As part of a suite of wetlands acquisition and conservation grant approvals, the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission today approved $4 million to purchase more than 18,000 acres of prime prairie wetland and associated grassland habitat for the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Minnesota – one of the largest purchases ever using dollars generated from Federal Duck Stamp sales and import duties on firearms and ammunition.
Chaired by Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, the Commission – comprised of members of Congress and federal cabinet secretaries – also approved the purchase of an additional three thousand acres of waterfowl habitat for inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
“The purchase of these lands for the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge symbolizes the tremendous investment our nation’s sportsmen and women have made to natural resource conservation through their purchase of Federal Duck stamps, and through the import duties paid on firearms and ammunition,” said Secretary Kempthorne. “Their contribution helps ensure the songs and sounds of waterfowl and other wetland dependent wildlife will be enjoyed by all Americans for years to come.”
The acquisition of the 18,118 acres for the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge in Polk County, Minnesota will provide important wetland and grassland habitat for waterfowl species including the mallard, northern pintail, blue-winged teal, ring-necked duck, Canada goose and tundra swan.
The Commission's approval of refuge acquisitions also secured breeding, resting and feeding habitat that will be added to three other National Wildlife Refuges. Projects securing additional wetlands include:
- Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Washington and Yamhill Counties, Oregon – Acquisition of 180 acres supporting the tundra swan, mallard, northern pintail, canvasback, ring-necked duck, lesser scaup, and Canada goose species, including dusky, lesser, Taverner, cackling, western, and the Aleutian subspecies.
- Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Camden, Gates and Pasquotank Counties, North Carolina – Acquisition of 1,481 acres to protect wetland forests that provide important nesting, feeding, and resting habitat for waterfowl, including the American black duck, wood duck, mallard, and Canada goose.
- Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, Oxford County, Maine – Acquisition of 1,129 acres to protect wetland habitat for the American black duck, ring-necked duck, common goldeneye, wood duck, common merganser, and hooded merganser.
The Commission also approved more than $24 million in federal funding to protect, restore, enhance and manage more than 107,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitats in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). The grants are funded by annual Congressional appropriations; fines, penalties and forfeitures levied under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; interest accrued on funds under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act; and excise taxes paid on small engine fuels through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Fund.
This total includes $19.7 million for four Canadian projects that will benefit North American migratory waterfowl on nearly 80,000 acres in 12 provinces and territories across Canada. It also includes nearly $640,000 for two projects that will help protect 2,470 acres in Mexico. Partners will contribute an additional $33 million for these six projects.
The Commission also authorized more than $1.67 million to fund 27 projects under the NAWCA U.S. Small Grants program. These projects were previously approved for funding, along with 35 others, by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, and will restore, enhance or protect more than 28,657 acres in 24 states. Partners will contribute another $29 million toward these projects.
The Commission meets three times a year and includes Senators Thad Cochran and Blanche Lincoln, Representatives John Dingell and Wayne Gilchrest, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne serving as Chairman.
More information about NAWCA grant programs and summaries of the projects approved today is available on the Web at: http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NAWCA/index.shtm.