Nicholas Throckmorton, 202/208-5636
Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced that the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved nearly $18 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 more than 600 acres of important migratory bird habitat to be added to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge System.
The approved funds will be used to provide 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 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly called Duck Stamps, to purchase key tracts of land in three states for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
" NAWCA represents exactly the kind of partner-driven conservation efforts that are conserving and improving wildlife habitat across the entire North American continent," said Secretary Norton, who chairs the Commission. "Thanks to the dedication of the citizen conservationists who make NAWCA work on the ground, we are turning the tide and working to reach President Bush's goal of a net increase of wetlands across the U.S."
Working with Partners to Conserve Wetlands
The NAWCA Standard Grants funded four U.S. projects in five States totaling more than $3 million to protect, restore or enhance 5,446 acres of wetlands and associated upland habitats. Project partners added nearly $32 million.
NAWCA awardees are:
Arizona: A partnership led by Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area will receive nearly $500,000 and put up more than $3 million to conserve wetlands along the lower Colorado River.
California: A partnership led by the Wildlife Conservation Board will receive nearly $1 million and put up nearly $13 million to conserve wetlands in San Pablo Bay.
Idaho/Wyoming: A partnership led by the Teton Regional Land Trust, Inc., will receive $1 million and put up in match nearly $14 million to conserve wetlands in the Teton River Basin.
Washington: A partnership led by Ducks Unlimited, Inc., will receive $1 million and put up $2.2 million to conserve wetlands in the San Juan Islands.
Since 1991, some 2,800 partners have been involved in more than 1,400 NAWCA-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, more than $658 million in NAWCA grants have been awarded in the three countries, including $2 billion in private contributions for wetlands and association uplands conservation projects covering almost 14 million acres throughout the continent.
The Commission also approved more than $14 million for 14 projects in Canada. Partners added nearly $30 million to achieve their conservation goals. In addition, based on the results of 38 grants under the "small grants" program, the Commission approved an additional $2 million in allocations for the small grant program for 2006.
"Since many of North America's waterfowl species we enjoy in the U.S. during the spring and fall depend on Canadian wetland habitat during the summer months, it is also appropriate to use NAWCA funds to support wetlands conservation projects in Canada," said Norton.
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.
Federal Duck Stamp Revenues and Land and Water Conservation Funds 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 to help purchase in excess of five million acres of wetlands for the refuge system. Today, the Commission approved nearly a million dollars in Federal Duck Stamp funds 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:
Arkansas: Addition of nearly 10,000 acres to the Refuge boundary at Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in Tucker County. The Service plans on purchasing an estimated 980 acres this summer to conserve bottomland hardwood habitat for migratory waterfowl.
Virginia: Acquisition of a 355- acre easement to protect wetland habitat for waterfowl near Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Richmond County. The tract will become part of the Refuge.
Texas: Acquisition of 330 acres to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl near Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Liberty County. The tract will become part of the Refuge.
New Jersey: Acquisition of 19.1 acres to preserve Spartina salt marsh for migrating waterfowl within the boundaries of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge in Cape May County.
Tennessee: Acquisition of 56 acres to protect habitat for wintering waterfowl within the boundaries of Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge in Lauderdale 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 balance of property was purchased with money from the Congressionally apportioned Land and Water Conservation Fund.
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.
For more information on NAWCA and to see summaries of funded projects, please see http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/NAWCA/grants.htm.
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, 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 and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.