Interior Department Announces More Than $87 Million for Wetland Conservation Projects and National Wildlife Refuges

Funding will help conserve or restore 315,823 acres of critical wetland habitat

Last edited 05/08/2024

Date: Wednesday, May 8, 2024

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced more than $87 million in funding has been approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, providing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners the ability to help conserve, restore or enhance 315,823 acres of critical wetland and associated upland habitat for migratory birds across North America – including Canada and Mexico. 

The Commission approved more than $84.3 million in North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants matched by more than $139.8 million in partner funds. In addition, the Commission approved more than $2.7 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve habitat on two national wildlife refuges across two states. The acquisitions will expand public opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and outdoor recreational access. 

“The North American Wetlands Conservation Act is one of the most effective tools we have for migratory bird conservation around the country. Funding for wetland and national wildlife refuge conservation projects will be pivotal in maintaining healthy bird populations, uplifting local economies and improving public access to recreational activities for future generations,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “The funding announced today further supports the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, which is focused on pursuing locally led, collaborative and inclusive efforts to conserve, connect and restore America’s lands and waters.” 

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior and authorized under NAWCA. The Commission has helped conserve much of the nation’s most important waterfowl habitat and establish or enhance many of the country’s most popular destinations for waterfowl hunting and birding.  

“Wetlands are one of the most important ecosystems in the world, providing essential habitat for more than one third of the bird species that breed in North America and billions of migratory birds across the Americas,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “Wetlands also help buffer communities from storms, sea level rise and are an important natural mechanism for clean water. Projects made possible through these grants will help protect, restore and enhance wetlands vital to migratory birds and many other species of wildlife and provide recreational opportunities and benefits for all Americans.” 

North American Wetlands Conservation Act 

NAWCA is the only federal grant program dedicated to the conservation of wetland habitats for migratory birds. Since 1991, more than $6.45 billion in funding has advanced the conservation of wetland habitats and their wildlife across more than 32 million acres of habitat in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico, while engaging nearly 7,000 partners in more than 3,300 projects. Through NAWCA, federal funds are typically leveraged at twice the legally required dollar-for-dollar non-federal match-to-grant ratio. Program partners include private landowners, state, Tribal and local governments, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups, land trusts and corporations. 

More than half of Endangered Species Act listed species rely on wetlands for essential habitat. The NAWCA funding approved today will benefit 18 ESA listed bird species and 77 species listed as Birds of Conservation Concern, which helps prevent species from being listed. 

More information on these NAWCA grants is available on the Service’s website

Migratory Bird Conservation Fund 

The funding to conserve 1,929 acres for two 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 $1.2 billion for habitat conservation in the National Wildlife Refuge System

These funds will be used to purchase waterfowl habitat at the following National Wildlife Refuges: 

  • Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland – $345,700 for 150 acres 
  • Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge in New Hampshire – $2,415,600 for 1,779 acres 

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.   

Additional information about migratory bird conservation can be found on the Service’s webpage.


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