Top stories for Jan. 5, 2010
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Prospects dim for wetland protections in 2010
As the second session of the 111th Congress dawns, prospects for protecting wetlands through legislation are beginning to dim... While a bill to restore wetland protections that were lost in 2001 and 2006—the Clean Water Restoration Act—passed a Senate committee in June, there is unlikely to be a floor vote or a companion bill in the House before the end of the term.
Restoring these protections has become a hot-button issue, as opponents of the bill have effectively used scare tactics and fear mongering to put the brakes on what is now seen as a very controversial bill—even though all it would do is restore wetland regulations to their 2001 status. However, after a bitter and divisive vote on health care, even traditional supporters of waterfowl habitat are shying away from further controversy as the 2010 elections near.
While the prospects are not promising for this year, there is still a lot you can do to make sure wetland protections stay on Congress's radar:
- Visit your members of Congress while they are home: Congress does not come back into session until later in January, so many members of Congress are in their home state and districts, and are likely available for a meeting. Find contact information at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.
- Take action for wetland protections: Visit DU's Clean Water Action Center and find sample letters to the editor to send to your local newspaper and sample e-mails to send to your members of Congress. Tell them you support protecting the wetlands that matter to you as a duck hunter and conservationist.
Big boost to coastal wetland restoration
Coastal wetlands, like those on the shores of the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest, are getting a strong jump on the new year, as the Department of Interior announced more than $19 million in grants for coastal restoration projects across the nation... More than 20 projects will receive the grants, which will protect more than 6,100 acres of wetlands vital to migrating waterfowl.
"There are few actions we can take that are more important to the health of our environment, our wildlife and ultimately our coastal communities and their economies than conserving and restoring these vital wetlands," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
The grants are through the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, which is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Including the 2010 grants, the USFWS has awarded nearly $240 million to coastal states and territories since the program began in 1992. When the 2010 projects are complete, more than 260,000 acres of habitat will have been protected, restored or enhanced.
A complete list of projects funded by the 2010 grant program can be found online at www.fws.gov.
Focusing on public policy for continental conservation
The North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) has been the model that waterfowl and other species conservation efforts have been following for more than 20 years. But, like any good plan, it is constantly evolving, and changes will be made in the coming years to incorporate advancements in both science and public policy to better conserve waterfowl habitat...
Since NAWMP was created in 1986, there has been a change in the social and political landscapes in America. There are more stakeholders in the waterfowl habitat conservation discussion now, and there are more opportunities to enact landscape-scale conservation for waterfowl through public policy.
The revision will seek to implement a unified system of waterfowl conservation that features more input from stakeholders such as waterfowlers, farmers and others, as well as federal, state and local government officials and organizations such as Ducks Unlimited.
More details will be ironed out at the annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Committee Conference, held in Milwaukee, Wis., later this year.
To learn more about NAWMP and its benefits for waterfowlers, see "The World's Best Model for Wildlife" by DU's Chief Biologist Dale Humburg.