Top stories for Dec. 8, 2009
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Conservation tax incentives need your help
Time is running out for conservation easement tax incentives. Without action by Congress, these popular and effective conservation tools will expire at the end of 2009.
Conservation easements are voluntary and are good for landowners because they lower their tax bills. Ducks Unlimited supports these measures because many of the remaining wetlands in the United States are on private land. Landowners keep their land and waterfowl and wildlife benefit—a true win-win situation.
The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have introduced bills to extend these incentives. Now is the time to contact your members of Congress and ask them to make sure these bills pass before Dec. 31, 2009.
Wetlands bill has day in Congress
A bill to improve the popular North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) continues to be a hot topic on Capitol Hill. A Senate panel discussed the bill and is expected to vote on sending it to the Senate later this week.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works' Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife examined H.R. 3433, a bill to enhance NAWCA to allow for more investment in Canadian waterfowl habitat projects. Millions of ducks and geese breed in the prairies and boreal forests of Canada before flying south to the United States every year.
The bill, authored by Migratory Bird Conservation Commission member Rep. Robert Wittman, would enable more funding from Canadian sources to match the investments being made by U.S. federal grants.
To date, more than $1 billion in federal grants has leveraged more than $3 billion in other funds to conserve more than 25 million acres of habitat across North America.
Ducks Unlimited, Outdoor Heritage expand winning partnership
Ducks Unlimited doubled its shallow-lake restoration projects under Minnesota's Outdoor Heritage Fund, as work plans for three new projects were approved recently by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. Ducks Unlimited will oversee these projects.
The three projects include building water control structures and fish barriers at 1,166-acre Rice Lake in Faribault County, 440-acre Curtis Lake in Yellow Medicine County and 316-acre Jennie Lake in Douglas County. Work will continue through next spring.
"Enhancement of these important shallow-lake projects is now imminent," said Jon Schneider, manager of Minnesota conservation programs for DU. "Ducks and hunters alike will find improved conditions at these lakes in the near future."
Shallow-lake enhancement projects are complex and take years to complete. Assessment surveys to determine basin condition are conducted by DNR shallow lakes program field staff to initiate the project process, followed by detailed survey and design work by DU and DNR, and ultimately structure construction and lake management after all necessary easements and permits are received.
The projects are all the result of a constitutional amendment providing dedicated conservation funding to projects like these. The amendment was approved by Minnesota voters in 2008.
Additional project funding was secured by DNR and DU from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Flint Hills Resources and DU Major Sponsors.