, management, and protection of ocean resources outlined in the budget document. 

“This funding is just a drop in the ocean compared to what’s required. To tackle the ecological crisis facing our oceans requires a large scale, long term vision and funding commitment by the federal government.  We recommended that the federal government invest $600 million over five years to achieve this goal.  We will continue to work to get this level of commitment,” said Sabine Jessen, National Manager, CPAWS Oceans and Great Lakes program.  

The $110 million over two years for implementing the Species at Risk Act is a positive step towards effectively protecting species at risk in Canada. CPAWS recommends that this funding focus on developing and implementing effective recovery strategies that identify critical habitat. 

While CPAWS focuses on public land conservation, we also acknowledge the important contribution that the $225 million federal budget investment in private land conservation will make to protecting species at risk and restoring ecological connections between protected areas in southern Canada. 

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For more information:

Ellen Adelberg

Director of Communications

(613) 569-7226 ext 234 

View CPAWS’ recommendations for a Federal Nature Conservation Action Plan at

www.cpaws.org


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