Interior Department Announces More Than $111 Million in Funding for Wetland Conservation Projects and National Wildlife Refuges

Last edited 09/22/2021

Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2021


WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced that $34 million in grants has been approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, which will provide the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners the ability to help conserve or restore 177,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds in 20 states. The grants, made through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), will be matched by $74 million in partner funds.

In addition, the Commission, which is chaired by Secretary Haaland, approved $3.1 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve land in four national wildlife refuges for public use and hunt programs. The acquisitions will expand public opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, and environmental education, and interpretation, as well as increase public outdoor recreational access in urban communities, such as the Kansas City and Greater Chicago Metropolitan areas.

“These projects are great examples of the work we are accomplishing through the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, supporting locally led and locally designed conservation efforts and restoration approaches that will create jobs and support healthy communities,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Working together, we can improve the habitat of the birds we love while conserving lands for everyone to enjoy.”

Wetlands provide many economic, ecological and social benefits, including protections from the effects of climate change, 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.

Demonstrating that the value of wetlands extends far beyond waterfowl, over 60 species included in the recently released Birds of Conservation Concern 2021 report will benefit from these projects.

Partners in NAWCA projects include private landowners, states, local governments, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups, Tribes, land trusts and corporations. A complete list of the approved projects is available online.

The funding to conserve 816 acres for four 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.

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 national wildlife refuge 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.

These funds will be used to purchase waterfowl habitat at the following national wildlife refuges:

  • Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Missouri — $1,230,000 to acquire 413 acres of wetlands and surrounding uplands that provide wintering and migratory stopover habitat for buffleheads, greater scaup, and mallards, as well as other wetland-dependent migratory birds.
  • Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois — $1,032,720 to acquire 132 acres of wetlands and surrounding uplands that provide — habitat for American black ducks, blue-winged teal, mallards, and wood ducks, as well as other wetland-dependent migratory birds.
  • Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in New York — $300,000 to acquire 140 acres of emergent and forested wetlands and associated uplands that provide migratory stopover habitat for American black ducks, northern pintails, and wood ducks, as well as other wetland-dependent migratory birds.
  • Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois — $564,000 to acquire 131 acres including 80 acres of wetlands that will provide migratory stopover habitat for dabbling and diving duck species.

The Commission also received a report on 27 NAWCA small grants, which were approved by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council in February. Small grants are awarded for 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 $5 million. This year, $2.5 million in grants was matched by $8 million in partner funds.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior. Its members include Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack; Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan; U.S. Senators John Boozman of Arkansas and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico; and U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson of California and Robert J. Wittman of Virginia. 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 and birding. 

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 wildlife in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico, while engaging more than 6,500 partners in over 3,100 projects. Through NAWCA, federal funds are typically leveraged at twice the legally required dollar-for-dollar non-federal match-to-grant ratio.

Additional information about North American wetlands and migratory bird conservation can be found online, where waterfowl enthusiasts, biologists and agency managers can find the most up-to-date waterfowl habitat and population information.


Was this page helpful?

Please provide a comment