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For Immediate Release:
March 23, 2006
Contact: Hugh Vickery
(202 )208-6416

Interior Department Issues Report on Cooperative Conservation Accomplishments during Tenure of Secretary Gale Norton

WASHINGTON — The Department of Interior today released an accomplishment report on the department's cooperative-conservation initiatives during the five-year tenure of Secretary Gale Norton.

The report, titled "Sustaining Land and Habitat for Wildlife through Cooperative Conservation," highlights the department's success in promoting cooperative conservation through record amounts of funding; improving habitat on millions of acres of public land; strengthening the relationship with the hunting and angling community; promoting best- management practices for managing multipurpose lands; and recovering wildlife populations through partnerships.

For example, the report shows that from 2002 to 2006, the department provided $2.1 billion in grants to states, private landowners, hunting and fishing organizations and other conservation groups to preserve open space, to restore habitat and to conserve species.

In 2007, the department's budget proposes $322.3 million in cooperative conservation programs, an increase of more than $227 million, or 239 percent, since 2000.

"We have made great strides for conservation through the power of partnership with states, tribes, sporting groups, local communities, private landowners and others," Norton said. "We have proven that the Four C's - conservation through communication, consultation and cooperation - benefit our wildlife and its habitat far more than heavy-handed regulation."

The report particularly highlights the department's commitment to ensuring that America's hunting and fishing tradition remains strong.

"Hunters and anglers have been the backbone of conservation in this country for more than a century," Norton said. "We have worked hard to ensure that public lands remain open to hunting and that sportsmen and sportswomen are consulted on our conservation policies and initiatives."

Examples of accomplishments cited in the report include the following:

  • Since 2001, 16 million acres of wetland and associated upland habitat have been restored, protected, and enhanced through North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants.
  • The National Wildlife Refuge System received a record level of funding, growing 27 percent from 2001 to 2006.
  • More than 16 million acres of forests and rangelands have been treated to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and to improve the habitat of a variety of wildlife species.
  • Under the Coastal Program, nearly 65,000 acres of coastal wetlands, 12,300 acres of native grasslands, and 659 miles of streams have been restored and conserved through 364 partnerships since 2001. The program also has assisted communities and nongovernmental organizations to protect more than 735,000 acres of wetlands and native grasslands, as well as nearly 118 miles of stream and streamside habitat.
  • Under the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, 10,600 voluntary partnership agreements with landowners have restored 175,000 acres of wetlands, more than 950,000 acres of native grassland prairie and uplands and 2,400 miles of streams.
  • Since 2001, the Fish Passage Program has removed 370 barriers across the country. The 2006 projects alone will open 1,440 acres and more than 556 miles of waterways for fish, contributing to larger populations and to more recreational fishing opportunities.
The full report is available on the Web at