U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
For release: August 11, 1997
Janet Tennyson 202-219-3861
PRIME WATERFOWL HABITAT ADDED TO THE
NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM;
WETLANDS CONSERVATION PROJECTS LAUNCHED
Nearly 3,000 acres recently were targeted for acquisition for the
National Wildlife Refuge System and 22 North American Wetlands
Conservation Fund projects were launched in the United States,
Canada, and Mexico, upon the approval of a cabinet-congressional
commission chaired by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
At its June 25, 1997, meeting, the Migratory Bird Conservation
Commission approved $12 million from special funds set up for
migratory bird habitat conservation for efforts affecting a total
of 1.3 million acres. This includes:
$1.5 million for acquisitions for national wildlife refuges
totaling 2,800 acres in seven states: Arkansas, Maine, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Utah;
$2.6 million for wetlands conservation projects in California,
Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia, affecting more than
32,000 acres of wetlands. This money will be matched with $5.5
million from project partners;
$7.6 million for 13 projects affecting 188,000 acres in Canada,
with partners contributing another $9.8 million; and
$276,000 for four projects affecting 890,000 acres in Mexico,
with partners contributing $330,000.
New National Wildlife Refuge System Acquisitions:
Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas will acquire 40
acres of bottomland hardwoods hosting abundant wintering
waterfowl, particularly mallards and wood ducks. This acquisition
adds to the refuge another part of the largest remaining expanse
of forested wetlands on any tributary within the Mississippi
At Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine, established
to preserve ten important estuaries, 13 acres of tidal saltmeadow
grass, cordgrass, and blackgrass marsh will be acquired. The area
provides a critical wintering area for black ducks, mallards, and
green-winged teal, while red-breasted and common mergansers and
buffleheads use the area during other seasons. It also supports
shore- and waterbirds, including great blue herons and snowy
Black ducks, wood ducks, goldeneye, and hooded mergansers are
among the waterfowl to benefit from wetlands purchased for the
Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge on the Maine-New Hampshire
what many consider some of the finest wildlife habitat in the two
states. About 200 acres will be acquired, some along the Dead
Cambridge and Swift Cambridge Rivers, including forested wetlands
and backwater areas especially important to nesting waterfowl.
Cape May National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, one of the
largest bird hotspots in the United States with literally
millions of birds migrating through the Cape May peninsula each
year, will purchase 125 acres of saltmarsh and wooded wetlands.
These areas will benefit black ducks, wood ducks, and migrating
About 225 acres of previously drained wetlands will be restored
for the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in New York, which
hosts tens of thousands of geese and ducks year-round, especially
Canada geese, mallards,
black ducks, canvasbacks, lesser scaup, and ring-necked ducks.
The land will be managed cooperatively with farmers for the
benefit of wildlife.
Currituck National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina will expand
by more than 2,200 acres of marsh and interdunal wetlands on the
state's famous Outer Banks. This land provides breeding,
stopover, and wintering habitat for waterfowl, especially black
ducks, mallards, and wood ducks.
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah will acquire a 39-acre
tract containing a mix of grassy uplands and shallow wetlands.
The tract makes up excellent feeding areas for early arriving
migrants, especially dabbling ducks, and stopover spots for
waterfowl on their fall migration. In addition, white-faced ibis
use the area in the spring, while a variety of shorebirds stay
through spring and summer.
New North American Wetlands Conservation Fund Projects:
Using the $1 million approved by the commission and $1.9 million
of their own contributions, partners will enhance 26,000 acres of
Suisun Marsh in Solano County, California. This project will
benefit 30 species of waterfowl; fisheries such as salmon,
splittail, and smelt; several endangered species, and others that
would likely reach that status without conservation efforts. In
addition to private landowners, partners include the California
Department of Fish and Game, Suisun Resource Conservation
District, and Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
In Bibb and Twiggs Counties, Georgia, partners will use the $1
million approved by the commission and another $1.7 million of
their monies for the Ocmulgee Greenway-Rivercare 2000 Project,
comprising nearly 1,200 acres and establishing a continuous
greenway along Ocmulgee River through Bond Swamp National
Wildlife Refuge to Warner Robins Air Force Base. The riverine
areas, swamps, forests, and bottomland hardwoods, interspersed
with creeks and oxbow lakes, support songbirds and waterbirds as
well as bald eagles, alligators, and prime fisheries. Partners
are the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Trust for
Restoration of Grass Lake in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota, is the
goal of the Grass Lake Prairie Wetland Project approved by the
commission for $215,000 and matched by $265,000 from project
partners. The Kandiyohi Soil and Water Conservation District and
the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources will acquire
conservation easements on 466 wetland and upland acres of the
Grass Lake Basin from participating landowners. Grass Lake
provides habitat for 24 species of waterfowl, including blue- and
green-winged teal, shoveler, gadwall, and ruddy ducks, as well as
shore- and waterbirds like the Clark's grebe, black tern, and
Forty counties in Michigan will benefit from restoration of 1,750
acres of wetlands and uplands approved by the commission. About
225 wetland basins averaging 1-3 acres will be restored, as will
surrounding upland habitat, and coordinated land management
assistance will be provided by various partner agencies.
