A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Grants under North American Wetlands Conservation Act Pass $1 Billion Threshold, Salazar Announces
WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that the federal government has now made more than $1 billion in grants under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989, helping to conserve or restore more than 25.4 million acres of wetlands and associated habitat across the continent over the past two decades.
The milestone was passed when the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission voted to approve $33.4 million in matching grants to conserve 190,000 acres of wetlands. Under the Act, the funds will be matched or exceeded by private contributions.
“Today we mark an historic milestone in for what is not only one of our nation's most effective conservation laws but also one of its most effective conservation partnerships,” Salazar, who serves as chair of the commission, said. “While the federal government has made more than $1 billion in grants, our partners have contributed more than $2 billion in matching funds to conserve, enhance, and restore vital wetlands that provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife.”
At its meeting, the commission also approved the expenditure of nearly $8 million in Federal Duck Stamp funds to add more than 4,000 wetland acres to seven units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Wetlands provide many ecological, economic, and social benefits, including habitat for fish, wildlife, and a variety of plants. They serve as nurseries for many saltwater and freshwater fishes and shellfish of commercial and recreational importance. Wetlands also hold and slowly release flood waters, act as filters to cleanse water of impurities, and provide recreational and wildlife viewing opportunities for millions of people.
The commission includes Senators Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Representatives John Dingell of Michigan and Robert Wittman of Virginia, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, as well as state representatives as ex officio members who vote on projects located within their respective states.
The $33.4 million in grants approved today will support 34 projects in 24 states under NAWCA's U.S. Standard Grants Program. Partners in these projects will contribute an additional $89.3 million in matching funds to support these conservation efforts.
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.
Passed in 1989, NAWCA provides matching grants to organizations and individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Act was passed in part to support activities under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, an international agreement that provides a strategy for the long-term protection of wetlands and associated upland habitats needed by waterfowl and other migratory birds in North America.
The Commission also approved the purchase of wetlands that will be added to seven units of the National Wildlife Refuge System to secure breeding, resting, and feeding habitat. These acquisitions include:
Tulare Basin Wildlife Management Area, Kern and Tulare Counties, California – Acquisition of 1,042 acres of easements to protect wetlands and uplands to stop the gradual erosion of habitat to support Central Valley and Pacific Flyway waterfowl populations.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Dorchester County, Maryland – Acquisition of 823 acres to preserve marsh, shoreline, wooded swamp and forested upland habitat for migratory waterfowl.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Kent County, Delaware – Acquisition of 273 acres to promote and enhance habitat for a diversity of waterfowl, particularly migrating American black ducks.
Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge, Pondicherry and Mohawk River Divisions, Coos County, New Hampshire – Acquisition of 761 acres to preserve and protect important feeding, nesting, and resting habitat for migratory waterfowl.
Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, Box Elder County, Utah – Acquisition of 700 acres to allow for more efficient use of water resources on adjacent refuge lands which are critical for managing wetland habitat for migratory waterfowl.
Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, Coos County, New Hampshire and Oxford County, Maine – Acquisition of 438 acres of emergent and forested freshwater wetlands that provide nesting and brood-rearing habitat for migratory waterfowl.
Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge, Flathead County, Montana – Renewal of the lease of 240 acres from the State of Montana for the protection and management of wetland and riparian habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds.
These acquisitions are funded with the proceeds from sales of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, otherwise known as the Federal Duck Stamp. The stamp features the winner of the annual Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. This year's Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest – the nation's only federally sponsored annual art competition – will be held October 16 and 17 at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Md., 25 miles north of Washington, D.C. The winning art will be made into the 2010-2011 Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $15.
Additional information about the history on the ongoing efforts to conserve North America's wetlands and waterfowl can be found at Flyways.us. The website provides waterfowl enthusiasts, biologists and agency administrators with the most up-to-date waterfowl habitat and waterfowl population information.