News September 15, 2020

$130 Million in Public-Private Funding for Wetland Conservation Projects

by Jackson Hole Radio News

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, chaired by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt, approved more than $130 million in funding for various wetland conservation projects.

The 2020 North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants will be used to ensure waterfowl and other birds are protected throughout their life cycles. Of the projects approved, $33.3 million will be allocated for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to conserve or restore more than 157,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds for 32 projects in 21 states throughout the United States. These grants will be matched by almost $85 million in partner funds.

“The administration continues to take significant conservation actions benefiting all Americans, particularly hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. It has never been more important than now that we conserve our great outdoors and expand public access to public lands,” said Secretary Bernhardt.

“The administration continues to support wetland restoration and habitat conservation projects that benefit waterfowl and many other species while improving access to outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands for all Americans,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith.

“Wetlands and waterfowl habitat are disappearing at an alarming rate across North America,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam. “Thanks to the MBCC and Secretary Bernhardt, this funding will continue to expand efforts to protect and enhance wetlands habitat to ensure future generations have the same opportunity to enjoy nature as we have.”

“The North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) is the most successful international conservation effort in the world, protecting and restoring 193 million acres, an area greater than the State of Texas,” said President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Kelly Hepler.  “The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is proud to partner with the USFWS, Joint Ventures, and the many non-government agencies that have helped conserve North American wetlands over the past 30 years with the support of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission and funding provided through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).”

The commission also received a report on 34 NAWCA 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, $3.2 million in grants was matched by $7.8 million in partner funds.

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 6,300 partners in over 3,000 projects. More information about the grant projects is available here.

The commission also approved nearly $1 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve 419 acres on national wildlife refuges in three states. These funds were raised largely through the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as “Duck Stamps.”

Funds raised from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps go toward the acquisition or lease of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Duck Stamps – while required for 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.

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 National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is an unparalleled network of 568 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas. Refuges offer world-class public recreation, from fishing, hunting and wildlife observation to photography and environmental education. More than 55 million people visit refuges every year, creating economic booms for local communities.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior. Its members include Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico; Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas; Reps. Robert J. Wittman of Virginia and Mike Thompson of California; Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture; and EPA 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 the country’s most popular destinations for waterfowl hunting.

Additional information about North American wetlands and waterfowl conservation can be found at https://www.fws.gov/birds, which offers waterfowl enthusiasts, biologists and agency managers with the most up-to-date waterfowl habitat and population information.