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    Ian Somerhalder Speaks Up for Species Preservation

    Ian Somerhalder has no trouble showing his altruistic side in real life.

    Fresh from a Vampire Diaries taping last night, the actor hopped a red-eye to Washington, D.C., in order to testify before Congress today on behalf of the Multinational Species Coalition, comprising eco-minded organizations ranging from the World Wildlife Fund to the Sierra Club to the National Audubon Society.

    And, as is the case with so many good-doing groups out there, it's short on funds. Enter handsome TV star.

    PHOTOS: Do-Gooders: Eco-Friendly Edition

    "Wildlife and environmental conservation has always been not just a passion, but a priority of mine," said Somerhalder, who also has an eponymous nonprofit devoted to educating people about ecological issues and funding groups that work on habitat conservation, species protection, and clean energy initiatives.

    "When I began to find that through my work as an actor, I was gaining an increasingly prominent platform in front of the American public," he continued, "I knew right away what I wanted to do with it. The IS Foundation is my attempt to use this opportunity, this share of the public's attention, for the greater good."

    In championing the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Reauthorization Act, Somerhalder noted the plights of African elephants, marine turtles, tigers, great apes like gorillas and chimpanzees, vampires...

    Well, maybe not that last one, but judging by his presentation today, Somerhalder sure knows his stuff!

    "Due to instability or indifference in the areas that many of these species call home, for most of them we are the first, last, and only hope for survival," he said in conclusion. "As the ones with the power to make a difference, the responsibility rests with us. It is imperative that we live up to it.

    "On behalf of the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and the Alliance for Global Conservation, I urge the Subcommittee to mark-up H.R. 50 and move to reauthorize this important piece of legislation."

    RELATED: Ian Somerhalder "Shaken" by Lack of Hollywood Support While Visiting Gulf Region

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