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Top stories for Oct. 27, 2009
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Waterfowl habitat program to be revitalized

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to reach full enrollment in one of its most popular and successful habitat conservation programs, the Wetlands Reserve Program, in the next three years.

By September 2012, the USDA aims to increase enrollment from the 2.2 million acres in the program at the end of September 2009 to the full allowable enrollment of more than 3 million acres.

"This is great news for farmers and duck hunters," said Dan Wrinn, director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited. "Partnering with the USDA to put more habitat on the ground is always a win-win."

Ducks Unlimited will work with the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to reach this goal, which will benefit waterfowl across the country. DU already has helped enroll and improve more than 250,000 acres in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, one of the hotspots for wintering waterfowl.

The Wetlands Reserve Program is popular with farmers that want to conserve their marginal farmland. The voluntary program was reauthorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.




Migratory bird habitat bill up for vote

The House Natural Resources Committee will continue to promote migratory bird habitat conservation this week as the committee votes on a bill to reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Act on Wednesday.

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Act has been beneficial to waterfowl and other bird habitat conservation efforts across North America, conserving more than 1.9 million acres of habitat in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Much like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Neotropical Migratory Bird Act requires private and other non-federal funds to match the grants for the federal government. To date, federal grants of more than $25.5 million have leveraged more than $122 million in other funds.

The bill before the committee (H.R. 2213) would reauthorize the program through 2015 and increase the authorized funding for projects.




Senate to examine wetlands bill

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has announced it will hold a hearing on a bill to enhance the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

The bill, introduced by Migratory Bird Conservation Commission member Congressman Rob Wittman (Va.), would amend the popular and successful program to allow funds from Canada to count toward the required matching funds for federal grants.

The hearing is set for early December.

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