Nicholas Throckmorton, 202/208-5636
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved the acquisition of more than 3,000 acres of important migratory bird habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System at its March meeting in Washington, D.C.
The Cabinet-level commission, chaired by Interior Secretary Gale Norton, approved Migratory Bird Conservation funds of nearly $3.7 million to acquire the land. All acquisitions had been previously approved by the affected states.
“Sportsmen and women have contributed a great deal in the development of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Interior Secretary Gale Norton. “Money raised by the sale of Federal Duck Stamps pay for these land acquisitions. Since the first Duck Stamp sale in 1934, about $675 million has been raised to purchase more than 5 million acres of wetlands for the refuge system.”
New National Wildlife Refuge System acquisitions approved by the Conservation Commission are:
Colorado: Acquisition of 638 acres to protect wetlands for migratory waterfowl within the boundaries of Alamosa NWR in Alamosa County.
Maryland: Acquisition of 89 acres to preserve marsh, shoreline, wooded swamp and forested upland for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, woodcock and neotropical migrants within the boundaries of Blackwater NWR in Dorchester County.
New Jersey: Acquisition of 91.3 acres to preserve Spartina salt marsh and low wooded wetlands for waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, woodcock and neotropical migrants within the boundaries of Cape May NWR in Cape May County.
Wisconsin: Acquisition of 40 acres to preserve, protect and restore migratory waterfowl habitat at Horicon NWR in Dodge County.
Maine: Acquisition of 1,084 acres to provide habitat for black ducks and woodcock within the boundary of Moosehorn NWR in Washington County.
Tennessee: Acquisition of 609 acres to protect habitat for wintering waterfowl within the boundary of Chickasaw NWR in Lauderdale County.
Washington: Acquisition of 60 acres to provide production and migration habitat for waterfowl within the boundary of Conboy Lake NWR in Klickitat County.
Texas: Acquisition of 549 acres to protect wetlands for waterfowl within the boundary of Trinity River NWR 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, right-of-way payments to the refuge system, and receipts from national wildlife refuge entry fees.
The Commission also approved the protection or restoration of more than 137,000 acres of wetlands. A total of $14.5 million was authorized under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which will be matched by nearly $43.8 million in partner funds to restore habitat.
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission accepted recommendations from the North American Wetlands Conservation Council and approved 24 grants that will foster wetland restoration protection and enhancement projects in Mexico and the United States under the auspices of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Grant funds of more than $1.6 million will be combined with nearly $2 million of partner funds in Mexico and more than $12.9 million in grant funds will be combined with $41.8 million in the United States. Grants will fund projects in the states of North Dakota, Idaho, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Jersey, Iowa, Nebraska, California, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, and Washington and throughout Mexico.
“I am pleased to point out that nine of the 14 U.S. based projects under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act include habitat restoration on a national wildlife refuge,” said Norton. “Overall, the projects include the acquisition or restoration of more than 137,000 acres of habitat, of which more than 30,000 will be acquired for the refuge system. President Bush’s support for wetlands conservation was clearly evident last December when he signed into law the re-authorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, renewing his commitment and increasing the authorization for this outstanding program.”
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 Christine Todd Whitman.
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 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 530 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 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 that 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 out homepage at http://www.fws.gov