Top stories for Feb. 2, 2010
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Conservation takes hits in 2011 budget
The fiscal year 2011 budget proposal became public yesterday, and it contained several reductions for waterfowl habitat. The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA), the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and the Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP) are all being recommended for lower funding levels than they were in the President's 2010 budget proposal.
"Obviously this is a difficult time for the nation's economy, but it is unfortunate that the President's budget calls for cuts to proven conservation programs that create jobs as well as provide recreational opportunities and clean water," said Scott Sutherland, director of Ducks Unlimited's Governmental Affairs Office. "The waterfowling community adds more than $2 billion to the national economy each year, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and these cuts could limit that benefit in the future."
The proposed budget now goes to Congress and will likely be changed dramatically when it returns to the President's desk to be signed into law. Ducks Unlimited staff in Washington, D.C., and in regional offices across the country will work with legislators to ensure that proven conservation programs like NAWCA receive the funding they deserve.
Waterfowl supporters can also make their voices heard for conservation and encourage their lawmakers to support funding conservation programs like NAWCA, NMBCA, WRP and GRP.
In the coming weeks there will be information in the Conservation Issues Briefing on how DU supporters can easily contact their members of Congress to promote strong funding for wetlands and waterfowl habitat.
New report highlights threats to Tennessee's clean water
A new report by Ducks Unlimited and its partners shows that many Tennessee waters are at risk from pollution and destruction because they may no longer be protected by the Clean Water Act.
The report highlighted several critical waterways and wetlands that have lost Clean Water Act protections in the wake of the SWANCC and Rapanos Supreme Court cases. Ducks Unlimited has been working with Congress and several presidential administrations to ensure that wetlands critical to waterfowl that have lost protections have them restored.
"The waters featured in this report are valuable to Tennessee's wildlife and people," said John McFadden, executive director of the Tennessee Environmental Council and co-author of the report. "These waters impact drinking water sources, wildlife habitats, and provide important recreational opportunities for people. The examples featured in the report are the tip of the iceberg, and portend further and more dramatic losses if the current legal confusion is not addressed."
The examples of at-risk waters varied, but included some areas that affect public lands.
"West Tennessee wetlands provide exceptionally important habitat for wintering waterfowl and breeding wood ducks," said Dr. Scott Yaich, director of conservation operations at Ducks Unlimited's national headquarters in Memphis. "Examples now found to be at greater risk of degradation include the Hatchie River Bottoms and Reelfoot Lake, both of which include national wildlife refuges."
DU, other conservation leaders look ahead to conservation in 2010
Senior staff from Ducks Unlimited, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Coastal Conservation Association and the National Wildlife Federation met this past weekend to discuss policy issues for the year ahead and what they will mean for conservation.
"This is a good time to sit down and really identify challenges and opportunities for conservation using public policy for not just the next year but down the road – what will be the next Conservation Reserve Program or North American Wetlands Conservation Act that can be a landscape-changer for conservation, and what will we do to make it a reality?" said Scott Sutherland, director of DU's Governmental Affairs Office.
One of the agenda items discussed was the threat that the vanishing Louisiana coast poses to sportsmen across the country. Attendees discussed how to nationalize the loss of the Gulf Coast and incorporate more champions for coastal restoration from outside of the Gulf Coast.
"The Gulf Coast, especially in Louisiana, is a sportsmen's paradise," said Barton James, director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited. "The wetlands of the gulf coast serve millions of wintering waterfowl, and provide fantastic fishing opportunities. All of these are threatened by vanishing wetlands."