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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228


 March 8, 2004

Contacts:  Harvey Wittmier  303-236-8130
                   Diane Katzenberger 303-236-3478

 Prairie Pothole Region to Receive $21 Million for Habitat Acquisition

 The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide $21 million, which represents 50% of this year’s Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, to the waterfowl production area program within the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture to support wetland and grassland acquisition in the Prairie Pothole Region – a mosaic of prairie wetlands from Montana through North and South Dakota into Minnesota and Iowa. 

 The Prairie Pothole Joint Venture (PPJV) is guided by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, a partnership of individuals, organizations, and agencies representing Canada, the United States, and Mexico whose goal is to conserve wetlands and increase waterfowl and wetland bird populations.

 The PPJV provides on-the-ground protection, restoration, and enhancement of high priority wetland and grassland habitat in the prairie pothole region.

 The prairie pothole region is the most important waterfowl producing region on the continent, generating more than half of North America’s ducks. Of the 800 migratory bird species in North America, more than 300 rely on this region – 177 species for breeding and nesting habitat and another 130 for feeding and resting during spring and fall migrations. 

 Over the last century, much of the prairie pothole region has been converted to intensively cultivated cropland and heavily grazed or hayed grasslands.  This loss of habitat has caused steeper, more consistent and more widespread declines in grassland birds over the past 25 years than any other North American bird group.

 “We are at a critical juncture for migratory bird conservation in the prairie pothole region and this money made available through the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund will allow us to fund easements and purchase key tracts of land while they are still available,” said Ralph Morgenweck, the Service’s Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region.  “The Service remains a committed partner in the joint venture and we are confident that this additional funding will accelerate protection of these important landscapes.”

 "I hope that this is the first year of a long-term commitment of funding at this level provided by the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund for the prairie landscape.  The Prairie Pothole Joint Venture's approach to habitat conservation has been so successful that, at this time, there are far more willing sellers than money available,” said Jeff  Nelson, Director of Ducks Unlimited's Great Plains Region.

 “It’s good science, it’s good policy, it’s good for the ducks, pheasants and other wildlife.  Pheasants Forever applauds this decision,” said Joe Duggan, Vice President of Corporate Relations and Marketing for Pheasants Forever.

  “The Prairie Pothole Joint Venture has an admirable track record of working through partnerships to protect landscapes important to both wildlife and the economies of the prairies,” said Morgenweck. “This year’s funding will provide the opportunity to acquire these increasingly rare tracts of prairie habitats benefiting a wide variety of native plants, migratory birds, and other prairie-related species.”

 The Migratory Bird Conservation Fund is subsidized through the sale of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp – more commonly know as the Duck Stamp.  Proceeds are used to purchase wetlands and associated upland habitats for inclusion in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System.  Since the program’s inception, Duck Stamp sales have raised more than half-a-billion dollars to conserve more than 5 million acres of crucial habitat throughout the United States and its territories. 

 The PPJV’s numerous habitat protection, restoration, and enhancement projects have been completed using money provided through partner contributions, the North American Wetland’s Conservation Act, and the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund.

 The PPJV membership includes South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Iowa Department of Natural Resources; North Dakota Game and Fish Department; Natural Resources Conservation Service; North Dakota Natural Resources Trust; Delta Waterfowl Foundation; Wildlife Management Institute; National Audubon Society; Ducks Unlimited, Inc.; Bureau of Land Management; The Nature Conservancy; Pheasants Forever; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 Note to editors:  The following PPJV partners are available for media interviews:

Ducks Unlimited:

·        Jeff Nelson, Director of the Great Plains Region 701-355-3511

Pheasants Forever:

  • Joe Duggan, Vice President of Corporate Relations and Marketing 651-773-2000

Iowa Department of Natural Resources:

·        Richard Bishop, Chief of the Wildlife Division 515-281-6156

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:

·        Tim Bremicker, Director of the Wildlife Section 651-297-4960

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks:

·        Tom Hinz, Montana Wetlands Legacy Coordinator  406-994-7889

North Dakota Game and Fish Department

·        Ken Sambor, North American Waterfowl Management Plan Coordinator 701-328-6326

·        Mike Johnson, waterfowl biologist 701-328-6319

South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks

·        George Vandel, Technical Services Assistant Director for the Division of Wildlife 605-773-3387

·        Tim Olson, Senior Wetlands Biologist  605-773-3387

 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, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management 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 Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies. For more information about the Fish and Wildlife Service, please visit our web site at





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