Today my staff and I celebrate the addition of 42,000 acres to the National Wildlife Refuge System through the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund and conservation of 115,000 more acres through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Our investment of $25 million across our nation’s flyways will be tripled when private and nonprofit partners match it with another $50 million.
I’ve seen first hand some of the work the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is approving, so I’d like to share with you what these numbers mean to communities and species that are in need right now.
Near Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in Spokane County, Washington, many wetlands in the Channeled Scablands have been drained and can no longer support waterfowl and other wildlife. With $547,000 in land purchases and a boundary addition of nearly 40,000 acres, we will be able to restore the wetlands and protect ponderosa pine, grassland, forested wetlands and shrub-steppe habitats.
On the floodplains of the Cedar and Wapsipinicon rivers in Iowa, agricultural lands flood frequently, and farmers have no recourse but to suffer the loss and rely on state disaster payments. Our $1 million grant to protect 3,070 acres there will improve flood control and mitigate those damages. The public support for this effort is so great, our investment is being matched by $4 million from 37 partners.
The South Carolina Lowcountry has the most extensive intact wetlands in the southeastern United States, but they are losing ground. Sea level rise due to climate change is causing saltwater to intrude on the area’s freshwater marshes and forested wetlands. With a $1 million grant, our partners will protect 2,301 acres including upstream areas that aren’t subject to saltwater intrusion, preserving that habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds.
These projects will help migratory birds, other wildlife and will also provide us with benefits like clean drinking water and flood control, outdoor recreation like fishing and boating, and real economic benefits. In fact, 71.8 million Americans fed or observed birds and other wildlife in 2011, contributing $55 billion to the U.S. economy.
Some of the funding for the projects comes from the purchase of Duck Stamps. The 2013 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest is just around the corner, September 27 and 28 at Ohio’s Maumee Bay State Park. I know the winning artwork will be a glorious addition to the Duck Stamp heritage and is sure to sell well, enabling us to save more bird habitat and the many benefits it provides.