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Policy News 2.23


Top stories for June 8, 2010
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DU signs letter calling for increased oil spill recovery funding

Watch DU CEO Dale Hall's video update from the Gulf Coast concerning DU's role in the recovery efforts.

Ducks Unlimited has authored a letter and worked with the other members of America's Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) to obtain signatures from 23 national sportsmen's conservation groups on a letter addressed to House Appropriations Committee leaders supporting an amendment to add $85 million in supplemental funding for oil spill recovery efforts.

The additional funding request was started by Reps. John Dingell, Lois Capps, Mike Thompson and Charlie Melancon. The funding would serve as an addition to the president's Deepwater Horizon oil spill legislative package and would be put toward assisting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in their response and recovery efforts to address economic and environmental damages resulting from the spill. While BP is ultimately responsible for the cost, cleanup efforts must begin now in order to curb the negative impacts of the spill—this is where the supplemental funding comes into play. Reps. Dingell, Capps, Thompson and Melancon are requesting the funding by circulating a Dear Colleague letter in the House of Representatives, encouraging their fellow congressmen to support the amendment.

Oil in a Louisiana coastal wetland

DU CEO Dale Hall said DU supports the call for increased funding and has signed the Dear Colleague letter. "Oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico has started coming on shore, and is currently moving into wetlands that support waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife," said Hall. "These wetlands are also vital to the livelihoods of many citizens in the region. Impacts could be extreme, and DU is committed to working with local and federal partners to mitigate any impacts to the wetlands and waterfowl of the Gulf coastal regions. We encourage everyone to contact their members of Congress and ask them to sign on to the Dingell/Capps/Thompson/Melancon Dear Colleague letter."

DU to hold Gulf Coast oil spill briefing for Capitol Hill staff, members of Congress

On Friday morning, June 11, Ducks Unlimited will provide an opportunity for congressional staff and members of Congress to learn more about the Gulf oil spill and its potential impacts on waterfowl.

DU's lead scientist for the Gulf Coast, Dr. Tom Moorman, and south Louisiana fishing and hunting guide, Captain Ryan Lambert, will brief Capitol Hill staff on, "The Future of a Sportsman's Paradise – Post Gulf Coast Oil Spill."

"This briefing will give interested Capitol Hill staff and members of Congress an in-depth look into the wildlife, habitat and economic impacts of the oil spill to sportsmen and women," said Barton James, director of public policy at DU's Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C. "The situation on the Gulf Coast is tragic, and, right now, DU is committed to doing all it can to keep people as informed as possible."

Great Lakes policy efforts result in more than half a million dollars in conservation grants

For the past six years, DU's Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office (GLARO) has been heavily engaged in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, a cooperative effort to guide Great Lakes strategy. Now, the hard work is paying off in a big way for wetlands conservation, as DU recently received approximately $680,000 in grants for future projects in the Great Lakes region.

DU's Shiawassee Flats Floodplain wetland restoration project in Michigan

DU and many other partners, including all eight Great Lakes states; 15 federal agencies; multiple tribes, cities and non-governmental organizations have been working to develop an overarching Great Lakes Restoration Plan, as well as a funding mechanism to protect and restore the Great Lakes. With the advent of a new administration and a new Congress came the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) a $475 million effort directed at providing on-the-ground funding that addresses five key issues: habitat/species, toxics, invasive species, coastal health and accountability/monitoring.

Ducks Unlimited, one of the principal groups delivering on-the-ground restoration, submitted more than 30 grant applications to protect, restore, enhance and manage wetlands and associated habitats in the Great Lakes watershed. Recently, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius and USFWS Northeast Regional Director Marvin Moriarty jointly announced the approval of $1.8 million in grants aimed at protecting and/or restoring 1,566 acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania under the GLRI. Seven grants were awarded; DU received the following three:

  • Michigan – DU was granted $99,750 for the Shiawassee Flats Floodplain wetland restoration project. The project will restore 141 acres of sustainable, high-quality emergent wetland habitat that will contribute to the health of the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay.
  • Ohio – DU was granted $150,013 for the Magee Marsh project. The project will reduce habitat fragmentation and improve water quality in a highly altered watershed through the restoration of 110 acres of forested and emergent wetlands, and the enhancement of 282 acres of emergent wetlands.
  • New York – DU was granted $432,865 for the Indian River Lakes wetland protection project. The project will protect 591 acres and provide connectivity to existing protected lands, as well as protect 1.75 miles of Oswegatchie River frontage, floodplain grass and scrub.

