CLIMATE CHANGE Position statement
In May 2009, the Boone and Crockett Club's Board of Directors finalized our Climate Change Position Statement.
As a leader in conservation for over 100 years, the Boone and Crockett Club has supported far-reaching conservation policy. Our Nation has benefited from the foresight of great leaders of conservation such as Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, and Aldo Leopold – all of whom were Club members. Through the Club, we have built a system of conservation in North America that has restored wildlife populations and habitat, and is a model for the entire world. In this tradition, the Club seeks a climate change policy that protects and builds on America’s investment in wildlife and habitat, addresses forest and rangeland health, and maintains a strong economy while reducing greenhouse gases.
Therefore, while the Club has not endorsed specific climate change legislation, the following principles must underlie any final legislation.
In principle, climate change policy should:
- Fund habitat mitigation and wildlife population adaptation;
- Accelerate conservation and restoration of forests and rangelands (including grasslands and native prairie) to sequester carbon and prevent uncharacteristic wildfires;
- Invest in energy conservation and technologies that reduce emissions into the atmosphere; and
- Maintain affordable energy sources; ensure that private land fragmentation does not result from higher input costs.
Congress Should Fund and Enhance Habitat Management
While there are many potential uses of funds derived from a climate change regulatory protocol, there are few if any of these uses that will deliver as many significant public benefits as natural resources adaptation programs. In short, well-functioning ecosystems provide services in the form of clean water, clear air, and other benefits that ensure the quality of human life. Ecosystems can significantly capture carbon through sequestration, thus being part of the solution to reducing carbon levels. In addition, functioning ecosystems provide quality habitat for sustaining fish and wildlife, and provide billions of dollars in direct economic benefits. We thus urge Congress to dedicate sufficient climate-derived revenues to state and federal natural resource adaptation planning and programs to meet these goals.
Congress Should Include Funding for Rangeland and Forest Carbon Sequestration and Restoration Activities
Healthy growing forests and rangelands (including grasslands and native prairie) are highly effective at sequestering carbon and converting it to biomass. Restoring forest and rangeland ecosystems to sequester carbon is cost-effective, and is a superb tool to maintain biodiversity and achieve resource goals, such as improving water quality and habitat, reducing soil loss, and enhancing outdoor recreation. Congress should broadly allow the forestry and agriculture sectors to provide carbon offsets in climate legislation.
Forest and Rangeland Health Imperative
Today’s forest and rangeland fires are both larger and hotter than ever. Insect epidemics, and invasives, are killing millions of acres of trees. The carbon emission implications are staggering. For instance, recent studies show that large wildfires in a western or southeastern state can release carbon equal to 50% of a state’s total fossil fuel emissions. Improving forest and rangeland health and reducing the risk of uncharacteristic wildfires and insect epidemics, therefore, should be an essential component of climate change policy. Improved stewardship contracts and decision processes, including assessments of comparative risks of restoration management versus inaction, will accelerate large projects.
Congress Should Broadly Support Clean Energy
Energy conservation is essential to keeping habitat intact. Energy conservation reduces baseload demand, which in turn reduces the demand for more natural gas and coal extraction—the primary sources of baseload energy. In less densely-populated areas of the nation, it can be difficult to implement energy conservation cost-effectively. Mandates that prove expensive in rural zones can lead to more land conversion that will degrade habitat. Climate legislation should provide economic incentives for energy conservation.
New Energy Supplies
Higher energy costs in rural America raise the cost of land ownership, leading to conversion on the margin, and accelerating land fragmentation. Controlling these costs can reduce habitat declines. With overall US electricity demand expected to increase significantly—about 50%—between now and 2050, Congress needs to ensure that new demand is met by both reliable and renewable sources that are cost-effective and compatible with habitat both in terms of siting and production. New nuclear generation, funding for research of clean coal technology and carbon capture and storage, inclusion of forest biomass, and faster and better regulatory approval processes, will meet this challenge.
Federal forest biomass should count as a source towards a renewable electricity and fuels standards. This will create a strong financial incentive to increase biomass harvesting from public and private forests and contribute to forest health restoration/fire risk reduction programs and efforts.