Top stories for Oct. 13, 2009
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Threats to clean water instigate inquiry
With new threats to America's drinking water being discovered regularly, the U.S. House of Representatives Transporation and Infrastructure Committee is investigating renewing the commitment of the Clean Water Act to protect drinking water sources like wetlands and headwater streams.
Two Supreme Court cases muddied the waters of what is and is not covered by the Clean Water Act, and now more than 20 million acres of wetlands—many in the "Duck Factory" that is the Prairie Pothole Region—are at risk of being polluted or destroyed.
Ducks Unlimited and its partners have been working to highlight the need to protect these areas, not only for waterfowl, but also for other animals and people.
Supporters from farmers to wildlife professionals have rallied behind restoring protections to wetlands and streams that have lost them, supporting efforts by the Senate to clarify protections and ensure that the water that irrigates crops, shelters fish and wildlife and comes from the kitchen is clean and safe.
The hearing on clean, safe water will be held on Thursday, Oct. 15, at 10 a.m. and will be shown live on the committee's Web site at http://transportation.house.gov.
Contact your members of Congress and urge them to restore Clean Water Act protections to wetlands that have lost them. Remind them that the places that are good for waterfowl and wildlife also are good for guaranteeing that America's drinking water is safe and clean.
For more information on clean water protections, visit the Ducks Unlimited Clean Water Action Center. There, you can find resources, letters of support, maps that show where drinking water is at risk and ways you can get involved in the fight to ensure clean, safe water and protected wetlands.
USDA allocates nearly $2 billion to conservation
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest nearly $2 billion in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in the coming year, protecting approximately 31 million acres of marginal farmland for waterfowl and other wildlife.
In the announcement, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said, "President Obama and I are committed to conservation and environmental stewardship, and this program provides the tools and resources to enable America's producers to be responsible caretakers of their land. I encourage interested producers to consider enrolling their land through continuous sign-up opportunities."
CRP is a critical program for waterfowl, adding millions of ducks to the fall migration every year from land enrolled in the Prairie Pothole Region. The program is not as robust as it once was, however. The 2008 Farm Bill reduced the maximum available acreage from 39 million acres to 32 million acres.
Ducks Unlimited is working with the USDA to ensure that available CRP acres are directed toward areas and programs that benefit waterfowl.
Celebrate waterfowl hunters' investment in conservation
Since 1934, waterfowl hunters have been protecting habitat with the proceeds of federal duck stamps, and that land has been set aside as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is encouraging people to celebrate those areas during National Wildlife Refuge Week, held this year from Oct. 11-17.
In addition to events at refuges across the country the FWS also has created a Web site to help guide hunters to nearby refuges that are open to public hunting.
Ducks Unlimited and members of Congress have been working on a proposal to help the proceeds of the federal duck stamps protect more land for waterfowl. The Migratory Bird Investment and Enhancement Act, introduced by Congressman John Dingell (Mich.) and Rob Wittman (Va.), would adjust the buying power of the stamp to keep up with rising land costs.