Top stories for March 23, 2010
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New NAWCA projects announced, support still needed for future conservation
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved a slate of North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) projects recently that will conserve more than 135,000 acres of habitat through 20 projects. The projects leveraged over $74 million in partner contributions for $19.5 million in grants from the federal government—a better than 3:1 ratio of partner dollars to federal grants.
Ducks Unlimited is the grantee for nine of the projects, which are located in several states, including California, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Projects like these contribute to the millions of acres NAWCA has conserved and restored across the continent for more than 20 years.
Congress is currently discussing the budget for the 2011 fiscal year, including funding for NAWCA. Ducks Unlimited members and supporters can contact their members of Congress to urge them to support funding NAWCA at the highest practical level for next year, and ensure that projects like these continue to put habitat on the ground for the ducks.
Ducks Unlimited disappointed with Minnesota restoration veto
Funding for an important landowner friendly habitat conservation program was line-item vetoed this week by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the state's bonding bill, a move Ducks Unlimited says may jeopardize millions in matching federal funds.
"The veto of $25 million for the Reinvest in Minnesota [RIM] conservation easement program is a real lost opportunity for Minnesota," said Ryan Heiniger, DU director of conservation programs in Minnesota. "The loss of state bonding funds and potentially $35 million of federal conservation dollars will result in 18,000 to 20,000 acres of habitat not getting restored and protected for wildlife, clean water, flood storage and economic growth. We appreciate the legislature's work to prioritize the program, and we are optimistic that future bonding bills will once again provide this traditional source of funding for RIM."
USDA opens new office for environmental markets
In an effort to encourage more conservation and drive economic activity in rural areas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is releasing details on their new Office of Environmental Markets (OEM).
The OEM will work with federal agencies and other stakeholders to continue to build a market-based system that values land for aspects like wetlands, water quality and biodiversity. The new office is on par with the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the USDA hierarchy.
Ducks Unlimited already works with landowners to get the most use out of their land, whether helping enroll them in the Conservation Reserve Program or helping restore habitat for wetlands mitigation banks that offer offsets for wetland losses elsewhere.