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Five Ways You Can Support Climate Change Adaptation

In response to the widespread and overwhelmingly positive responses to the guest editorial by Gary Paul Nabhan in Monday’s New York Times titled The Coming Food Crisis — many people have been wondering what they can do in addition to applying the heat and drought adaptation strategies mentioned in Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land.

Nabhan and some of his colleagues have come up with a list of action.

One of the most critically important efforts you can make is ensuring the wild and cultivate plant diversity is available to heal our foodsheds and watersheds after climatic disruptions and to adapt to hotter and drier conditions. Unfortunately, several key programs that allow effective collaborations among federal agencies, farmers, ranchers, non-profits, and grassroots community groups are threatened with budgetary cuts or closures, as Nabhan mentioned in his op-ed. In addition to voting with your fork for the right kind of food system, contact your Congressional delegation and federal program leaders to express your continuing programs, some of which are now on the chopping block. Good policy and good practices are needed to survive the coming years, and there is no time better than now to ramp up these efforts.

Nabhan, and others, recommend helping these valuable programs as either an advocate, volunteer, or collaborator:

1. Plant Materials Centers of the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service

The 27 Plant Materials Centers play vital roles in collecting and evaluating native plant materials for ecological restoration and reclamation after catastrophic events, and for wildlife and livestock production in many habitats. Despite an outstanding legacy of service in the public interest, several centers are now threatened with closure due to budget cuts. Write your Congressional representatives expressing continuing support for their good work—especially if they are in a district which hosts a plant material center—and copy the letter to the following national staff leaders. See

John Englert, National Plant Materials Program Leader
USDA-NRCS, Ecological Sciences Division
PO Box 2890, Room 6157, South Bldg.
Washington, DC 20013
Phone: (202) 720-0536 | Fax: (202) 720-1814
Email: John.Englert@wdc.usda.gov

Shawn Belt, National Plant Materials Center Acting Manager
USDA-NRCS, Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center
Bldg. 509, BARC-East, Beaver Dam Rd.
Beltsville, MD 20705
Phone: (301) 504-8175 | Fax: (301) 504-8741
Email: Shawn.Belt@md.usda.gov

 

2. Seeds of Success

The Seeds of Success (SOS) program is part of the Federal interagency Native Plant Materials Development Program. It supports and coordinates seed collection of native plant populations in the United States to increase the number of species and the amount of native seed that is available for use to stabilize, rehabilitate, and restore lands in the United States by partnering with the seed producing industry. The program began in 2001 through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for collections on public lands in the West. The need for geographically and ecologically diverse collections from across the United States led to partnerships with eight additional institutions. It and its partners draws upon a number of funding sources, some of which (like NFWF, below) are threatened with closure. Write your Congressional legislation and express support for a broad interagency plant diversity conservation initiative with funding equal to what mammals, birds and fish receive. Copy your letters or emails to the following national leaders.

Native Plant Materials Development Program
Bureau of Land Management Plant Conservation Program Lead
Peggy Olwell Bureau of Land Management
1849 C Street NW, Rm 2134LM
Attention: Peggy Olwell
Washington, DC 20240
Tel: 202-912-7273
Email: polwell@blm.gov

Seeds of Success National Collection Curator Megan Haidet
Bureau of Land Management
1849 C Street NW, Rm 2134LM
Attention: Megan Haidet
Washington, DC 20240
Tel: 202-912-7233
Email: mahaidet@blm.gov

 

3. National Plant Germplasm System

The National Plant Germplasm System holds more than 561,000 accessions of more than 14,800 plant species useful in adapting crops to heat, drought, and other climatic or ecological stresses. Despite its international leadership in plant conservation and many crop-specific climate adaptation projects underway, it is chronically underfunded relative to its significance. Write your Congressional representatives to express continuing support for their good work—especially if they are in a district which hosts a USDA/ARS Plant Introduction Station—and copy the letter to the following national staff leader. You can also check out their holdings and programs online.

Peter K Bretting
Crop Production and Protection
General Biological Science
Plant Germplasm & Genomes
Peter.Bretting@ars.usda.gov
Phone: (301) 504-5541
Fax: (301) 504-6191
Room 4-2212
5601 Sunnyside Avenue
GWCC-BLTSVL
BELTSVILLE, MD, 20705-5139

 

4. USDA Strike Force

Last year, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack launched the StrikeForce Initiative, a cross-agency effort to accelerate assistance to Historically Underserved groups. Through this initiative, USDA is working to ensure all producers have access to programs that can help them thrive, including proven conservation programs. In partnership with local community-based organizations, three USDA agencies—Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency and Rural Development—are working to improve USDA’s outreach to these communities in order to increase their access to—and participation in—these valuable programs. The StrikeForce Initiative is currently being piloted in 12 states stricken by poverty to help farmers, farmworkers, and food microenterprises adapt to changing conditions. Write your Congressional representatives expressing continuing support for their good work—especially if they are in a state which hosts a Strjke Force Initiative.

5. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

After years of supporting national plant species conservation initiatives among agencies and non-profits, NFWF has closed its program and restructured its assets away from plant conservation to animal conservation. Write Executive Director Jeff Trandel and VP for Evaluation Claude Gascon to request they reconsider:

Executive Director and CEO: Jeff Trandahl
VP for Evaluations: Claude Gascon
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
M 1133 Fifteenth St., N.W., Suite 1100
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: 202-857-0166


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