Monday, March 16, 2009

Tax Checkoff Helps PA's Biodiversity

The Wild Resources Conservation Fund is hoping your state tax refund turns into a better understanding of global warming. We have all seen the river otter licenses plates that help support the fund but many of us have never noticed the other funding mechanism for the effort. At the bottom of the PA 40 income tax form a filer due a refund has the option to send all or a portion of that refund to 5 charities. Last year more than $123,000 was given to the fund. Executive director Greg Czarnecki says the fund is the only program that focuses on Pennsylvania’s native plants and non-game animals through education and research efforts. Czarnecki says among the programs currently being funded is an effort spearheaded by the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, which is tracking golden eagles. He says with the growth of wind farms it is even more important that conservationists understand the flight and migration patterns of the birds. The fund is also in the process of mailing out a set of DVD’s to every public school in the state. The videos are intended to teach 4th graders about biodiversity, endangered species and climate change. Czarnecki says it’s that last item where much of the funds dollars will be spent in the coming years. He says we know that plants and animals will begin to move to higher elevations and further to the north but the paths they may take are not yet know. He says it is important to preserve those paths if we want to preserve the species. Czarnecki says with climate change and suburban sprawl packing a one two punch on plant and animal species it is more important than ever to fund this type of research and education. The Wild Resources Conservation Fund will be dropped from the PA 40 at the end of the year and Czarneki says he hopes the legislature will see fit to approve it for at least another filing season.

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