Restoration will benefit waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds, and
endangered wildlife. Partners include the Michigan Association of
Conservation Districts; Ducks Unlimited, Inc.; Pheasants Forever;
Wetlands Foundation of West Michigan; Michigan Department of
Agriculture; Michigan United Conservation Clubs; and private
landowners, who matched a total of $164,000 to the $105,000 the
commission approved for the project. The Michigan Department of
Natural Resources and Natural Resources Conservation Service
The $250,000 the commission approved for the Dutch Gap
Conservation Area Project will acquire 810 acres of wetlands and
uplands along the James River in Chesterfield County, Virginia to
be managed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland
Fisheries. In addition to waterfowl, the area supports bald
eagles, shorebirds, songbirds, great blue heron rookeries, and
recreational fisheries. The project area will be open to fishing,
hunting, birdwatching, and environmental education. Nearly $1.4
million will be contributed by project partners, including Tarmac
Industries, Virginia Electric Power Company, the National Fish
and Wildlife Foundation, Moncure Duncan Real Estate, and the
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission
With passage of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act in 1929, the
Migratory Bird Conservation Commission was established to approve
land acquisitions for the National Wildlife Refuge System that
are considered important to waterfowl.
Since its inception, the commission has approved more than 4.5
million-acres-worth of land acquisitions for the 92-million-acre
National Wildlife Refuge System, the only network of federal
lands dedicated to wildlife.
The commission's responsibilities increased significantly upon
passage of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989,
which provides funding to encourage partnerships to protect,
enhance, and restore wetlands and other habitats for migratory
birds and wildlife in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Since the wetlands conservation program's inception, the
commission has approved more than $205 million toward projects
benefitting migratory birds and other wildlife, with an
additional $420 million provided by project partners, affecting
more than 3.3 million acres in the United States and Canada.
These funds also have been used in Mexico for its community
education, management, and training programs affecting nearly 21
million acres in biosphere reserves.
The commission meets three times each year to review proposals
for refuge acquisitions and wetlands conservation projects.
Refuge acquisitions are financed by the Migratory Bird
Conservation Fund, including revenue collected from Federal Duck
Stamp sales to hunters, stamp collectors, and other
conservationists; appropriations; import duties collected on arms
and ammunition; and receipts from national wildlife refuge
Wetlands conservation projects are financed by the North American
Wetlands Conservation Fund, made up of appropriations; fines,
penalties, and forfeitures under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act;
and interest accrued on another fund the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Members of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission are the
Secretary of the Interior, who serves as chairman; two members of
the U.S. Senate (John Breaux and Thad Cochran); two members of
the U.S. House of Representatives (John Dingell and Curt Weldon);
the Secretary of Agriculture; and the Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency.
The commission was established largely in response to public
concern over plummeting waterfowl populations during the
"Dust Bowl" days of the 1920s and '30s, reflecting the
National Wildlife Refuge System's early commitment to waterfowl
protection. Many national wildlife refuges acquired with
Migratory Bird Conservation Fund monies are located along the
four major waterfowl "flyways," serving as vital
stepping stones for birds on their long annual migrations.
While its importance to waterfowl remains, the Refuge System
today hosts a variety of habitats supporting all kinds of
wildlife, including many of the nation's endangered species, big
game animals like buffalo and elk, prairie wildflowers and
cypress forests, trophy trout and tiny butterflies.
Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the 94-year-old
National Wildlife Refuge System is now made up of 511 refuges and
38 wetland management districts in all 50 states and U.S.
territories. More than 30 million people annually visit refuges
for a variety of recreational activities, such as birdwatching,
fishing, hunting, and nature photography, while hundreds of
thousands of schoolchildren visit refuges each year to learn
about nature and the environment.
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