WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, this week introduced a bill to protect the country’s wildlife and natural resources from climate change.
Building on existing federal, state, and local efforts, Whitehouse and Cartwright’s “Safeguarding America’s Future and Environment (SAFE) Act” would establish an integrated national approach to ongoing and expected effects of extreme weather and climate change.
“Climate change poses an immediate and long-term threat to the natural resources and environmental landscape that so many local communities depend on. Preparing for climate change will reduce long-term costs and protect our nation’s natural resources for future generations,” Cartwright said in a news release.
Cartwright, vice chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, added: “This bill will develop a climate change adaption plan to protect our lands and waters, such as the Delaware River and Pocono Mountains.”
Whitehouse said responsible management of natural resources underpins economic opportunity and quality of life for all communities.
“In Rhode Island, we know how important it is to safeguard natural treasures like Narragansett Bay and our beautiful coastline, which drive our economy and make our state a wonderful place to live,” Whitehouse said. “This bill would establish a nationwide strategy to build on the good work Rhode Islanders and Americans everywhere are doing to protect their environment from climate change and prepare for what’s to come.”
The SAFE Act would require federal natural resource agencies to form an inter-agency working group to plan and implement a long-term national climate change adaptation strategy based on the best available science. State, local, and tribal governments, as well as nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, and private sector representatives, would be called upon to lend their expertise to the working group.
The legislation would require agencies to work together to identify and prioritize specific conservation and management strategies and actions to respond to extreme weather and climate change. It would also encourage the development of state-specific adaptation plans.
This national strategy would guide federal adaptation plans and reduce redundancy and costs. The SAFE Act would also create the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, which would develop and compile scientific information on climate variability.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, said last year there was widespread destruction of habitats by catastrophic fires, floods, and hurricanes that were worsened by our warming climate.
“We need to prepare for the real impacts of climate change, and the SAFE Act provides a road map to conserve our irreplaceable natural resources in the face of these threats,” Clark said. “We need to manage our forests, waters, and wetlands to withstand the onslaught of a warming planet.”
Endorsing organizations include Defenders of Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Wild, Winter Wildlands Alliance, American Rivers, National Wildlife Federation, Conservation Northwest, American Society of Landscape Architects, Climate Resilience Fund, and the Wildlife Society.
Pa.’s new online offerings
to help seniors age at home
Gov. Tom Wolf this week touted two new initiatives aimed at helping Pennsylvania seniors age at home.
The first — the PA Link to Community Care website — was launched to connect older Pennsylvanians to services and supports available in their community.
The second — Community HealthChoices (CHC) — will launch in the southwest part of the state in January to provide seniors and others with coordinated community care.
“Everyone deserves the right to age at home if they choose to,” Wolf said in a news release. “The initiatives my administration has been putting together to help seniors stay in their homes offer options to make a smart decision about services.”
PA Link to Community Care provides users with a wide variety of resources, including a home care directory that connects individuals to in-home services available in their county. More than 350 in-home service providers appear on the searchable directory.
Department of Aging launches
new season of senior programs
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging recently kicked off season four of MindMatters — a monthly series for older Pennsylvanians — thanks to a partnership with the WITF-TV station.
“Research confirms that mental exercise is just as critical as physical exercise in keeping our brains fit and healthy,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne in a news release.
MindMatters features intellectually stimulating lectures by academics and experts on topics such as history, current events, politics, culture, gardening and healthy living. To foster the engagement of older adults in senior community center programs, the MindMatters segments on WITF-TV are designed to be viewed in a group setting and streamed into senior community centers and continuing care retirement communities across the state. The program is offered at no cost to participants.
Prior to MindMatters, senior community centers would pay individuals to travel and present on various topics in person. The cost and logistics of delivering this type of programming made it difficult or sometimes impossible for some centers to provide. Now, senior community centers can choose from over 30 lectures on topics of interest that appeal to their participants.
To date, two episodes from season four have been released — one titled “Milton Hershey and his Enduring Legacy,” and the other, “The Beginnings of Automobile Culture.”
MindMatters is among the 275 GO-TIME projects being undertaken by state agencies to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and preserve and enhance services to the public. Together, these projects have saved $373 million since 2015, officials estimate.
For more information on MindMatters, visit mindmatters.witf.org. For more information on the Department of Aging, visit aging.pa.gov.