ARLINGTON, Va. – March 20, 2009 – Congressman James Oberstar was honored today by Ducks Unlimited with the 2009 Wetland Conservation Achievement Award at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference for his work to restore Clean Water Act protections to isolated wetlands.
“Chairman Oberstar has been a consistent leader for wetland issues and wetland protection,” said Scott Sutherland, director of the Governmental Affairs Office for Ducks Unlimited. “His unswerving dedication to advancing and restoring protections to wetlands and waterfowl habitat is more than enough reason to honor him with this award.”
Oberstar has been a leader in promoting legislation to restore Clean Water Act protections to wetlands through a bill called the Clean Water Restoration Act. In his taped remarks accepting the award, he thanked Ducks Unlimited for their work in restoring wetlands and called upon other conservation groups to stand up and help fight for wetland protection.
Oberstar praised Ducks Unlimited’s history and dedication in his remarks. “You were there to launch America on the restoration of those wetlands and heartlands of the United States, the wetlands of the Gulf, the restoration of clean water in our rivers and harbors and lakes,” said Oberstar.
Regulation changes regarding how wetlands were protected were changed in the wake of two Supreme Court cases – leaving millions of acres of wetlands and waterfowl breeding habitat unprotected from drainage and pollution. Habitats like prairie potholes – some of the most productive waterfowl breeding areas in North America – are now subject to fouling and draining under the new regulations, because they are not considered “waters of the United States.”
Only one federally elected representative is chosen to receive the award each year. Past winners include Sen. Herb Kohl (Wisc.), Sen. Mike Crapo (ID), and Rep. John Dingell (Mich.).
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres important to waterfowl each year.