Though he spends much of his time on issues related to his chairmanship of the House Education and Labor Committee, Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, made time today for members of our wider evolutionary family: gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos, and other great apes.
The House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife held a hearing on Miller’s H.R. 4416, the Great Ape Conservation Reauthorization Amendments Act of 2010, which would reauthorize federal aid to help conserve great ape populations around the world.
“Great apes are our closest non-human relatives on the planet, but the threats they face from people are all too real,” Miller said in a news release. “We have seen the devastation of wild primate populations throughout Africa and Asia. Since the authorization of my great ape bill ten years ago, our relatively small federal investment has been matched by significant local and private funding, boosting efforts to save gorillas and other great apes. We must reauthorize the program to enable these successful programs to flourish.”
Miller authored the original law in 2000 to provide federal funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for international great ape habitat conservation efforts, mostly in Africa and Asia. The FWS awarded more than $4.2 million to 59 projects in 2009, leveraging $4.9 million more from other organizations.
Today’s hearing included testimony supporting the legislation from Obama Administration officials and conservation groups. Interior Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Jane Lyder called Miller’s past and present bills “an excellent example of how to produce focused and efficient means to support the conservation of species that are ecologically important and aesthetically invaluable to the American public and people around the world.”
Miller’s office says he intends to meet next month with world-renowned primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall to discuss the status of great apes around the world.
OK, so, $4.2 million for ape conservation; discuss.