Notes on Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA)
This fund devotes funds annually from Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil drilling royalties to environmental preservation, land purchases and coastline protection.
As it now stands, subject to further amendment, CARA would distribute the funds to states on the basis of state wildlife grants. These grants are awarded annually.
Originally called the Wildlife Diversity Funding Initiative (WDFI) and then Teaming With Wildlife (TWW), it would have levied a 5% tax on products of the wild bird feeding industry. WBFI has been opposing this approach to funding environmental causes for its entire 15 years of existence.
The WBFI archives provide this information on the 1999 version of Teaming with Wildlife federal excise tax proposed legislation:
BIRD FEEDING INDUSTRY
OPPOSES PUNITIVE TAX
The Wild Bird Feeding Industry joined with other outdoor industries to oppose an excise tax on its products sought by state fish and wildlife agencies.
According to John Donnelly, past president of the Wild Bird Feeding Institute (WBFI), "Our industry strongly supports the goals of wildlife preservation and habitat management. We strongly oppose the punitive tax the Teaming With Wildlife (TWW) initiative would impose on backyard bird feeders, who already contribute actively to wildlife and habitat preservation."
His comments followed a decision by the WBFI board of directors in March 1998 to join the "Teaming Against Taxes" coalition, which includes 20 trade associations representing outdoor products targeted by a TWW tax. Teaming Against Taxes was organized recently in response to stepped up activity to promote TWW by the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. This activity includes hiring a team of high-powered Washington insiders headed by super lobbyist Tommy Boggs. "Teaming with Wildlife proposes to tax products used in outdoor recreational activities that deplete or use wildlife habitat", Donnelly stated. "Backyard bird feeders only seek to enjoy watching and feeding wild birds, at their own expense, on their own property, while in no way using or depleting wildlife or habitat."
Donnelly stated that "Our industry supports voluntary, incentive-based programs for supporting wildlife habitat management, including the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. WBFI also supports many activities including Partners in Flight and is participating in efforts to create a Bird Conservation Fund."
Donnelly concluded that "A Teaming with Wildlife tax is the wrong way to support a worthwhile goal. State wildlife agencies should seek increased funding from their state budgets - - 30 of which have surpluses - - or compete for federal tax dollars with other programs."
The Wild Bird Feeding Institute is the North American trade association for companies involved at all levels of the backyard bird feeding hobby, which is enjoyed by more than 50 million Americans.
A letter to Republican legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives addresses this issue clearly.
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