Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

March 12, 2009  

Contact:             Joshua Winchell  703 358-2279  

                          joshua_winchell@fws.gov

                          Diane Katzenberger 303-236-4578

 

Secretary Salazar Announces $26 Million for Wetlands Grants, Nearly $12 Million for Refuge Acquisitions Benefiting Migratory Waterfowl

 

South Dakota Project to Receive Grant

 

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved more than $26 million in funding to protect and restore more than 200,000 acres of wetland areas and wildlife habitat in the U.S. and Mexico under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). The commission, which is chaired by Secretary Salazar, also approved $11.5 million to protect more than 3,500 wetland acres on seven units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

 

The commission includes Senators Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Representative John Dingell of Michigan, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, as well as state representatives serving as ex officio members who vote on projects located within their respective states.

 

“It is an honor to preside over a program that for nearly eight decades has secured hundreds of thousands of acres of wetland habitat throughout North America for migratory birds,” Secretary Salazar said. “The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is about common-sense conservation, protecting wetlands critical to birds throughout their nesting, wintering, and migratory ranges irrespective of state and international borders that may intersect the flyways.”

 

More than $24.2 million of  NAWCA grant funds will support 25 projects in 21 states and Puerto Rico, with partners contributing an additional $60.6 million in matching funds to help protect, restore and enhance almost 185,000 acres. Nearly $2 million for seven projects will help protect 85,427 acres of habitat in Mexico, with partners contributing an additional $3.5 million the projects. The grants were awarded under NAWCA’s U.S. Standard Grants and Mexico Grants Programs administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior. The grants are funded by annual Congressional appropriations; fines, penalties and forfeitures levied under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; interest accrued on funds under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act and excise taxes paid on small engine fuels through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Fund.

 

The South Dakota Threatened Habitats Project encompassing 21 counties in the Prairie Pothole region of South Dakota will receive a $770,000 grant, $1.6 million in matching funds, and $27 million in non-matching funds. 

 

This project represents a continued effort to accelerate protection of this threatened landscape by working primarily with family ranchers to ensure a sustainable future.  A diverse coalition will develop an integrated suite of wetland and grassland conservation tools that will be implemented to benefit the grasslands needed by ranchers as well as the vital landscape attributes needed by prairie birds.  Matching partner contributions will be combined with grant funds to restore, establish and enhance wetlands and grasslands.  This habitat will not only provide direct benefits to more than 7,000 breeding duck pairs, but will also afford critical conservation benefits to the full spectrum of  native bird communities dependent on the rapidly disappearing native grasslands and wetlands of central South Dakota.  For example, restored and enhanced tracts will provide direct breeding habitat benefits to an estimated 475 willet pairs, 440 marbled godwit pairs, 210 pairs of Sprague’s pipits, 135 pairs of Baird’s sparrows and 2,730 pairs of chestnut-collared longspurs.

 

The commission also approved acquisitions that will be added to seven units of the National Wildlife Refuge System to secure breeding, resting and feeding habitat. These acquisitions are funded with proceeds from sales of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, otherwise known as the Federal Duck Stamps. These acquisitions include: 

  • Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Camden, Gates and Pasquotank Counties, North Carolina – Acquisition of 51 acres to protect, restore and maintain habitat for breeding, migrating and wintering waterfowl.
  • San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, Brazoria and Matagorda Counties, Texas – Acquisition of 1,454 acres to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl species, including mallard, gadwall, and northern pintail.
  • Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge, Pondicherry Divisions, Coos County, New Hampshire – Acquisition of 80 acres to preserve and protect important migratory waterfowl habitat, and provide feeding, nesting and resting habitat.
  • Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge, Avoyelles and Rapides Parishes, Louisiana – Acquisition of 265 acres to protect and enhance seasonally and permanently flooded wetlands for migrating and wintering waterfowl.
  • Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Wapato Lake Unit, Washington and Yamhill Counties, Oregon – Acquisition of 225 acres to manage as a migration and wintering area for waterfowl, especially tundra swans.
  • North Central Valley Wildlife Management Area, Colusa County, California – Acquisition of 388 acres to protect, restore, and maintain wetlands for waterfowl and other migratory birds.
  • Grasslands Wildlife Management Area, Merced County, California – A permanent easement of 1,077 acres protecting and enhancing a major wintering area for migratory waterfowl. 

 

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the 1934 amendment to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that created the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, commonly known as the Duck Stamp.  For every dollar spend on Federal Duck Stamps, ninety-eight cents goes directly to purchase vital habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission oversees the use of Federal Duck Stamp funds for the purchase and lease of these wetland habitats for national wildlife refuges.  To date, more than 5 million acres of wetlands  have been purchased using more than $650 million in Duck Stamp revenue.

 

More information about NAWCA grant programs and summaries of the projects approved today is available on the Web at: http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NAWCA/index.shtm.

 

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit <www.fws.gov>