Dr. Robert Hoffman, director of GLARO, said the grants are a sign of the opportunities DU might have in the future. "DU's successful policy program has long been recognized for supporting federal funding programs such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Farm Bill and now, the Great Lakes Restoration Plan," said Hoffman. "As DU increases its focus on public policy, more funding opportunities will become available, as evidenced by these recent awards from the GLRI."

North Carolina attorney general allocates grant funding for DU restoration project

Ducks Unlimited recently received a $375,000 grant from the North Carolina attorney general's office through the Environmental Enhancement Grant Program (EEGP). The grant will go toward an acquisition along the Cape Fear River for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

The EEGP is a result of an agreement reached in 2000 between the North Carolina attorney general's office and Smithfield Foods Inc., the world's largest pork producer. Under this agreement, Smithfield and its subsidiary, Murphy Brown LLC, agreed to provide $50 million over 25 years to the attorney general's office to improve the environment. Projects are selected on the basis of benefits to rivers and sounds in areas of North Carolina that have high concentrations of hog farms.

The Environmental Enhancement Grant Program has allowed DU to complete projects in North Carolina, including restoration at the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge (pictured above).

This is the third grant for DU's current work along the Cape Fear River Basin. Past projects supported by the grant program have restored wetland habitat on and adjacent to agricultural lands and bottomland hardwood forests, improved water quality, increased flood retention and provided recreational opportunities for the public, as well as improving habitat for many species of wildlife, especially migratory birds.

"The need for clean water is a common denominator, and the attorney general recognizes that. Whether you're a farmer, a hunter, a fisherman, a restaurant owner or a school teacher, everybody depends on clean water," said Craig LeSchack, director of conservation programs at DU's Southern Regional Office. "This program acknowledges the important role wetlands play in providing clean water and the expertise Ducks Unlimited has in wetlands conservation and restoration."

Since 2004, DU has received six EEGP grants totaling more than $1.8 million in support for the Ducks Unlimited Sound CARE Initiative (PDF). Program grants have helped DU conserve important waterfowl habitat throughout North Carolina, including the following areas:

  • Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge (NWR)
  • North River Game Land
  • Lantern Acres Game Land
  • Pocosin Lakes NWR
  • Roanoke River Wetlands Game Land
  • Roanoke River NWR

DU receives more than $10 million from California conservation agencies

Thanks to the support of two California conservation grants agencies and numerous partners, Ducks Unlimited can mark May 27, 2010, as one of the largest single-day fundraising successes in its 73-year history, with a total of $10.2 million in funds awarded for conservation efforts in California.

At a recent meeting of the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB)—a group that administers a capital outlay program for wildlife conservation and related public recreation in the state—the WCB awarded DU approximately $9.2 million in grant funding for five restoration and conservation projects across the state. The grants break down as follows:

  • $6.65 million to restore more than 1,500 acres of tidal marsh on the Cullinan Ranch Unit of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge
  • $1.55 million to enhance 1,680 acres of managed pond and restore tidal marsh habitat on the Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area
  • $250,000 to install water pumps that will enhance 2,414 acres of wetlands on the Los Banos Wildlife Area
  • $317,000 to restore riparian habitat and replace water pumps to improve habitat in Merced County
  • $30,000 for work to enhance 177 acres of seasonal wetlands in the Sutter Bypass
  • $408,000 for the Moss Landing Wildlife Area, to provide better public access for hunting, fishing, observation and other wildlife-oriented recreation

Also, at a meeting of the State Coastal Conservancy (SCC)—a state agency that uses entrepreneurial techniques to purchase, protect, restore and enhance coastal resources—the SCC awarded DU a $1 million grant to construct a pedestrian bridge linking the Bay Trail to Bair Island, near San Francisco.

Sam Schuchat, executive director of the SCC, expressed the agency's expectations for the bridge project. "When the new bridge is in place, we expect Bair Island to become one of the best spots for people to observe the incredible variety of birds that can be found in San Francisco Bay," he said.

Notably, Cullinan Ranch is also a recent recipient of more than $1.65 million through a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus grant, which is intended to restore habitat, create jobs and stimulate the economy.


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