DO YOU CALL FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT?
April 29, 2002
Got an environmental problem you want others to know about? Finding
out whom to write, call, or email about local or regional environmental
problems is one of the most frustrating situations concerned citizens
deal with. For example, how do you find out what the wildlife laws
are and how to enforce them? Where can you get a listing of citizens
groups interested in protecting the environment? These are common
questions people ask these days. The answer to all of them, and many
similar ones, can be found in a single source, the 2002 Conservation
Directory (47th edition), prepared by the National Wildlife Federation
The directory lists organizations, agencies, and officials concerned
with the use and management of natural resources. Included are the
names of each state's senators and representatives to Congress and
chairs of all Senate committees that deal with environmental issues.
In addition, each government department and agency is listed, with
names and addresses of individuals and a description of any of the
unit's environmental missions. For example, under the Department of
the Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration is concerned
with making highways safe, efficient, and economical but also gives
"full consideration to the highway's impact on the environment."
The directory has entries for more than 3,500 international, national,
and regional commissions and organizations. These range from the Alabama
Environmental Council (firstname.lastname@example.org), which is "dedicated
to the preservation of Alabama's environment on all fronts: air, water,
and wildlife," to Zero Population Growth (email@example.com), which
"works to educate and motivate Americans to help meet the global
population challenge." The directory does not editorialize about
the political positions or conservation directions of the programs;
it simply provides contact information for each one.
When checking the current edition of the directory to decide what
"Z" organization to use in my column, I noted the absence
of the Zimbabwe Chapter Federation, which was in an earlier edition.
Upon checking, I found that NWF does not charge for an organization
to be listed in the directory, so an organization's absence is due
to other reasons, such as not submitting proper entry information,
changing an organization's name, or simply going extinct.
Each state is treated separately, with details given about state agencies
that deal with environmental issues. The names, addresses, and phone
numbers of all fish and wildlife commissioners and directors in the
United States and Canada are listed. This is a valuable source of
information for schools, civic organizations, or any group interested
in obtaining information about environmental laws, regulations, and
Also provided for each state and country are the names and missions
of citizen groups involved in environmental matters. If you have a
regional environmental issue you feel deserves attention, you should
be able to find a group that can supply you with more information.
One categorization that is of interest is that non governmental organizations
are separated into two groups: non profit organizations and for profit
ones. The non profits, such as the South Carolina Environmental Law
Project, take up more than 550 pages; the for profits, such as the
Atlanta Audubon Society, take up only 9 pages. I'm not sure what message
this conveys but maybe it's that people feel so strongly about environmental
issues that most organizations can run on a volunteer basis.
The book also contains a listing and locations of federal lands that
result in many of the protected habitats in the country. The United
States now has hundreds of national wildlife refuges administered
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and national forests administered
by the U.S. Forest Service. The names, addresses, and phone numbers
of superintendents of the national parks and seashores are also given.
Disappointingly, the lands of the Department of Defense and Department
of Energy are not singled out, even though military bases and DOE
sites are responsible for vast regions of protected environments across
Printed editions cost $70.00 and are available from the publisher
(Island Press, 800 828 1302). For many environmental groups that would
be money well spent. Another option is the online Conservation Directory
which is a free service. Either way you want to go, this is the source
for finding out the who, what, why, where, and wherefore about environmental
organizations for any occasion.
you have an environmental question or comment, email