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Policy News 2.17

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Top stories for April 27, 2010
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DU to hold Capitol Hill fly-in

It may have been delayed, but the show will go on for the previously scheduled Washington, D.C., fly-in. The fly-in was canceled due to heavy snowstorms in February, but has been rescheduled for May 12. The meeting will be an opportunity for DU volunteers to discuss public policy with members of Congress and their staffs. Congressional support is critical to DU's habitat conservation efforts and programs.

Scott Sutherland, director of DU's Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., stressed the value these opportunities have for DU.

"When members of Congress know that constituents from their home states are traveling to Washington to show their support for waterfowl needs, they often become interested in finding more ways to support DU's important conservation mission," said Sutherland.

If you are interested in learning more about the fly-in, please contact Whitney Tawney at DU's Governmental Affairs Office – wtawney@ducks.org.




USFWS delivers wind energy guidelines to Secretary of Interior, aims to protect wildlife

A call to regulate wind energy development is blowing through the nation's capital and could have a major impact on waterfowl.

Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) sent Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar a set of guidelines on how land-based wind farms can have the least severe impact on wildlife and habitat.

The recommendations came after members of the Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee deliberated for more than two years trying to reach a consensus. Secretary Salazar plans to review the committee's recommendations before advising the USFWS on how to handle wind energy development on private and public lands.

The recommendations include:

  • A decision-making framework that guides all stages of wind energy development
  • Reliance on the best available science when assessing renewable energy projects and their potential environmental impact
  • Use of landscape-scale planning that recognizes the need to think long term about protecting our nation's economic and natural resources (source: USFWS)

The responsible use of wind energy plays a vital role for DU, particularly in the Prairie Pothole Region, one of DU's top-priority areas. Millions of ducks and geese pass through the region each spring and many nest there.

"DU is actively engaged with industry and agency partners in research to understand potential impacts of wind development on important breeding areas in the Prairie Pothole Region," said Dr. Scott Stephens, director of conservation planning and programs for Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming. "We want to ensure wind developments are benign to breeding waterfowl and that the regulations governing wind development don't discourage landowners from participating in conservation of these key breeding areas."




High-priority habitat gets boost from NAWCA

As they head north on their annual spring migration, millions of waterfowl and other birds funnel through the area surrounding Nebraska's Platte River, looking for a place to rest and refuel before the important job of producing the next generation of birds.

A new $725,000 grant from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) will mean DU and its partners can provide more habitat for this annual gathering.

"Platte River habitat has suffered from extensive man-made changes, like flood-control dams and irrigation diversions. The river is also choked by invasive plant species that have degraded the system," said Steve Donovan, DU's manager of conservation programs for Nebraska. "It is imperative today that we protect key intact habitat along the river and begin to restore places where the habitat has been lost. The longer we wait, the more we'll lose."

 

With the NAWCA grant funds, DU and its partners will protect, restore and enhance 4,141 acres of wetlands and grasslands along the Platte River in western Nebraska. Work during phase II of the Platte River Confluence effort will expand the river's capacity to provide the proper food and shelter for soon-to-be-nesting birds.

More than 225 migratory bird species have been documented in the project area, including the federally listed whooping crane, least tern and piping plover. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the project area provides habitat for more than 2 million ducks and 500,000 geese during annual migrations.

"The Platte River is a high priority in nearly all conservation plans developed by DU and its partners," said Donovan. "Wetlands along the Platte are important because they are needed by millions of migratory birds each year."

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