Top stories for April 20, 2010
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White House introduces Great Outdoors Initiative for 21st century
A conference held last week at the White House probably would have left former President Teddy Roosevelt smiling.
Roosevelt, famously known for making land conservation and responsible use of natural resources a national priority, used his administrative influence to conserve approximately 230 million acres of American lands within various parks and other federal projects.
In that same spirit, last week, the president signed a presidential memorandum establishing the America's Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
The conference featured speakers such as Chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Participants included leading national conservation interests, such as hunters, anglers, ranchers, farmers, state and local government officials, tribal leaders, public lands experts, conservationists, youth leaders and business representatives from across the country. Several of DU's leaders, including President John Pope, participated. DU was there to discuss the future of waterfowl's needs including the notion of having the Prairie Pothole Region as one of the America's Great Outdoors focus areas.
The president pointed out the importance of appreciating and protecting the nation's natural resources while establishing an up-to-date strategy to meet new obstacles for responsible conservation.
"When we see America's land, we understand what an incredible bounty that we have been given. And, it's our obligation to make sure that the next generation enjoys that same bounty," the president said. "But we also know that we must adapt our strategies to meet the new challenges of our time. Over the last century, our population grew from about 90 million to 300 million people, and as it did, we lost more and more of our natural landscape to development. Meanwhile, a host of other factors-from a changing climate to new sources of pollution-have put a growing strain on our wildlife and our waters and our lands."
President Obama observed it will take a collaborative effort among the federal government, private conservation organizations, farmers and ranchers and others to ensure the durability of the country's natural resources.
NAWCA makes its mark in Delaware
Delaware is about to become a more popular place for waterfowl.
Ducks Unlimited was recently awarded a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to restore approximately 343 acres in the largest block of contiguous forest on the Delmarva Peninsula, known as Delaware's Great Cypress Swamp.
"This NAWCA grant provides funds that will expand an ongoing and successful conservation program in the Great Cypress Swamp," said Kurt Anderson, DU biologist for Delaware. "DU and its partners recognize the uniqueness of this ecosystem and its inherent value to wildlife. Our ideas have garnered tremendous interest, and we are excited about building upon our efforts in the future."
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 over $1 billion, with over $3 billion in partner funds. Federal dollars that go to NAWCA often are doubled or tripled by state and local partners. More than 25 million acres of vital wildlife habitat have been conserved thanks to this program.
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!
Virginia wildlife refuge to receive enhancement thanks to NAWCA
Ducks Unlimited soon will give the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (CNWR) a major facelift. DU was awarded a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to restore and enhance approximately 1,161 acres in the CNWR on the Delmarva Peninsula. DU and its partners will replace water-control structures that will allow the CNWR staff to optimize seasonal habitat conditions and eradicate invasive species.
"Improving the ability to manage water levels in these wetlands greatly enhances the value of this habitat to wildlife," said Ben Lewis, a regional biologist at DU's Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office. "CNWR is a key wintering area for waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds in the Mid-Atlantic region."
DU honors Minnesota state senator for involvement, service
DU Minnesota State Chair Lee Ness (left) and Minnesota Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau (far right) present Minnesota state Sen. Pat Pariseau with framed letters of congratulations from DU President John Pope and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
You know you've done well when the president of DU sends you a personal note of appreciation. That's just what Minnesota state Sen. Pat Pariseau received at a ceremony held by DU, honoring her for her leadership in founding the DU Capitol Chapter and her 19 years of service as the volunteer area chairwoman of the chapter.
With many of her state legislative colleagues also in attendance, Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau and DU Minnesota State Chair Lee Ness presented Sen. Pariseau with framed letters from Gov. Tim Pawlenty and DU President John Pope.
Pope congratulated her for the good will and recognition the committee has brought among state legislators and DU's partners.
"As an avid outdoors person with deep roots in farming and with a deep-seated conservation ethic, you set out to found the Capitol Chapter and what a job you have done," said Pope. "Yours is an extraordinary record of stewardship of the outdoors, not only to your home state and its citizens, but also to our conservation mission."
Pariseau says her involvement in DU came from her interest in maintaining the rights and options for citizens, especially youth, to enjoy outdoor sports, including hunting legitimate game.
"Ducks Unlimited seemed an obvious choice due to its efforts to conserve habitat and sustain waterfowl population for future generations," said Pariseau. "If you are interested in helping to further this great cause, the easiest way to get involved is to attend your local DU chapter events."
Today, the Capitol Chapter boasts 161 members and seven Bronze Sponsors and has raised over $143,000 for the ducks.
Members of Congress join with DU to learn more about national refuges
Last week, several staff members from DU's Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., attended a Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) briefing called "Building Support for the National Wildlife Refuge System." DU was a sponsor of the event, which focused on the importance of adequately funding the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS).
Also attending the breakfast were members of the congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus, Mr. Rowan Gould, acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, members of the CSF Board and members of the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) coalition.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of CARE, a national coalition of 22 hunting, wildlife, conservation and scientific organizations that work to educate Congress and the public about America's National Wildlife Refuge System. Ducks Unlimited is a founding member of this effort. CARE strives to raise awareness of the funding needs that accompany the preservation of the nation's refuge systems, which total more than 150 million acres.
Rep. Mike Thompson of California, speaking in support of the NWRS, pointed out the economic benefits the outdoors industry has on the nation's economy. Barton James, director of public policy at DU's Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., said the breakfast was a unique opportunity for DU to exhibit its ongoing support for the NWRS as well as its commitment to conservation. "There is no question about the important role refuges play in the conservation of the waterfowl resource. Briefings such as this are extremely valuable to conservation and outdoors organizations because they present a united front in our efforts to maintain the country's federal wildlife refuges."