Friday, March 19, 2010

Corps Reform Network meeting in DC

The Corps Reform Network held their annual meeting in Washington DC March 14-17, 2010. Over 70 participants from around the country convened to learn how to influence Corps projects and share their experiences.

The Surfrider Foundation is a member of the Network, as our chapters are affected by the numerous Corps projects around the country. It was good to see that we are not alone in trying to instill sanity into Corps activities that threaten our nation's waterways.

The conference also gave me an opportunity to meet with our legislative representatives as well as key federal staff to discuss the Matilija Dam project.

The Corps Reform Network is a coalition of hundreds of organizations from around the country, supports member groups advocating to ensure that Army Corps of Engineers projects are economically and environmentally sound. As our nation's largest water management agency, the impacts Corps projects have on our environment rival that of any other federal agency or private company.

With the passage of WRDA '07, the Network was successful in passing several measures to 'reform' the way the corps does business. The new law requires the corps to modernize its project planning, strengthen its wetlands mitigation, and independently review certain projects. Unfortunately, the Corps has yet to recognize or implement these changes.

As part of the conference, American Rivers presented the recently released A Citizen's Guide to the Corps of Engineers, downloadable off their website.

The Network was successful in bringing high-level federal agency staff to the meeting to provide an opportunity to hear and discuss the issues. The full agenda may be downloaded, and a summary of the topics is listed below:

Panel Discussion: Improving the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s new proposed ‘Principles and Guidelines’ (P&G) for federal water projects. How you can help influence the new guidelines to better address your water resource needs and challenges.

Panel Discussion: Ensuring Better Management of America’s Floodplains. How do federal policies and programs need to change to better protect people and wildlife?

Keynote Lunch Speaker: Jo-Ellen Darcy – Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works to discuss the direction of the Corps’ civil works and regulatory programs.

Panel Discussion: Community and Environmental Protection in an Era of Global Climate Change. How do we work with nature to adapt to rising seas, changing water cycles and more frequent and intense storms?

A View From the Hill: Congressional Staff from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Appropriations Committee discuss project and policy priorities, and process insights.

White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Listening Session on America’s New Water Policy (P&G Revisions). Corps Reform Network Members will provide their comments on the proposed Principles and Guidelines (P&G) to the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

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