Top stories for Oct. 20, 2009
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Ducks Unlimited first vice president talks
coastal restoration with senior administration official
John Newman, first vice president for Ducks Unlimited, attended a listening session with one of President Obama's top environmental policy advisers, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, to discuss the importance of restoring the Gulf Coast to Louisiana and the rest of the nation.
"We are glad the [Obama] administration is prioritizing and nationalizing the critical plight of Louisiana's coastal wetlands, and the important role that groups like Ducks Unlimited play in their restoration. We are happy to be a part of the discussion," said Newman. "Ducks Unlimited has completed restoration work on the Gulf Coast for decades, including building wetland terraces in degraded marshes, but a large-scale national effort is needed."
Ducks Unlimited has a long history of restoration projects on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, and recently completed a $15 million pledge to restore or enhance 52,000 wetland acres. Coastal restoration is a top conservation priority for DU because the Louisiana Gulf Coast may winter up to 9.2 million waterfowl, including large portions of the continental population of gadwall, green-winged teal, northern pintail and mottled ducks.
Clean water takes center stage
Protecting wetlands and clean water stole the spotlight at a recent House of Representatives committee hearing, as the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee conducted an investigation into the state of the Clean Water Act in the United States, nearly 40 years after it was passed.
Certain wetlands and streams are at risk of losing Clean Water Act protections in the wake of a pair of Supreme Court cases. Ducks Unlimited and other sportsmen's groups have been working to restore these protections for the benefit of habitat, but also for all of America's drinking water.
"Abundant clean water is a big issue for sportsmen, especially at this time of year when waterfowl and other game seasons are opening," said Dr. Scott Yaich, director of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited. "With more than 20 million acres of wetlands at risk, not having clean water is a threat for waterfowlers gearing up for the season."
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson told the committee her agency was putting a plan in place to begin addressing some of these issues. The EPA, along with several other Cabinet departments and agencies, sent letters to Congress earlier this year, urging them to enact legislation to protect our wetlands and waters.
Please take a moment to contact your members of Congress and urge them to restore Clean Water Act protections to wetlands and other waters that have lost them.
Ducks Unlimited continues targeting wetland invasive species
Ducks Unlimited recently received funding to assist in the fight against invasive plant species, which threaten the health of the Great Lakes. Late last week, the Senate approved $155,000 for invasive weed removal based on a request submitted by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) earlier this year.
"I am so proud to have helped secure this funding which will help protect our most precious resource," said Stabenow. "Fighting phragmites and other invasive species will help restore our lakes, provide a boost to our economy and preserve our Michigan way of life."
Funding will address the development of long-term controls and management assistance, as well as outreach and education efforts to landowners, communities and other agencies regarding the destruction of the invasive plant Phragmites australis. This plant has negatively impacted wetlands throughout the United States, and it has been particularly aggressive on the Great Lakes. Phragmites grows and spreads aggressively in shallow wetlands and waterways through the Great Lakes, eliminating natural vegetation and degrading fish and wildlife habitat. Because of its tall, dense growth, it obscures views and reduces the ecological functions and values of wetlands.
House approves wetlands enhancement bill
The bill to enhance the already successful North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) is halfway to becoming law as the House of Representatives unanimously approved the measure, sending it on to the Senate. The bill would increase the availability of funds to match federal grants to restore habitat in Canada.
Congressman Rob Wittman (Va.), the sponsor of the bill (H.R. 3433), encouraged his colleagues to pass the legislation.
"Broad support exists for amending this legislation, and given the overwhelming interest in protecting wildlife habitats, we shouldn't waste another moment or dime in failure to act on this legislation," said Wittman.