WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior today announced that more than $146 million in funding has been approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, providing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners the ability to help conserve or restore 242,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds across North America – including Canada and Mexico.
The Commission approved more than $50.9 million in North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants that will be matched by more than $73.4 million in partner funds. In addition, the Commission approved more than $21.7 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve land on five national wildlife refuges across four states. The acquisitions will expand public opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and outdoor recreational access.
“The North American Wetlands Conservation Act is among our most successful tools for the conservation of migratory birds throughout the United States and beyond our borders,” said Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz. “The investments in these locally led conservation projects will provide the essential resources to ensure long-term survival of migratory birds for the benefit of future generations. These projects are great examples of the work we are accomplishing through the Administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, which supports locally led and locally designed conservation efforts and restoration approaches.”
“Wetlands provide many economic, ecological and social benefits to the surrounding communities,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “They also provide important protections from the effects of such as flooding and rising seas. NAWCA grants conserve bird populations and wetland habitat while supporting local economies and outdoor recreational opportunities, such as hunting, fishing and birdwatching.”
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is chaired by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and authorized under NAWCA. The Commission has helped in conserving much of the nation’s most important waterfowl habitat and in establishing or enhancing many of the country’s most popular destinations for waterfowl hunting and birding. Since 1991, more than $2 billion in funds, matched by more than $4.2 billion in partner funds, have been approved by the Commission, totaling $6 billion for wetland conservation.
NAWCA is the only federal grant program dedicated 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 6,600 partners in over 3,200 projects. Through NAWCA, federal funds are typically leveraged at twice the legally required dollar-for-dollar non-federal match-to-grant ratio.
Partners in NAWCA projects include private landowners, state and local governments, Tribes, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups, land trusts and corporations. More information on these NAWCA grants is available on the Service’s web site.
The funding to conserve 5,401 acres for five national wildlife refuges through the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund was derived primarily from the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as Duck Stamps, and import duties on imported arms and ammunition. Since 1934, the Federal Duck Stamp Program has provided more than $1.1 billion for habitat conservation in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
These funds will be used to purchase waterfowl habitat at the following national wildlife refuges:
- Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana – $1,466,000 to acquire 548 acres.
- Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge in Kentucky – $6,621,000 to acquire 2,482 acres.
- Green River National Wildlife Refuge in Kentucky – $11,372,000 to acquire 1,335 acres.
- Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in New Hampshire – $1,066,450 to acquire 797 acres.
- Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in Washington – $1,255,248 to acquire 239 acres.
While Duck Stamps are required for waterfowl hunters as an annual license, anyone can contribute to conservation by buying them. A current Federal Duck Stamp is also a pass into any that charges an entry fee. Because nearly all of the proceeds are used to conserve habitat for birds and other wildlife, outdoor enthusiasts including birders and nature photographers buy Duck Stamps to help preserve some of the most diverse and important wildlife habitats in our nation.
Additional information about North American wetlands and migratory bird conservation can be found on the Service’s Migratory Bird Program web page, where waterfowl enthusiasts, biologists and agency managers can find the most up-to-date waterfowl habitat and population information.