Nicholas Throckmorton, 202/208-5636
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved the acquisition of more than 4,660 acres of important migratory bird habitat in Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Texas and Utah for the National Wildlife Refuge System at its June meeting in Washington, D.C.
The Cabinet-level commission, chaired by Interior Secretary Gale Norton, approved Migratory Bird Conservation funds of more than $4.5 million to acquire the land. All acquisitions had been previously approved by the affected states.
“Sportsmen and women have contributed a great deal to the development of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Interior Secretary Gale Norton. “Money raised by the sale of Federal Duck Stamps pays for these land acquisitions. Since the first Duck Stamp sale in 1934, about $675 million has been raised to purchase more than 5 million acres of wetlands for the refuge system.”
New National Wildlife Refuge System acquisitions approved by the Conservation Commission are:
Michigan: Acquisition of 153 acres of habitat for migratory waterfowl within the boundaries of Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge in Monroe County.
Idaho: Acquisition of 760 acres of wetland habitat within the boundaries of Grays Lake NWR in Bonneville County.
Texas: Acquisition of 1,344 acres to provide habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl within the boundaries of San Bernard NWR in Brazoria County.
Texas: Acquisition of 2,285 acres to preserve wetland habitat at Trinity River NWR in Liberty County.
Utah: Acquisition of 105 acres to provide habitat for migratory waterfowl within the boundary of Bear River NWR in Box Elder County.
Maine: Acquisition of 18 acres to protect habitat for wintering waterfowl within the boundary of Moosehorn NWR in Washington 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.
The Commission also accepted recommendations from the North American Wetlands Conservation Council and approved the protection or restoration of more than 1.6 million acres of wetlands. A total of $17 million was authorized under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which will be matched by nearly $33 million in partner funds to restore habitat in Canada.
“President Bush’s support for wetlands conservation was clearly evident last December when he signed into law the re-authorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, renewing his commitment and increasing the authorization for this outstanding program,” said Norton.
The Commission meets three times a year to approve funding proposals. Permanent Commission members are Interior Secretary Norton, Senators Thad Cochran and John Breaux; Representatives John Dingell and Curt Weldon; Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman; and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman.
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 540 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 governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid 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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
visit our homepage at http://www.fws.gov