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Top stories for Jan. 19, 2010
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California Fish and Game funds at risk

The budget crisis in California make take its toll on waterfowl and wildlife habitat funding. According to the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, the 2010-'11 budget released by Gov. Schwarzenegger contains cuts to hunting and fishing programs.

The proposed budget, according to the governor's office, would restore funding to the Fish and Game Preservation Fund that had been borrowed in the 2009 budget, but also would cut $5 million from the California Department of Fish and Game for recreational fishing and hunting programs.

Waterfowl habitat in California is critical for millions of northern pintails and other species that use the highly productive Central Valley for wintering habitat. DU is committed to protecting critical wetlands in the Central Valley, as well as throughout the Pacific Flyway.




Corn ethanol's impact felt in Duck Factory

A new report by the University of Michigan higlights the impacts corn-based ethanol production in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) have on breeding waterfowl.

The study found that grassland-nesting birds, like many of the waterfowl that breed in the PPR, saw population declines that correlated with increased corn production for ethanol in the same area.

The report recommends increasing existing conservation initiatives, like the Conservation Reserve Program, would help prevent further population losses.

Ducks Unlimited strongly supports the Conservation Reserve Program, as well as waterfowl- and wildlife-friendly biofuels crops. These crops could provide a source of ethanol while also providing habitat for waterfowl and wildlife.




Benefits from NAWCA continue
Massive Indiana project nears completion

The North American Wetlands Conservation Council (NAWCC) approved a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant for a project on the Wabash River in Indiana. The project will add 4,000 acres of wetlands and waterfowl habitat to the newly created Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area near Terre Haute, Ind.

"This is a great example of the benefits of private and public entities working together to improve our communities and the environment," said Rep. Brad Ellsworth, who represents the area where the project will take place. "I commend Ducks Unlimited and its partners for their continued work in conserving and restoring habitat in the Wabash River corridor."

The NAWCC recommended a full $1 million grant, which will be matched by over $2.3 million from project partners.

"The Wabash River NAWCA is an amazing opportunity for Ducks Unlimited, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and our partners to provide more than 4,000 acres of new habitat for the wildlife and the people of Indiana," said Michael Sertle, Ducks Unlimited regional biologist for Indiana.

Ducks Unlimited members and volunteers have a tremendous impact on the success of NAWCA funding. Each year thousands of DU supporters contact their members of Congress to ask that they support funding for NAWCA. As appropriations season begins again in Congress later this year, DU supporters will have an opportunity to make their voices heard for conservation. Watch the Conservation Issues Briefing for more information on how you can make a difference for NAWCA in the coming weeks.




Congress returns
How will conservation fare in 2010?

Congress is now back in session, as the Senate joins the House in getting back to work for 2010. While conservation is not at the top of their agenda, early indications are that the House Agriculture Committee will start holding hearings to discuss the next Farm Bill.

The last Farm Bill passed in 2008, and won't expire until 2012, but there is already discussion about the future of conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program.

Ducks Unlimited is committed to these programs, including pushing for the USDA's goal of full acreage enrollment in the Wetlands Reserve Program.

The Senate likely will begin debate on a bill related to climate change and energy, but its prognosis for passage is unclear.

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