FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2002
The Cabinet-level commission, chaired by Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Craig Manson, approved funds of $3 million to acquire the land. All acquisitions had been previously approved by the affected states.
“The land acquisitions approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission will protect important habitat, ensuring that the National Wildlife Refuge System continues to provide vital nesting, breeding, feeding and resting places for migratory bird populations,” said Steven Williams, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge system. “By working with state, public and private partners, the Commission continues to make sure that the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System remains the world's premier network of public lands dedicated to wildlife conservation.”
New National Wildlife Refuge System acquisitions approved by the Conservation Commission are:
During the Commission's meeting on March 14, Williams acknowledged the historic occasion of the Refuge System's 99th birthday that day, and noted the significance of efforts to honor the upcoming centennial anniversary of the refuge system in 2003.
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 meets three times a year to approve funding proposals. 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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System that encompasses nearly 540 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.
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