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

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2004


Contact:

Nicholas Throckmorton, 202/208-5636

 

Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced today that the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved more than $27 million for wetland habitat conservation in the United States and Canada to benefit migratory birds and other wildlife. At the same time, the Commission also approved the acquisition of nearly 16,000 acres of important migratory bird habitat to be added to units in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Commission's action will provide funding to states and other partners through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) to conserve habitat for migratory birds. Also, the Commission used money from the sale of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, the Duck Stamp, to purchase key tracts of land for the Service's National Wildlife Refuge System in six states.

“We are working to make good on President Bush’s goal of restoring, enhancing and protecting 3 million acres of wetlands over the next five years,” said Secretary Gale Norton, who chairs the Commission. “With this round of NAWCA proposals, we are set to restore nearly 22,000 acres, enhance nearly 89,000 acres, and protect more than 217,000 acres of wetlands around the nation.”

“President Bush's support for wetlands conservation was clearly evident when he approved the reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, renewing that commitment and supporting increased funding through this outstanding public-private partnership program. Wetlands provide excellent habitat for wildlife, and provide millions of Americans with a broad range of outdoor recreational opportunities."


Working with Partners to Conserve Wetlands

The NAWCA Standard Grants Program will fund 22 projects in 13 states for more than $20.5 million to protect or restore more than 1.1 million acres of wetlands and associated upland habitats. Project partners will contribute up to $150 million. A list of grants appears at the end of this release.

Since 1990, more than 2,000 partners have been involved in more than 1,000 projects made possible through the Standard Grant Program. Canadian, Mexican and U.S. partners focus on protecting, restoring, and enhancing wetland habitat. Project partners must minimally match the grant request at a one-to-one ratio. More than $600 million has been invested through the Act and total partner contributions exceed $1.7 billion. More than 22 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands have been affected across the continent.

The Commission also approved more than $6.4 million in funding for 13 projects in Canada. Partners there are adding more than $15.4 million to conserve 98,000 acres of wetlands.

"Since many of North America's 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 Service Director Steve Williams. “All of this work with partners will help us continue to improve habitat conditions and promote solution oriented conservation of migratory birds and other wildlife for future generations.”

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 Wallop-Breaux Amendments to the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act.

Federal Duck Stamp Revenues for Conservation

The Commission approved more than $15.5 million in Federal Duck Stamp funds to acquire land for the National Wildlife Refuge System. All acquisitions were previously approved by the affected states.

"Sportsmen and women have contributed a great deal to the development of the National Wildlife Refuge System," Norton said. "Money raised by the sale of Federal Duck Stamps pays for this land acquisition. Since the first Duck Stamp sale in 1934, nearly $700 million has been raised to purchase more than five million acres of wetlands for the refuge system."

New Southeastern National Wildlife Refuge System acquisitions approved by the Conservation Commission are:

Louisiana: Acquisition of 1,082 acres to provide habitat for waterfowl within the boundaries of Red River National Wildlife Refuge.

Louisiana: Acquisition of 10,948 acres to protect bottomland hardwood forest for migratory waterfowl within the boundaries of Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge.

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 John Breaux; Representatives John Dingell and Curt Weldon; Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman; and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt.

Descriptions of the approved NAWCA projects for the Southeast are:
  • The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and seven partners will receive $1 million and contribute up to $45 million for a project called Bonneau Ferry to conserve nearly 12,000 acres of wetlands near the Cooper River.
  • Ducks Unlimited and nine partners will receive nearly $1 million and contribute up to $7 million for a project called Chenier Plain Coastal Wetlands Conservation Phase II to conserve nearly 11,000 acres of wetlands in Louisiana and Texas.
  • The Service and five partners will receive more than $765,000 and contribute up to $2.1 million for a project called Hanson Marsh Hydrologic Restoration to conserve more than 45,000 acres of wetlands in Louisiana.
  • The Nature Conservancy and five partners will receive nearly $996,000 and contribute up to $3.5 million for a project called Lower Mississippi Valley Priority Sites Phase I to conserve nearly 9,000 acres of wetlands in Louisiana.
  • The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and three partners will receive $1 million and contribute up to $2.3 million for a project called Manchac Wildlife Management Area Prairie Shoreline Protection to conserve nearly 71,000 acres of wetlands in Louisiana.
  • The State of Louisiana and two partners will receive $1 million and contribute up to $3.1 million for a project called Maurepas/Pontchartrain Habitat Conservation Effort Phase I to conserve 7,000 acres of wetlands.
  • The Service, American Electric Power and The Conservation Fund will receive $1 million and contribute up to $2.2 million for a project called Restoration and Expansion of Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge I, to conserve more than 6,400 acres of wetlands in Louisiana.

For summaries of funded U.S. Standard Grant projects, please see http://birdhabitat.fws.gov/NAWCA/projects/USprojects/standardgrants090804/USstandardgrantsprojects.html.

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 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 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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