Top stories for Sept. 29, 2009
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New initiative intended to restore America's largest watershed
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently announced a new initiative to restore the health of the Mississippi River Basin, from the upper reaches in Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota all the way to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. The new Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) will provide approximately $320 million over the next four years to projects in 12 states throughout the watershed.
"This is a tremendous initiative for restoring a watershed that millions of migrating waterfowl use every year," said Dan Wrinn, director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited. "The Mississippi Alluvial Valley is the most important wintering habitat for mallards, and the lower portion of the Mississippi Delta winters 10-25 percent of the canvasbacks in North America."
The 12 states that will be involved in the MRBI are Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
New partnership to restore water-starved San Joaquin River
Ducks Unlimited and 10 other conservation groups have formed a new partnership to restore the second-largest river in California. The San Joaquin River flows through critical waterfowl habitat area in California's Central Valley.
The new San Joaquin River Partnership will work with landowners, state and federal agencies and community groups to implement the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Program.
On sportsmen's holiday weekend, policy takes spotlight
Sept. 26 was National Hunting and Fishing Day, set aside by Congress every year to acknowledge the importance of hunters and anglers to the U.S. conservation tradition.
Hunters and anglers contribute more than $76 billion to the U.S. economy every year, but threats to clean water and habitat continue to jeopardize an American tradition.
Ducks Unlimited continues to work to restore clean water protections to wetlands and waterfowl habitat, improve hunter access and work with farmers and landowners to find practical ways to conserve their land for current and future benefits.
Future of North American Wetlands Conservation Act up for vote
Shortly after Ducks Unlimited Director of Governmental Affairs Scott Sutherland testified before the House Natural Resources Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee on the need to enhance the popular and successful North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), a vote on the bill was scheduled for Sept. 30 in the full committee. Once the bill is passed at the committee level, it will be sent to the House floor for a vote, and then on to the Senate.
The amendment to NAWCA would encourage more investment into the program, which requires at least $1 in matching funds for each $1 in federal grants. Since the program is so popular, projects completed through NAWCA generally have at least $2 in matching funds for each dollar in grants.
In other NAWCA news, the Senate has passed its version of the Interior Appropriations bill, which contains the annual funding for NAWCA. The Senate approved $45.1 million for the program for fiscal year 2010 – over $2 million more than last year, but less funding than the House approved, and the President recommended for the program. The House and the Senate will now meet to reach a consensus on funding NAWCA and the other programs in the bill.