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Policy News 1.16

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Top stories for Sept. 15, 2009
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Sen. Lincoln at the Ducks Unlimited Federal City Chapter Dinner

Waterfowl conservationist leading Senate agriculture panel

Senator Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission and leader for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) is the new chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. Ducks Unlimited supports her in her new role, where she will oversee programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program.




Wetlands conservation reaches milestone

Wetlands conservation passed a major milestone recently when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) program has allocated more than $1 billion in federal grants.

"This is a huge milestone for a program that has conserved more than 25.4 million acres of wetlands and waterfowl habitat across North America," said Dr. Alan Wentz, Ducks Unlimited senior group manager for conservation, communications and marketing. Wentz sits on the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, which helps select projects funded by the program. "Ducks Unlimited is proud to be one of the thousands of partners that have contributed to the success of the program."

In addition to the $1 billion in grants from the federal government, more than $2 billion in matching funds have been put into the more than 1,900 projects on the ground – more than double the federal government's investment in the program. Each dollar allocated to a NAWCA project by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must be matched by at least $1 from other sources – usually state governments, non-profit groups like Ducks Unlimited and other community groups.

One of projects that helped bring the total over $1 billion is a project to restore part of the Lake Michigan watershed that will restore more than 2,000 acres of emergent, forested, and scrub-shrub wetlands and adjacent uplands.

Approximately $2 million in matching and non-matching partner funds and $989,000 in NAWCA grant funds will protect, restore, and enhance emergent and forested wetland habitat critical to waterfowl in SW Michigan. Many of the functions and values of these former wetlands have the potential to be restored by plugging drainage ditches and creating low head embankments. Conservation projects are expected to take place over the next four years with projects beginning in the summer of 2010.

Learn more about the Lake Michigan NAWCA project




New measure to protect priority waterfowl habitat area

Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland recently introduced a draft bill to reauthorize the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Chesapeake Bay Program. The legislation focuses primarily on increased enforcement of the nutrient reduction goals set by the Chesapeake Bay watershed states and the EPA.

An area of specific interest to DU is new federal grants that could increase DU's wetland restoration efforts in the watershed. The legislation also calls for increased funding for nutria eradication in the Chesapeake Bay. DU's Conservation Programs Committee saw firsthand the destruction nutria have caused to wetlands at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The legislation is expected to have hearings this fall.

Also around the Chesapeake Bay, DU and partners have just completed a project in the Hail Cove section of the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, which will restore a section of marsh that will help stop the erosion that has contributed to the degradation of the Chesapeake Bay.

Earlier this summer, low-profile headland breakwaters were constructed to reduce wave energy and sand was placed along the existing shoreline to provide an environment suitable for bay grasses and emergent plants. Now the restoration project will be completed with planting marsh grasses by volunteers and students from Rock Hall Elementary School. In addition, volunteers from Washington College Center for Environment and Society will restore a nearby oyster reef.

"Protecting Hail Cove will preserve submerged aquatic vegetation that is so critical to migratory waterfowl," said Marvin Moriarty, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Regional Director. "This living shoreline project will reduce shore erosion and create marsh and reef habitat for Chesapeake Bay wildlife such as blue crabs, diamondback terrapins, fish, oysters and mussels."

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