Nicholas Throckmorton, 202/208-5634
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved $15.8 million for habitat conservation to benefit migratory birds, including its 500th project. At the same time, the Commission also approved the acquisition of more than 370 acres of important migratory bird habitat to be added to the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The MBCC’s action today in Washington will fund grants to states and other partners through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), to meet important habitat goals for migratory birds. The Commission’s 500th NAWCA wetland conservation project will conserve over 6,000 acres in Nebraska. The commission also allocated revenue from the sale of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp) to purchase key tracts of land for the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System in New Jersey and Louisiana.
"President Bush’s support for wetlands conservation was clearly evident when he approved the reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, renewing that commitment and supporting increased funding through this outstanding public-private partnership program," said Interior Secretary Gale Norton. "Wetlands provide excellent habitat for wildlife, and provide millions of Americans with a broad range of outdoor recreational opportunities."
Working with Partners to Conserve Wetlands
The NAWCA grants totaling $15.8 million, will fund 17 projects in the United States to protect or restore more than 270,000 acres of wetlands and associated upland habitats in 13 states. Project partners added a total of $75.9 million.
The U.S. based projects are in the States of Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, New Jersey, and North Carolina.
Throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada, the Standard Grant Program has invested nearly $600 million through the Act ,and partners have contributed nearly $1.7 billion. The partners have restored and
protected approximately 20.6 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands.
Since the NAWCA U.S. Standard Grant program began in 1990, more than $340 million in Federal funds has been matched with $857 million in partner funds for the long-term protection of wetlands and associated uplands needed by waterfowl and other migratory birds in the United States.
The Commission also approved more than $482,000 for three projects in four Mexican states. Partners added more than $583,000.
"Since many of North America’s waterfowl species are dependent on wintering habitat in Mexico, it is important that we use our NAWCA funds to conserve habitat there as well," said Service Director Steve Williams. "For every federal dollar provided though this program nearly $3 more are made available by partners, and that speaks volumes about the success this program has had since it was created."
Funding for this program comes from Congressional appropriations, funds collected from fines, penalties, and forfeitures under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, interest accrued to the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, and from excise taxes paid on small engine fuels through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act.
Federal Duck Stamp Revenues for Conservation
"Sportsmen and women have contributed a great deal to the development of the National Wildlife Refuge System," Norton said. "Money raised by the sale of Federal Duck Stamps pays for these land acquisitions. Since the first Duck Stamp sale in 1934, about $675 million has been raised to purchase more than five million acres of wetlands for the refuge system."
The Commission also approved more than $289,000 in Federal Duck Stamp funds to acquire land for the National Wildlife Refuge System. All acquisitions were previously approved by the affected states.
New National Wildlife Refuge System acquisitions approved by the Conservation Commission are:
"The Commission turns 75 this year," Norton added. "More than 75 years ago, conservationists realized habitat was very important for wildlife. They created the Federal Duck Stamp and this Commission to protect wetlands for migratory waterfowl."
The Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929 established the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission to approve land to be purchased for the National Wildlife Refuge System with monies from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. The fund is supported by revenue collected from Federal Duck Stamp sales, import duties collected on arms and ammunition, right-of-way payments to the refuge system, and receipts from national wildlife refuge entry fees. For more information about the Federal Duck Stamp program please visit http://duckstamps.fws.gov.
The Commission meets three times a year to approve funding proposals. Permanent Commission members are Interior Secretary Norton, Senators Thad Cochran and John Breaux; Representatives John Dingell and Curt Weldon; Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman; and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt. For more information on NAWCA, please see http://birdhabitat.fws.gov/NAWCA/grants.htm.
Description of approved NAWCA projects include:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
visit our homepage at http://www.fws.gov