Top stories for Feb. 9, 2010
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Federal advisory panel to get hunter input on policy issues
A new advisory council made up of hunting groups, outdoor industry representatives and related federal agencies will help guide public policies to ensure America's hunting traditions are preserved.
The White House Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, a reiteration of the Sportsmen's Conservation Council, was announced last week by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Ducks Unlimited will be nominating members to serve on the council by the end of the month.
"Keeping the traditions of waterfowling alive into the next generations of sportsmen is a top priority for Ducks Unlimited," said Barton James, director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited. "We are pleased that this administration is working with sportsmen to help guide the wise investment of hunter dollars to ensure that future generations can participate in these traditions, and we look forward to having an active role."
DU urges reinvestment in conservation
Fully funding the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program would leverage millions for conservation and produce jobs, according to Ducks Unlimited.
DU is urging the state legislature to include $50 million in the 2010 bonding bill for the Board of Water and Soil Resources Conservation Service's Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), which will leverage federal funds for conservation.
"The RIM/WRP partnership is good for waterfowl, clean water and the state's economy," says Ryan Heiniger, DU director of conservation programs for Minnesota. "The more dollars the state legislature invests in RIM, the more federal WRP dollars will be invested in the state."
Heiniger says dollars invested through RIM/WRP would provide Minnesotans habitat restoration and protection projects that would provide improved water quality in downstream lakes and rivers and increased flood water storage potential, as well as important habitat for ducks, pheasants and other wildlife.
Great Lakes restoration takes hit in president's budget
As noted in last week's Conservation Issues Briefing, many conservation programs are being given less funding in the president's 2011 budget request. President Obama's latest budget reduced its support of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 36 percent, dropping it to $300 million.
Ducks Unlimited joined with a broad coalition of organizations concerned with the protection of the Great Lakes to call for the annual funding to be maintained at its original level.
The initiative was funded at $475 million last year. It supports solutions to restore wetlands and other habitats that protect water quality, prevent flooding and serve as the foundation of the region's outdoor economy.
"The need for increased Great Lakes restoration funding remains high," said Gildo Tori, director of public policy for DU's Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office. "Our goal is for Congress to fully fund solutions that restore the Great Lakes, which are the foundation of our economy and way of life."
DU volunteer addresses state legislature
DU At-Large Board Member Bill Short testified at the South Carolina Legislative Ways and Means Subcommittee hearing in support of the South Carolina Conservation Bank. The bank's budget was severely cut during recent budget issues and Short testified as to the bank's importance to land protection efforts and overall conservation in South Carolina. The bank provides funds for land and easement acquisitions. DU is assisting efforts to get increased funding and a 10-year extension for the bank, which will help promote conservation in the state.
California seeking input from pintail hunters
Throughout February, California's Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will be conducting a public opinion survey on pintail harvest regulations. The DFG is requesting all waterfowl hunters fill out a very simple online poll as DFG biologists consider several options for future pintail bag limits and season lengths. The questions prompt hunters to provide opinions on the trade-offs between daily bag limits, length of the pintail season and stability of hunting regulations The poll consists of a few multiple choice questions and will only take minutes to fill out online.
The pintail survey opinion poll is scheduled to close at the end of February, giving DFG biologists time to review results in advance of regulation meetings with waterfowl biologists from other states and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in March. DFG intends to post the results of the survey on its Waterfowl Program Web page.