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Landmark Legislation to Protect Wildlife Corridors Introduced in the Senate and House

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 6, 2018)—Marking the most significant step toward national wildlife conservation in decades, the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act was introduced today in the Senate by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). If passed, the Act will restore habitat and protect America’s native wildlife by establishing a National Wildlife Corridors Program that facilitates the designation of wildlife corridors on federal lands and provides grants to protect wildlife corridors on non-federal lands.

“Wildlands Network thanks Sen. Udall and Rep. Beyer for their commitment to protecting America’s wildlife,” said Susan Holmes, policy director for Wildlands Network, a nonprofit conservation organization working to establish a continental system of connected wildlife corridors. “From elk to grizzlies to the beautiful monarch butterfly, wildlife needs to move across the landscape to survive. Corridors increase wildlife movement between habitat areas by approximately 50 percent compared to areas not connected by corridors. In the face of climate change, protecting wildlife corridors will ensure America’s treasured wildlife will survive for generations to come.”

Wildlife corridors are critically important habitat areas that allow animals to roam freely from one area of habitat to another for migration, establishing new territories, and finding mates, food and shelter. Linking habitats with wildlife corridors also allows wildlife to adapt to the serious impacts of a changing climate.

“America’s wilderness has sustained our treasured native fish, wildlife and plant species for hundreds of years, but this vital part of our national heritage is in jeopardy,” said Sen. Udall. “The habitats and migration routes that our wildlife rely on to move and thrive are under increasing pressures, and our precious biodiversity along with it. In New Mexico, our millions of acres of public lands are home to thousands of iconic species—from the desert bighorns to whooping cranes to Gila trout—that could vanish if we fail to take bold action. These species are essential to our rich natural inheritance and agricultural and economic success, and are an important legacy to pass on to our children. By designating corridors that would connect these vital habitats to one another, we can ensure the survival of some of our most iconic species, from the monarch butterfly to the Louisiana black bear, and preserve our precious wildlife for future generations to come.”

“With roughly one in five animal and plant species in the U.S. at risk of extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation, one of the simplest yet most effective things we can do is to provide them ample opportunity to move across lands and waters,” said Rep. Beyer.

Much of the danger faced by our most endangered species stems from habitat loss due to fragmentation, climate change, and other causes. The best available science recommends connecting habitats to ensure the genetic strength of both threatened populations and biodiversity as a whole. Based on this sound science, the bill is supported by nationally recognized scientists, including Harvard’s Dr. E.O. Wilson, and over 160 prominent conservation organizations nationwide.

“The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act would provide the most important step of any single piece of legislation at the present time in enlarging the nations protected areas and thereby saving large swaths of America’s wildlife and other fauna and flora, especially in this critical time of climate change and shifting locations of the original environments in which a large part of biodiversity has existed,” renowned biologist E.O. Wilson said of the bill.

The Act grants authority to key federal agencies to designate National Wildlife Corridors on federal public land and creates a Wildlife Movement Grant Program to incentivize the protection of wildlife corridors on non-federal lands. It also establishes a publicly available Wildlife Connectivity Database to inform decision-making.  Through this coordinated approach, the bill would also improve wildlife-related recreational opportunities and has therefore garnered support from major outdoor brands like Patagonia, Osprey Packs and Petzl America.

Wildlife species in need of protected corridors include the pronghorn antelope, an important game species in the Southwest, whose survival depends upon the ability to migrate seasonally. Even small insects like the monarch butterfly need protected corridors to migrate up to 3,000 miles. It can take 3-4 generations to complete a full migration, and without protected places along the flyway for them to rest and reproduce, the species could be lost entirely.

“America needs more tools to protect plants and animals,” stated Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “Wildlife corridors are a no-brainer. They’re a life-saving measure not only because they decrease collisions with cars, but also because they preserve biodiversity and habitats—providing us with clean air, replenishing our drinking water, and supplying a storehouse of potential new medicines.”

“Defenders commends Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Don Beyer for their leadership in protecting America’s diverse wildlife in the face of climate change and a mass extinction crisis.  The legislation they introduced today draws all Americans into the effort to ensure that wildlife can continue to move freely across our nation’s landscapes, as they must to survive,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife.

“The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act will provide a crucial lifeline for many of America’s native species,” stated Rob Ament, Senior Conservationist at the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, “so they can safely move across America’s landscapes to meet their daily, seasonal and lifetime needs.”

Increasingly, wildlife corridors are enjoying bipartisan support around the country. In the last decade, the Western Governors Association and the New England Governors and Canadian Premiers both adopted wildlife corridor protection measures.  Earlier this year, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke issued Secretarial Order 3362, which would improve “habitat quality in Western big-game winter range and migration corridors.” In addition, both red and blue states such as New Hampshire, Wyoming, New Mexico and California have recently passed measures to protect wildlife corridors.

Text of the bill can be read here.

Wildlands Network created a fact sheet for the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act, as well as facts sheets for potential impacts of the bill on specific species, including grizzly bears, monarch butterflies, Louisiana black bears, migratory birds, Florida panthers and pronghorns.

Photos and videos available to the media can be viewed in this Google Drive folder. Photos and videos are also available via email upon request.

 

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Wildlands Network envisions a world where nature is unbroken, and where humans co-exist in harmony with the land and its wild inhabitants. Our mission is to reconnect, restore, and rewild North America so life in all its diversity can thrive.

The Endangered Species Coalition is a national network of hundreds of conservation, scientific, education, religious, sporting, outdoor recreation, business and community organizations working to protect our nation’s disappearing wildlife and last remaining wild places.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.

The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation fosters a knowing stewardship of our world through biodiversity research and education initiatives that promote and inform worldwide preservation of our biological heritage. We believe that by enhancing our public understanding of biodiversity, we can foster a culture of stewardship in which people are inspired to conserve and protect the natural world.

Center for Large Landscape Conservation strategically connects ideas, individuals, and institutions to catalyze collaboration and amplify progress towards the imperative of our time: to conserve Earth’s resilient, vital large landscapes.

Pollinator Protectors Project

Spotlight on: Nez Perce National Historical Park

Coauthored by: Jeanne Dodds, ESC Creative Engagement Director and Heidi Tamm, Nez Perce National Historical Park

What is a Pollinator Protector habitat? It is a space, small or large, dedicated to plantings of native plants supporting pollinators. Thoughtfully selected and locally sourced plants provide food sources for pollinators who in turn provide the essential service of pollination. Pollinator Protectors gardens provide habitat in space where plants that pollinators require may be absent, such as urban areas with limited green space, areas covered by lawns, or locations where appropriate plants once thrived but have been extirpated. Pollinator Protectors gardens renew and support habitat for native species.

One of the Pollinator Protectors sites that the Endangered Species Coalition works with is the Nez Perce National Historical Park in Spaulding, Idaho. The area immediately surrounding the visitor center at Nez Perce National Historical Park was historically all manicured turf grass. To reduce the amount of watering and maintenance required in these areas, Natural Resource staff converted one of the grassy areas into a pollinator garden. Staff researched a variety of native species most suitable to plant, i.e. those that are drought tolerant and self-sufficient. Over twenty-five species were chosen and with the help of volunteers on National Public Lands Day in 2016 and 2017, plants were out planted into the garden. Since then, the plants have grown quite nicely and attracted a variety of pollinator species. The garden has also attracted the attention of many visitors. Thus, an effort has been placed on using the pollinator garden as a tool to promote awareness of the importance of planting species beneficial to pollinators. Another focus is to maintain the pollinator garden long-term so it continues providing habitat for pollinators in our area.

Nez Perce National Historical Park is just one of the fifteen sites nationally that ESC partnered with for our fall 2018 planting cycle. To create these relationships, ESC provides small grants to planting sites; in turn these locations consult with state native plant societies for plant and nursery recommendations. ESC is growing this effort, developing educational materials and building new partnerships. We envision this work expanding and deepening in 2019 and the years ahead. We invite you to contact us if you are interested in participating in the Pollinator Protectors project as a planting site, funder or other partner.

 

 

Local Interests Come Together to Protect Threatened Jumping Mouse

I like to say that I work on the “people-side” of wildlife conservation. Most of the time, my days consist of me vigorously typing emails, reading policy, having conference calls, and giving presentations. I spend the majority of my waking life working to protect wildlife, but you know, I hardly get to see them.  

Photo credit: Boulder County Parks and Open Space

Which is why I was completely psyched when the opportunity to get out in the field presented itself. Earlier this month, the Endangered Species Coalition teamed up with Boulder County Parks and Open Space and local business, Bluebird Botanicals, to do habitat restoration for the federally-threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mouse.

The Preble’s is our western jumping mouse here in Colorado. This subspecies is found only on the Colorado Front Range and southeastern Wyoming. These little guys have long hind feet for jumping, a tail that’s longer than their body, and a dark stripe down the middle of their back. They live in riparian habitats (near streams and other sources of water) and are mostly nocturnal. They hibernate in the winter (so jealous…) and emerge typically in May.  

Over the last century, extensive habitat loss and fragmentation due to development, water diversions, overgrazing, water pollution, and mining have resulted in a rapid decline of Preble’s populations.

In addition to threats from habitat destruction, the mouse is also facing threats in Congress. Colorado’s very own Congressman Doug Lamborn introduced a rider in this year’s Interior Appropriations bill that would prohibit the use of funding to recover the mouse. The mouse’s conservation status is seen as a threat to development interests and some members of Congress are attempting to thwart their recovery.

So! In an effort to help restore Preble’s habitat in Boulder County, participating partners from government, non-profit, and business interests intersected to do some real good for an endangered species! Together, we planted about 200 roses, snowberries, hawthorns, currants, and willows.  All of which will provide habitat for the Preble’s as they continue to recover and expand their habitat.

Kyra Siva-Wise, CPO at Bluebird Botanicals, shared her experience with us: “I loved this project and so did all of our employees that participated. It’s not only a great team building experience, our employees loved being to restore a natural habitat. As people who deeply care about the planet, it meant a lot to give back in this way. I would encourage more companies to get involved in projects like this. It builds stronger teams, helps the planet, and makes happy employees. A win for all!”

The Endangered Species Coalition was thrilled to be a part of this project. Convening partners from multiple sectors for wildlife conservation is probably our most favorite thing to do! We want to thank Bluebird Botanicals and Boulder County Parks and Open Space for making this project happen!

If you’re like me, and your normal day-to-day unfortunately doesn’t include being out in nature and helping animals like a Disney Princess (or Prince), you can still help the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and their backstop, the Endangered Species Act. Sign and share this petition asking our decision makers to protect our nation’s wildlife!

The Midterm results could be the difference between extinction and conservation

The 2018 midterm election could determine the fate of the Endangered Species Act and how hard we have to fight to keep wolves, grizzly bears, and sage grouse safe from political attacks.

What we and our neighbors do on November 6th could dictate the fate of endangered and threatened species for the next several years. By choosing to vote, we can take part in the most effective and meaningful individual action to protect plants, fish, and wildlife.

Hopefully, you are registered to vote but if not you may still be able to register on Election Day.

Check your voter registration or find registration information at the Native Plant Conservation Campaign/Endangered Species Coalition Endangered Species Voter Action Center.

What’s at stake

Every member of the House of Representatives and 35 members of the Senate are facing re-election. Many of these contests are predicted to be very close and your vote could make the difference between members of Congress who attempt scores of attacks on the Endangered Species Act and ones who do not.

Photo credit NPS

Knowledge is power

Knowing who is on the ballot is the second step in being a prepared voter. You can look up all of the candidates that will be asking for your vote on our Endangered Species Voter Action Center.

