Nicholas Throckmorton, 202/208-5636
Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced that the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission today has approved more than $18 million for habitat conservation in the United States and Mexico to benefit migratory birds. At the same time, the Commission also approved the acquisition of nearly 1,200 acres of important migratory bird habitat to be added to the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The Commission's action 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 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 three states.
"Protecting, enhancing and restoring our nation's wetlands is one of President Bush's highest conservation priorities," said Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton. "Through highly successful partnerships under the North American Wetland Conservation Act, we are setting aside millions of acres of wetlands to benefit not only migratory birds but other wildlife as well. Sportsmen's groups and other conservation organizations have been particularly effective partners, providing both expertise and financial support for wetland restoration efforts."
Working with Partners to Conserve Wetlands
NAWCA Standard Grants funded 16 projects with more than $13.1 million in 11 States to protect, restore or enhance nearly 140,000 acres of wetlands and associated upland habitats. Project partners added nearly $55 million.
Since 1991, more than 2,500 partners have been involved in more than 1,300 Act-supported projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Partners must at least match the grant request dollar for dollar. Canadian and U.S. partners focus on long-term protection, restoration, or enhancement of critical habitats; Mexican partners also may develop training, management, and environmental education programs and conduct studies on sustainable use. In total, more than $640.9 million in Act grants have been invested in the three countries. Partner contributions have amounted to $1.9 billion. Some 13.6 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands have been affected.
The Commission also approved nearly $2.4 million for 15 projects in Mexico. Partners added more than $3.5 million to achieve their conservation goals.
"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.
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 and Land and Water Conservation Funds for National Wildlife Refuges.
Money raised by the sale of Federal Duck Stamps pays for wetland acquisitions for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Federal Duck Stamps are purchased predominately by waterfowl hunters and other conservationists. Since the first Duck Stamp sale in 1934, nearly $700 million has been raised to help purchase more than five million acres of wetlands for the refuge system. Today, the Commission approved the use of more than $535,000 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:
Louisiana: Acquisition of 615 acres to provide habitat for waterfowl within the boundaries of Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Ouachita Parish. The acquisition cost $1,041,000, with $150,000 coming from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund.
New Hampshire: Acquisition of 516 acres at a cost of $304,000 to protect wetlands for waterfowl within the boundaries of Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge in Coos County.
Texas: Acquisition of 98 acres at a cost of $81,200 to provide breeding, wintering and migratory habitat for waterfowl within the boundaries of Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Liberty County.
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 and right-of-way payments to the refuge system. 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 Blanche Lincoln; Representatives John Dingell and Curt Weldon; Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns; and EPA Acting Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. This Commission meeting is Senator Blanche Lincoln's first.
For more information on NAWCA and to see summaries of funded projects, please see http://birdhabitat.fws.gov/NAWCA/projects/USprojects/standardgrants031605/USstandardgrantsprojects.html.
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 100-million- acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 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 and Native American Tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance 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