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Policy News 1.17

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Top stories for Sept. 22, 2009
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Ducks Unlimited appears before Congress to urge expansion of historic wetlands conservation program

Ducks Unlimited Director of Governmental Affairs Scott Sutherland took part in a hearing before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife to advocate for expanding the popular North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).

Sutherland testified on a bill introduced by Migratory Bird Conservation Commission member Congressman Rob Wittman (Va.) that would expand the program's ability to restore and conserve habitat across the country. Read the full text of the bill.

"NAWCA is one of the most successful conservation programs in history – the federal investment has leverage literally billions of matching dollars from conservationists, local governments and others, and has conserved millions of acres of wetlands and waterfowl habitat," said Sutherland. "Congressman Wittman's bill will help the program continue its success far into the future."

Also on the docket for the hearing was the reauthorization of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, another bill that has helped restore migratory bird habitat throughout the migratory range, from Canada down into Latin America. The subcommittee also heard comments on the Junior Duck Stamp program, which encourages a new generation of waterfowl conservationists to learn about protecting and conserving wetlands. Both of these programs were supported in DU's testimony.




Ducks Unlimited celebrates Iowa's inaugural Living Lakes project

A joint project between Ducks Unlimited and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is restoring a 166-acre lake to its former glory. Located in Dickson County, Diamond Lake is in the heart of Iowa's Great Lakes Region. Restoration activities included installing a new water control structure, outlet pipe and protective fish barrier.

Dedication of Iowa's Diamond Lake project.

"Diamond Lake represents DU's inaugural Living Lakes project in Iowa and will provide critical habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds that travel though the state each fall and spring," said DU Regional Biologist Eric Lindstrom. "The success of this project is a true testament to the commitment and dedication of a diverse group of partners that banded together to achieve a common goal of improving this shallow lake."

Poor water quality and invasive rough fish problems limited wildlife use on Diamond Lake. Following the renovations, DNR managers were able to draw down the lake in 2007 and 2008 and eradicate the rough fish. This spring, the DNR started to bring the lake water levels back up, and recent monitoring has shown an eight-fold increase in the number and diversity of aquatic plant species. Water clarity also has improved dramatically from less than 6 inches pre-renovation to over 3 feet post-renovation. Improved water quality will allow aquatic plants and wildlife to thrive.




House majority now supports conservation tax incentives bill

More than half the members of the House of Representatives have signed on to cosponsor the Conservation Easement Incentive Act of 2009 (H.R. 1831) which continues a provision that allows enhanced tax deductions to landowners that donate a conservation easement to a government or private nonprofit group like Ducks Unlimited.

The bill has gained support steadily all summer – more than 220 members of the House have co-sponsored the bill!

Visit Ducks Unlimited's Conservation Easement Donation Web page and see if your representative has signed on. If not, take action and send an e-mail reminding him/her of the important role conservation easements play in protecting waterfowl habitat for future generations of hunters.

Map of congressional support for the Conservation Easement Incentive Act




New report highlights need to protect clean water

The need to protect wetlands and other water sources from pollution and destruction is back in the spotlight with a New York Times investigative report on the impact polluted water has on humans in communities across the country.

More than 120 million people get their drinking water from sources that are fed in part or in whole by surface water that is not protected under the Clean Water Act. These wetlands and streams are also home to many species of waterfowl, fish and other wildlife.

Twenty million acres wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region – America's Duck Factory – are without Clean Water Act protections, threatening some of the most productive waterfowl breeding habitat in the world. Across the rest of the nation, geographically isolated wetlands are threatened by drainage and destruction because they lack protections of the Clean Water Act.

Wetlands act like kidneys in an ecosystem, and they are vital to filtering out some of the very chemicals that the New York Times report found in tainted water supplies. Ducks Unlimited and partners have been working with Congress and federal agencies to restore protections to the threatened areas, to ensure they won't be destroyed or polluted.

Visit the Ducks Unlimited Clean Water Action Center today to find out how you can help ensure that both ducks and families have clean, safe water.

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