You can use the links below to evaluate the voting records and campaign contribution sources of incumbent members of Congress:

Scorecards & Policy Positions

Defenders of Wildlife Scorecard

VoteSmart (for national, state and local elected officials)

Open Secrets

Federal Elections Committee

After you have determined who deserves your support, you need to know where to go to vote. Polling locations are often moved. Even if you think you remember where you voted the last time you cast a ballot, please double check. You can look up your polling place on our Endangered Species Voter Action Center.

Are you in college?

If you are a student, you can can vote in your home state or the state in which you are attending college. Visit this site to learn more.

Ex-offenders can vote!

It is a myth that all ex-offenders cannot vote. Rules are governed by state. Respect My Vote has every state’s requirements.

Need a ride?

Getting to the polling place can be a challenge but it should absolutely not stop you from voting! Please visit drive.vote to find free rides to the polls on Election Day.

Vote early!

It is crucial that you and all of your neighbors vote. Democracy works best when it is participated in and as detailed above, wildlife needs for you to cast your vote. Please vote early if allowed in your state and remember to vote on Election Day. Need a reminder? Sign up for a text on Election Day.

You’ve already voted?

If you have already voted, or want to do more, please consider signing up to be poll watcher in your area.

Memorial for Tahlequah’s Baby and J50: First We Mourn, Then We Organize

Memorial originally planned for baby Orca that mother Tahlequah carried for 17 days in grieving ritual, now additionally planned for 3-year old J50 (Scarlet).

WHAT: Memorial for J35 Tahlequah’s Baby and J50

WHEN: Friday, September 21 – Starting at 3:00pm – 7:00pm

WHERE: Occidental Square Park in Pioneer Square on the Traditional lands of the Duwamish Peoples, 117 S Washington St, Seattle, WA 98104. Procession to The Federal Building at 915 2nd Ave to begin at 5:00 PM calling for the removal of the Lower Snake River dams.

WHO: Opening by youth representative Blake Whitewolf Shelafoe and hereditary leader Ken Workman, with presentations, prayers and songs by Indigenous leaders and musical artist Dana Lyons.

RSVP Here:

Join us to grieve the loss of Tahlequah’s lost baby and the loss of 3-year old calf Scarlet in solidarity with the starving Southern Resident Orcas.

The death of Scarlet and the looming extinction of these Orcas is caused by the lack of food, pollution, overfishing, underwater noise, habitat destruction, and fish farms, according to the Center for Whale Research, which has studied these Orca for decades. A major cause of the decline of Chinook salmon–the major source of food for this population of Orcas–can be attributed to the obstruction of fish passage and blockage of miles of spawning habitat by the four lower Snake River Dams. A Fish Passage Center study shows a four-fold decline of Snake River spring/summer Chinook Smolt-to-Adult returns since the dams were constructed.

“It is our sacred responsibility to bring this population back from the brink of extinction,” stated Chiara Rose, Pacific Coast Representative for the Endangered Species Coalition. “This is a species that gives names to its babies. A species whose pods have returned to distinct underwater neighborhoods each year for thousands of years in the beautiful Salish Sea. They have their own language with distinct culture. There are solutions. How many more baby Orcas need to die before we implement them?”

Attendees will come bringing personal words, letters, pictures, drawings and thoughts to be added to the community altar which will be carried in the procession and placed in front of The Federal Building. Attendees are asked to come dressed in black and white to show Love for our Southern Resident Orcas.

Tahlequah is the mother who carried her deceased baby orca around the Salish Sea for 17 days in a historically unprecedented and incredibly moving ritual of grief. When the baby would fall her mother would nose dive and reach down to bring her dead calf’s body back to the surface. Now another calf in her pod, Scarlet, has died from starvation.

A diverse coalition of faith-based, tribal, student, climate, and conservation organizations are sponsoring this event, to see the full list of sponsors and to RSVP visit .

This memorial service is free and open to the public.

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The heartbreaking story of Tahlequah (J35)

When humans experience grief, we often turn to music to express deep emotions of loss and sorrow. Many of us are feeling a profound sense of grief and loss with the recent death of the baby orca born by mother orca J35 (named Tahlequah by the Whale Museum).  Beyond the tragedy of the death of this critically endangered animal, we are collectively witnessing the power of the connection between mother and baby, as Tahlequah carries her baby’s body with her pod, journeying hundreds of miles through the Salish Sea. Today is the eighth day that the orca mother and her pod have traveled carrying the baby’s corpse.

Seattle musician Tai Shan gives voice to the profound relationship evidenced in the behavior of the orcas and the grief felt in response to the loss of the baby orca, by creating music for the mother and baby. Tai Shan contacted ESC to share her song, saying about the mother orca, ‘How tired she must be, how much grief and confusion. Her plight had me up at 1am last night writing her a lullaby.’

People around the globe are watching Tahlequah journey with the corpse of her baby and wondering how to offer action to prevent these heartbreaking events from happening again. We invite you to participate in supporting the recovery of the Southern Resident orca, turning grief into action. Please sign this petition to Governor Jay Inslee today. Our orcas need your voice now more than ever.

To learn more about Tai Shan’s music, go to https://taishanmusic.com/home.

To share your art, music, and ideas for creative actions in support of the Southern Resident orca, contact Jeanne Dodds Creative Engagement Director jdodds at endangered.org.

Zinke’s Interior Dept. Seeks to Undermine Protections for Endangered Species

Washington, DC —  In response to today’s release by the Sec. Ryan Zinke’s Department of Interior of draft regulations to weaken protections for America’s most at-risk fish, plants and wildlife, the Endangered Species Coalition released the following statement from Program Director Tara Thornton:

“Under the guise of “reform,” we are seeing a full-on assault on imperiled wildlife and the Endangered Species Act. From these Trump-Zinke administrative regulations, to a Rep. Rob Bishop-led barrage of bills in the House, to a draft bill to undermine the Act by Senator Barrasso in the Senate, this is all part and parcel of the Trump administration’s industry and polluter-friendly deregulatory agenda.

The Endangered Species Act is our nation’s most effective law for protecting wildlife in danger of extinction, and has prevented more than 99 percent of listed species from going extinct. The Endangered Species Act already allows for flexibility in protecting endangered wildlife and requires that federal agencies work together with state, tribal and local officials work to prevent extinction. We know that strong majorities, across the political spectrum, support the Endangered Species Act and want wildlife decisions to be made by biologists and wildlife professionals, not politicians in Congress. (2015 Tulchin poll)

Rather than making detrimental changes to a law that works, Congress and the Administration should improve the law’s implementation by fully funding recovery efforts for endangered species.”

More info: 

Although some members of Congress have been seeking to weaken the Act, public opinion research indicates that the law continues to maintain broad, bipartisan, public support. A 2015 poll conducted by Tulchin Research found that 90 percent of American voters across all political, regional and demographic lines support the Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Species Act was a landmark conservation law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 92-0 in the Senate, and 394-4 in the House. In 2017, more than 400 organizations signed a letter to members of Congress opposing efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act, noting the law has a 99 percent success rate, including some of the country’s most exciting wildlife recoveries, like the bald eagles, humpback whales, American alligators, Channel Island foxes, Tennessee purple coneflowers, and more.

Scientific consensus indicates that we are in the sixth wave of extinction. The main tool in the United States to battle this human-caused crisis is the Endangered Species Act, which has been very effective in keeping species from sliding into extinction.

Submit your comments opposing this plan today before the September 24th deadline.

 

House Unleashes Barrage of Bills to Weaken Endangered Species Act

Washington, DC — In response to the release of 9 bills that would undermine the Endangered Species Act by House Republicans, the Endangered Species Coalition released the following statement from Program Director Tara Thornton:

“Rep. Bishop and other anti-wildlife Republicans in Congress are not content to try and sell our beloved public lands, but have been relentless in their efforts to undermine our most important safety net for fish and wildlife on the brink of extinction. The Endangered Species Act is one of our most successful conservation laws, having prevented the disappearance of hundreds of imperiled species. Thanks to Endangered Species Act, humpback whales still swim our coasts and bald eagles still soar our skies. It sad that some members of Congress and the special interests they take money from wish to deny future generations of Americans the opportunity to enjoy our amazing wildlife.”

