|By PR Newswire||
|September 20, 2012 05:24 PM EDT||
Funding for Community Fish and Wildlife Involvement Program cut in half
TORONTO, Sept. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) is outraged that the provincial government is poised to slash funding for the Ministry of Natural Resources' (MNR) Community Fisheries and Wildlife Involvement Program (CFWIP) by nearly 50 percent, putting an unceremonious end to hundreds of volunteer-driven community-based conservation projects.
"OFAH first sounded the alarm in 2006 when the province announced plans to cut funding for CFWIP in half, from $1 million to $500,000. Then Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay, clearly saw the benefit of continuing to fund this flagship environmental program and the decision was overturned. It would appear however, that the Liberal government never had any intention of funding the program over the longer term, preferring instead to put it on the back burner and wait for it to boil dry. This is an insult and a slap in the face to the tens of thousands of volunteers who strive to improve the province's environmental footprint," said OFAH Executive Director Angelo Lombardo. "Unfortunately, this is likely only the tip of the iceberg, given the Ministry's mandate to cut tens of millions from its budget over the next three years. For a government that claims to be concerned about the environment, turning its back on grassroots conservation work is hypocrisy at its best."
CFWIP is a cost sharing program that, every year according to the MNR, inspires more than 35,000 volunteers to spend over 200,000 hours getting their hands dirty with 600 on-the-ground projects such as stream restoration, fish stocking, tree planting, erosion control, and spawning bed and fish ladder construction. CFWIP funding has been used to build nesting structures for birds, and school groups have benefited from CFWIP to turn schoolyards into more natural environments. A majority of the programs are located in smaller rural areas, and almost half in northern Ontario.
"You can't put a price on the dedicated volunteers who work to clean up and enhance the environment, but in this case, the government is doing just that. This strikes at the Ministry's core mandate, and undermines the province's much heralded Biodiversity Strategy, that outlines four key factors imperative to conservation in the province, which includes engaging people. The decision to cut funding to CFWIP is detrimental to the environment and stewardship, and makes a mockery of that strategy."
SOURCE Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters