Top stories for April 13, 2010
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National forum explores ways to achieve clean water
More than 100 executives and local activists, brought together by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will gather this Thursday to discuss one of the nation's most pressing issues: clean water.
EPA administrator Lisa Jackson will host the forum, "Coming Together for Clean Water," which will focus on:
- Presenting thinking on critical clean water challenges and needed directions
- Obtaining perspectives on critical unmet clean water needs and challenges
- Obtaining perspectives on proposed strategies and identifying how the EPA can maximize clean water protections under current authorities
Healthy watersheds and sustainable communities are the two outstanding initiatives for the EPA's clean water campaign. Ducks Unlimited officials will be in attendance at the conference.
Scott Sutherland, director of DU's Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., said this conference is something more people should know about.
"The fact that the administration is making clean water one of their leading initiatives is important," said Sutherland. "Not only does clean water play a major role in wetlands conservation, but it personally affects millions of Americans. Hopefully this forum will be a significant step toward better ways to achieve cleaner water in the United States."
The EPA recently published maps identifying where threatened surface water sources are located throughout the country, areas that were once protected under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act but have lost their protections and could be polluted, drained or filled, which would threaten fish, wildlife and drinking water supplies.
NAWCA letter being finished in Senate
"Full steam ahead" is the sentiment surrounding the funding of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).
A letter being circulated by Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) asking Congress to continue funding NAWCA made its way to the Senate Appropriations Committee last week. To date, 39 senators have signed on to the letter, proving there is strong bipartisan support for NAWCA in Congress.
NAWCA conserves North America's waterfowl, fish and wildlife resources while producing a variety of environmental and economic benefits. Since its creation in 1989, conservationists—from private landowners to large corporations—have leveraged the federal share of NAWCA, which is more than $1 billion, with more than $3 billion in partner funds. Federal dollars that go to NAWCA are tripled by state and local partners. More than 25 million acres of vital wildlife habitat have been conserved thanks to this program.
This week is the last chance to garner more signatures for NAWCA. Ducks Unlimited supporters need to let their senators know NOW that we need them to support NAWCA. It's good for waterfowl and waterfowl hunters!
White House to host land conservation conference this Friday
Sportsmen, conservationists and other outdoors enthusiasts are making their way to the nation's capital to discuss new conservation initiatives being considered in Washington.
The White House will host the America's Great Outdoors conference to discuss land conservation and ways to reconnect Americans with the outdoors. The conference will feature speakers such as Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality; Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Participants will include an invited group of hunters and anglers, ranchers, farmers, state and local government officials, tribal leaders, public lands experts, youth leaders and business representatives from across the country. Several of DU's leaders will participate.
According to Sutley, more than 2 million acres of land are lost to development each year, and children are spending less time outdoors than ever before. She said the conference will give people heavily involved with local conservation initiatives an opportunity to voice their ideas to the government.
"Modern-day land conservation has to continue to be driven from each community," said Sutley.
Dr. Alan Wentz, DU's senior group manager for conservation and marketing, agreed. "It is encouraging to see the federal government host a conference to discuss this," said Wentz. "DU staff and volunteers are working on these issues constantly. If we are going to make the headway required to sustain waterfowl when faced with shrinking amounts of habitat, we need active partnership from the federal government. Having federal officials hold high-level discussions with leading outdoor enthusiasts is a step in the right direction."
NAWCA scores another habitat victory with Indiana project
Put another mark in the "win" column for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).
NAWCA recently awarded a grant to restore approximately 200 acres in southwest Indiana, known as "Field B," at the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area (FWA). Project partners include the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), National Wild Turkey Federation and Duke Energy. The NAWCA grant will allow partners to restore and enhance this degraded wetland to benefit breeding and migrating waterfowl, other wetland-dependent wildlife and the public.
"This 'Field B' NAWCA grant is a terrific opportunity for Ducks Unlimited and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to partner to provide 200 acres of restored habitat for wildlife and the people of Indiana," said Michael Sertle, DU's regional biologist for Indiana. "NAWCA grants are a crucial funding source for conservation partnerships, allowing Ducks Unlimited to leverage state funds and other partner matches with federal dollars to cooperatively restore and enhance hundreds of acres of critical shallow wetland and grassland habitat to benefit waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife."
First North American international refuge expands thanks to NAWCA grant
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWS), the first of its kind in North America, just got a little bigger thanks to Ducks Unlimited and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).
A ceremony in Monroe, Mich., that included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), DRIWS and U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-Mich.), was held to officially announce the acquisition of 35 acres of property for the DRIWS.
The addition comes after DU was awarded a $1 million NAWCA grant in 2008 to protect, restore and enhance 4,700 acres of wetlands along Michigan's Saginaw Bay, Lake St. Clair and western Lake Erie. A key matching component of the grant was the donation of the Plum Creek Marsh wetland property by Monroe County to the refuge. In late 2009, DU, The Trust for Public Land and the USFWS collaborated to acquire the 35 acres, known as the Burke property, with DU providing $180,000 of NAWCA funds for the purchase. This property contains a mix of coastal wetlands, restorable wetlands and native grassland habitats that will provide excellent breeding and migration habitat for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife, as well as recreational opportunities for the public.
Dave Shefferly, a Monroe resident and state chairman for Michigan Ducks Unlimited, said, "Ducks Unlimited was honored to be a partner in moving forward with the international wildlife refuge."