Although some members of Congress have been seeking to weaken the Act, public opinion research indicates that the law continues to maintain broad, bipartisan, public support. A 2015 poll conducted by Tulchin Research found that 90 percent of American voters across all political, regional and demographic lines support the Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Species Act was a landmark conservation law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 92-0 in the Senate, and 394-4 in the House. In 2017, more than 400 organizations signed a letter to members of Congress opposing efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act, noting the law has a 99 percent success rate, including some of the country’s most exciting wildlife recoveries, like the bald eagles, humpback whales, American alligators, Channel Island foxes, Tennessee purple coneflowers, and more.

Scientific consensus indicates that we are in the sixth wave of extinction. The main tool in the United States to battle this human-caused crisis is the Endangered Species Act, which has been very effective in keeping species from sliding into extinction.

Wyoming GOP Senator Introduces Discussion Draft to Weaken Endangered Species Act

Barrasso Discussion Draft Politicizes Science, Would Limit Protections for Imperiled Wildlife

Washington, DC – Today Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced a discussion draft that would undermine one of America’s bedrock wildlife conservation laws, the Endangered Species Act. While the Act requires the best available science to be used in wildlife protection decisions, Senator Barrasso’s discussion draft would subject wildlife protection decisions to political interference.

“Senator Barrasso’s discussion draft proposes that we go back in time and reverse the incredible successes that we’ve had as a nation protecting animals and plants, and ultimately ourselves,” said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “Why on earth would we do that—especially now that we have an even better understanding of how healthy plant and animal populations give us clean water and clean air? Let’s do more to give our children and grandchildren a clean and healthy planet, not less.”

Although some members of Congress have been seeking to weaken the Act, public opinion research indicates that the law continues to maintain broad, bipartisan, public support. A 2015 poll conducted by Tulchin Research found that 90 percent of American voters across all political, regional and demographic lines support the Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Species Act was a landmark conservation law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 92-0 in the Senate, and 394-4 in the House. In 2017, more than 400 organizations signed a letter to members of Congress opposing efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act, noting the law has a 99 percent success rate, including some of the country’s most exciting wildlife recoveries, like the bald eagles, humpback whales, American alligators, Channel Island foxes, Tennessee purple coneflowers, and more.

Scientific consensus indicates that we are in the sixth wave of extinction. The main tool in the United States to battle this human-caused crisis is the Endangered Species Act, which has been very effective in keeping species from sliding into extinction.

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Photo credit Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

Endangered Species Coalition and Native Plant Conservation Campaign Launch Voter Toolkit

Effort Aims to Inform, Mobilize Conservation Voters in 2018

Washington, D.C. – A national wildlife conservation organization, the Endangered Species Coalition, together with their member groups from across the country, unveiled a new voter education and mobilization toolkit today. The “Get Out the Wild Vote” toolkit is intended to educate and mobilize voters whose top concerns are environmental and wildlife conservation issues.

“We know from research that environmentally-conscious Americans are not voting nearly as much their neighbors,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “For the sake of our disappearing plants and wildlife, we simply must get involved, vote and ensure that the people we elect do more to protect our nation’s wildlife heritage for future generations.”

The toolkit will help people register to vote, check their voter registration, and help activists register other people to vote. The toolkit will also help people become informed voters, specifically, on candidates’ voting and campaign finance records. It will also allow users to locate public candidate forums, debates and find other opportunities to ask candidates questions related to imperiled wildlife issues. Come election time, the tool will even remind users that it is time to vote.

“It’s imperative that those of us who care about plants, wildlife, and conservation issues get engaged every election cycle to ensure that politicians of all parties and jurisdictions do what it takes to protect and recover fish, plants and wildlife on the brink of extinction,” said Emily Roberson, Executive Director of the Native Plants Conservation Campaign.

The toolkit is free to use, and anyone interested can access it online at www.ESAVoter.org.