WASHINGTON – The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (Commission) today approved more than $27 million in funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to purchase, lease or otherwise conserve nearly 200,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds across the United States.
“From the Gulf Coast to the Prairie Potholes, we need to conserve habitat wherever birds migrate, breed or winter,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who chairs the Commission. “These projects are important to our ongoing work to protect, restore and enhance habitat to support our nation’s rich diversity of birds.”
Of the total funds approved by the Commission, $21.4 million will be provided through North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants to conserve more than 133,000 acres of wetlands and adjoining areas in 13 states. NAWCA is the only federal grant program dedicated to the conservation of wetland habitats for migratory birds. The Commission also approved expenditure of nearly $6.5 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve 3,274 acres for five national wildlife refuges through fee title land acquisitions and easement acquisitions.
To date, NAWCA funds have advanced conservation of more than 30 million acres of wetland habitats and their wildlife in all 50 states, engaging more than 5,400 partners in more than 2,500 projects. NAWCA grants are funded through federal appropriations as well as fines, penalties and forfeitures collected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; from federal fuel excise taxes on small gasoline engines, as directed by the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act; and from interest accrued on Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act funds.
Examples of projects include:
Grants made through this program require matching investments. The projects approved today will leverage an additional $45.3 million in nonfederal matching funds. A complete list of projects funded this year is available at http://www.fws.gov/birds/grants/north-american-wetland-conservation-act.php.
The $6.5 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund was raised partially through the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps (Duck Stamps), which help provide habitat for wildlife and increased opportunities for refuge visitors who hunt, bird-watch, photograph and view wildlife.
“Hunters, birdwatchers and refuge supporters have once again demonstrated the important role they play in conserving our nation’s wildlife,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The National Wildlife Refuge System preserves some of our nation’s most diverse and valuable wildlife habitat – lands that also provide millions of Americans the chance to get outside and experience nature, form vital buffers against flooding and storm damage, and generate millions of dollars for local economies. The money generated through the sale of Duck Stamps is essential in helping maintain and grow this unique network.”
For every dollar spent on federal Duck Stamps, 98 cents goes toward the acquisition or lease of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since 1934, the Federal Duck Stamp Program and Migratory Bird Conservation Fund have provided more than $800 million to acquire more than 5.7 million acres for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The Commission-approved refuge projects are:
An additional 45 small grants worth $3 million were awarded earlier by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council. The Commission created its Small Grants Program in 1996 to encourage new grantees and partners to carry out smaller-scale wetlands conservation projects that may otherwise not be able to compete in the U.S. Standard Grants Program. In June 2013, the Commission approved an annual $5 million spending limit for Small Grants, to be awarded at the discretion of the Council.
The Commission is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior. Its members include U.S. Senators Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico; Representatives Robert J. Wittman of Virginia and Mike Thompson of California; U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; and Gina McCarthy, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency.