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Midwest Region
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Interior announces more than $36 million to boost
wetland, waterfowl conservation, access to public lands:
Four Midwest Region projects among those awarded

Lake Puckaway sunset from Ne-Pee-Nauk Club, within the Green Bay Marquette Coastal II area that received a NAWCA grant. Photo by USFWS.

Lake Puckaway sunset from Ne-Pee-Nauk Club, within the Green Bay Marquette Coastal II area that received a NAWCA grant. Photo by USFWS.

By Vanessa Kauffman
Headquarters – External Affairs


Larry Dean
Regional Office – External Affairs

On September 5, the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, chaired by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, approved $23.8 million in grants for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to conserve or restore almost 135,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds in 17 states throughout the United States. The announcement was made by Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, who led the meeting on behalf of Secretary Zinke.

The grants, made through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), will be matched by over $60 million in partner funds. Conservation Act grants ensure waterfowl and other birds are protected throughout their life cycles.

Four of the funded projects are found in the Midwest region and include:

The Southwest Wetland Initiative of Minnesota IV: The project received a $1 million grant and has $6,275,421 in matching funds. The project will permanently protect 1,039 acres of wetland and upland habitat in the Minnesota portion of the Prairie Coteau. By increasing the size of this habitat complex through this project, species that rely on larger blocks will greatly benefit, including marbled godwit, bobolink and the grasshopper sparrow. Other benefits include reduced soil erosion and increased water quality for vegetation and other wetland animals and high-quality hunting and outdoor recreation opportunities.

The Prairie Lakes X Wetland Initiative in Iowa: The project received a $1 million grant and has $3,540,250 in matching funds. The project focus is wetland and grassland restoration to the Iowa portion of the Prairie Pothole Region, an area of continental importance to waterfowl and many other water birds, shorebirds and grassland birds. The project is anticipated to turn large isolated wetlands into the cornerstone of wetland grassland complexes, with the benefit to migrating birds of better nesting and brood rearing habitat.

The Minnesota River Prairies: The project received a $1 million grant and has $3,939,415 in matching funds. The project accelerates wetland and upland conservation with the addition of 433 acres of fee title, 1,621 acres in easement, restoring 15 acres of nesting cover and enhancing 575 acres of wetlands and uplands. Work will be enhanced by the construction of water control structures or other engineered solutions for water quality and quantity management, rough fish management and more. The project will benefit mallards, blue winged teal, gadwalls, northern pintails, American wigeon, northern shovelers, canvasbacks, redheads and ruddy ducks.

Green Bay – Marquette Coastal II in Wisconsin: The project received a $1 million grant and has $2,477,386 in matching funds. The project continues the initiative to protect, restore and enhance critical wetland habitat in portions of the Lake Michigan watershed within Wisconsin. The project will mainly focus on important wetland ecological areas for birds near the Green Bay West Shores and Lower Wolf River Bottoms Conservation Opportunity Areas in the Marquette-Waupaca Focus Area. The partner match will provide a variety of otherwise declining wetland habitat types that benefit a wide range of birds and other wildlife species.

“These projects provide tens of thousands of acres of hunting, fishing and recreational access, while strengthening important migration corridors and local economies,” said Deputy Secretary Bernhardt.

Wetlands provide many ecological, economic and social benefits such as habitat for fish, wildlife and a variety of plants. Conservation Act grants conserve bird populations and wetland habitat, while supporting local economies and American traditions such as hunting, fishing, birdwatching, family farming and cattle ranching.

The commission also heard a report on 37 Conservation Act small grants, which were approved by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council in February. Small grants are awarded for smaller projects up to $100,000 to encourage new grantees and partners to carry out smaller-scale conservation work. The commission has authorized the council to approve these projects up to a $5 million. This year, $3.4 million in grants were matched by $12.5 million in partner funds.

Conservation Act is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to the conservation of wetland habitats for migratory birds. Since 1989, funding has advanced the conservation of wetland habitats and their wildlife in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico, while engaging more than 6,000 partners in over 2,800 projects. More information about the grant projects is available here.

The commission also approved more than $13.1 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve 5,802 acres for six national wildlife refuges. These funds were raised largely through the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as “Duck Stamps.”

“The Duck Stamp program has been one of our most effective conservation tools for the last 80-plus years,” said Bernhardt. “These refuges and many others across the United States demonstrate how the millions of dollars that sportsmen and women contribute to the program add up to more wildlife and more places for all Americans to enjoy.”

Funds raised from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps goes toward the acquisition or lease of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Duck Stamps – while required by waterfowl hunters as an annual license – are also voluntarily purchased by birders, outdoor enthusiasts and fans of national wildlife refuges who understand the value of preserving some of the most diverse and important wildlife habitats in our nation.

The following national wildlife refuges are approved for funding:

  • Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana: $9,928,536
  • Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland: $833,000
  • Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge, Tennessee: $873,878
  • Erie National Wildlife Refuge, Pennsylvania: $215,000
  • Ouray National Wildlife Refuge, Utah: $34,300 (per year, lease)
  • San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, Texas: $1,255,500

Since 1934, the Federal Duck Stamp Program and Migratory Bird Conservation Fund have provided more than $1 billion for habitat conservation in the refuge system.

The Service is responsible for managing 566 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts spanning 150 million acres across the National Wildlife Refuge System. Refuges offer accessible world-class public recreation, from fishing, hunting and wildlife observation to photography and environmental education. More than 53 million people visit refuges every year, creating economic boons for local communities.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior. Its members include U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico; U.S. Senator John Boozman of Arkansas; Representatives Robert J. Wittman of Virginia and Mike Thompson of California; Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue; and Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The commission has helped in conserving much of this nation’s most important waterfowl habitat and in establishing or enhancing many of our Nation’s most popular destinations for waterfowl hunting.

Additional information about North American wetlands and waterfowl conservation can be found on our website, which offers waterfowl enthusiasts, biologists and agency managers with the most up-to-date waterfowl habitat and population information.

A Common Tern chick banded at Cat Island. Piping Plover and Common Term work associated with NAWCA grant awarded Tract 17 will add production to these priority species. Photo by USFWS.

A common tern chick banded at Cat Island in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Restoration work funded through a NAWCA grant this year will support priority species such as piping plovers and common terns. Photo by USFWS.

Last updated: October 10, 2018