News Release

Norton Announces Funding for Wetlands Projects, Additions to National Wildlife Refuges

September 22, 2005

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Interior Secretary Gale Norton yesterday announced the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved nearly $29 million for habitat conservation in the United States and Canada to benefit migratory birds. At the same time, the Commission also approved the acquisition of nearly 6,000 acres of important migratory bird habitat to be added to the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Commissions 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, the Duck Stamp, to purchase key tracts of land for the Services National Wildlife Refuge System in three states.

Working with Partners to Conserve Wetlands

The NAWCA Standard Grants Program funded 25 projects with more than $24 million in 19 States to protect, restore or enhance more than 198,000 acres of wetlands and associated upland habitats in the United States. Project partners added nearly $97 million.

"Acre-by-acre, public and private partners are restoring wetlands across the nation," said Secretary Norton, who chairs the Commission. "Wetlands provide excellent habitat for wildlife and provide millions of Americans with a broad range of outdoor recreational opportunities."

Since 1990, more than 2,800 partners have been involved in more than 1,400 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, nearly $700 million in Act grants have been invested in the three countries. Partner contributions have amounted to $2.0 billion. Some 14 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands have been affected.

The Commission also approved nearly $5 million for 15 projects in Canada. Partners added nearly $10 million to achieve their conservation goals.

"Since many of North Americas waterfowl species are dependent on breeding habitat in Canada, it is important that we use our NAWCA funds to conserve habitat there as well," said Acting Service Director Matt Hogan.

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.

For more information, please see http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/NAWCA/grants.htm.

Federal Duck Stamp Revenues for National Wildlife Refuges.

Money raised by the sale of Federal Duck Stamps pays for wetland acquisitions for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since the first Duck Stamp sale in 1934, more than $700 million has been raised for the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. Money from the fund has purchased more than five million acres of wetlands for the refuge system.

Today, the Commission approved more than $5,897,703 from the Fund to acquire land for the National Wildlife Refuge System. All acquisitions were previously approved by the affected states.

New National Wildlife Refuge System acquisitions are:

Louisiana: Acquisition of 1,550 acres to protect wetland habitat for waterfowl to be added to Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge in Concordia Parish.

Mississippi: Acquisition of 702 acres to protect bottomland habitat for wintering waterfowl and resident wood ducks to be added to Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Yazoo County.

Louisiana: Acquisition of 1,732 acres to be added to Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Caddo, Bossier, Desoto, Red River, and Natchitoches Parishes for protection and restoration wetland habitat .

Texas: Acquisition of 1,031 acres to provide wetland habitat for waterfowl to be added to San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge in Brazoria County.

Texas: Acquisition of 3 acres to protect wetland habitat to be added to Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Liberty County.

Louisiana: Acquisition of 160 acres to provide waterfowl habitat within the boundary of Cat National Wildlife Refuge in West Feliciana Parish.

Louisiana: Acquisition of 80 acres to preserve bottomland hardwood habitat for waterfowl within the boundary of Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge in Catahoula Parish.

Mississippi: Reauthorization of a 502 acre lease to protect wetland habitat for waterfowl within the boundary of St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Adams 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. 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 Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.

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 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 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.

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