Top stories for March 9, 2010
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Congress teams with Ducks Unlimited to support wetlands conservation
Congressmen John Dingell (Mich.) and Henry Brown (S.C.) and Senators Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and John Thune (S.D.) are joining with Ducks Unlimited to bolster support for a long-standing DU priority: the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).
Since 1990, NAWCA has utilized $1 billion in federal grants to leverage over $3 billion from partners and states, for a $4 billion investment in waterfowl conservation. The program has put more than 25 million acres of wetlands and other waterfowl habitat on the ground across North America.
Now, Dingell, Brown, Lincoln and Thune are urging their colleagues to support annual appropriations for NAWCA, and DU members and supporters can help!
Contact your members of Congress today and ask them to support funding for NAWCA in the appropriations being discussed in Washington. Even in a difficult time for budgets, NAWCA is a program that leverages an average of at least $2 for every dollar in federal grants, and it deserves to be funded at the highest possible level.
Contacting your members of Congress is easy—just click the button below:
New York Times highlights need for better wetlands protections
A recent New York Times investigation revealed the lack of federal protections for wetlands and waterways. The Times focused on increased pollution rates due to weakened Clean Water Act protections.
"We are, in essence, shutting down our clean water programs in some states," said Douglas F. Mundrick, an Environmental Protection Agency employee in Atlanta.
The lack of protections threatens waterfowl habitat, especially prairie potholes and playa lakes, which are specifically listed as being exempt from Clean Water Act protections. Millions of birds nest and breed in the Prairie Pothole Region and use the seasonal playa lakes as stopover habitat.
Ducks Unlimited is working with members of Congress, including Senators Max Baucus (Mont.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) to identify solutions that protect these areas without infringing on farmers' and ranchers' ability to work their lands.
Visit the Ducks Unlimited Clean Water Action Center to learn more about areas that are threatened with pollution and degradation, as well as to find out how to contact your members of Congress and see sample letters to the editor.
Presidential administration announces plan to save Gulf Coast
Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley announced a new plan to guide the restoration of the Gulf Coast, one of the major waterfowl wintering areas and an important region for the country's energy needs and commercial shipping.
"We are pleased that the administration sees the need for swift, large-scale action to save the Gulf Coast," said Barton James, director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited. "DU has been working to restore the Gulf Coast for millions of wintering waterfowl for many years, and it is good to see a commitment from the federal government to restoring this vital national resource."
The effort highlights the importance of waterfowl and wildlife habitat to the overall restoration of the region.
"With 10 national wildlife refuges totaling more than 300,000 acres in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, the Department of the Interior recognizes the vital role the Gulf Coast wetlands play in supporting fish and wildlife resources, as well as the nation's commerce and domestic energy," said Tom Strickland, assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks.
Tax provisions lead to conservation milestone in South Atlantic Flyway
A combination of conservation easements, donations and volunteer involvement have led to big results for conservation in the South Atlantic Flyway, as Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 250,000 acres of habitat in the region. The flyway, which encompasses all or parts of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, is crucial wintering habitat for millions of ducks and geese.
"Our state, federal and private partnerships contributed tremendously to our successes in the region, and we look forward to continuing these valued partnerships well into the future," said Craig LeSchack, Ducks Unlimited director of conservation programs for the South Atlantic Flyway.
More than 128,000 of the acres are lands enrolled in conservation easements, where private landowners voluntarily commit their land to conservation. Conservation easements are a critical tool for conservation, as many of the remaining wetlands in the United States are on private lands.
A provision that encourages landowners to enroll their land in conservation easements expired at the end of 2009. Members of Congress are working with DU to restore this provision, and DU supports the measure to encourage more conservation across the country and to help restore the next quarter-million acres in the South Atlantic.