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Policy News 2.31


Top stories for Aug. 3, 2010
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Interior Secretary unveils special-edition duck stamp cachet at DU national headquarters

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and DU CEO Dale Hall unveil the special-edition duck stamp cachet
Unveiling a Gulf Coast safety net Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and DU CEO Dale Hall uncover the design of the new duck stamp cachet to benefit Gulf Coast national wildlife refuges during a press event at DU headquarters.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar unveiled a special-edition Federal Duck Stamp cachet during a press conference held at Ducks Unlimited national headquarters in Memphis last week. Proceeds from the voluntary purchase of the cachet will be used to acquire wetlands for inclusion in national wildlife refuges along the Gulf Coast.

"Today, the wildlife of the Gulf Coast faces new threats—from the current oil spill to disappearing wetlands—that we must rise to confront," Secretary Salazar said. "This special-edition duck stamp cachet will provide hunters and other conservationists the opportunity to once again go beyond the call of duty by conserving disappearing wetlands for generations to come."

"This new collectible cachet will help raise badly needed funds for our tremendously important national wildlife refuges along the Gulf Coast," said DU CEO Dale Hall. "I urge all DU supporters to purchase one to help restore habitat in those refuges."

Among the nearly 100 people attending the press conference were Rowan Gould, acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Evan Hirsche, executive director of the National Wildlife Refuge Association; Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops and members of the DU board of directors. A representative of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN) was also in attendance.

"As conservation leaders, we know there is a real sense of urgency in our efforts to restore the treasured wetlands of the Gulf Coast," Hall said. "As each day passes, an average of 50 acres of coastal wetlands are lost in Louisiana alone - with those acres gone another piece of the Gulf Coast's heritage is lost and another piece of its future slips away. Working together, we must strive to restore these magnificent wetlands so future generations will be able to enjoy their rich bounty of fish and wildlife."

Cachet design The design of the new special-edition duck stamp cachet—
click on the image to view larger.

The cachet features a silk rendering of an award-winning photograph of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Florida by David Moynahan, as well as the 2010-2011 Federal Duck Stamp, which depicts an American wigeon painted by artist Robert Bealle of Waldorf, Md.

The cachet may now be purchased nationwide for $25—which includes the 2010-2011 Federal Duck Stamp—at post offices and Bass Prop Shops stores or by calling 1-800-852-4897. Bass Pro is underwriting the first edition of the cachet and will market it in its retail stores across the United States and Canada.

Morris thanked those who have dedicated their lives, talents and energies to ensure healthy fish and wildlife habitat for future generations. "We are blessed to live in America, where we have the finest conservation model in the world," he said.

LWCF bill passes House, Senate action anticipated

Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall spoke with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar during his recent visit to DU national headquarters, making the secretary aware of DU's support for the funding provisions specifically dedicated to the Land and Water Conservation Fund contained in H.R. 3534 and S. 3663.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the repository of that portion of offshore oil and gas revenues collected by the federal government that are to be used for land and water conservation. This account typically collects better than $1 billion each year, but has continually been funded far below its authorized level of $900 million.

LWCF monies are used to acquire public lands to be used for habitat conservation and for outdoor recreation. The program serves two levels of recreation—federal funding and state/local grants. It is used to protect key habitats and pay for local recreation areas and will foster more access to public lands for outdoor recreation.

Cinnamon teal on a wetland

The two bills pending in Congress attempt to remedy past diversion of these conservation funds for other purposes. DU supported the specific provisions of these two bills that address full funding and permanent appropriation status for the LWCF, but DU has not taken a position on either of the bills in their entirety. The House bill was passed on the House floor last Friday. It is anticipated the Senate will consider the legislation when it returns from recess in September.

"The LWCF provisions in the CLEAR Act will provide full and dedicated funding to fulfill some of the recreation needs of our country for the next 30 years," said Hall. "LWCF serves waterfowlers and the wetlands in which they hunt not only by funding acquisition of critical refuge lands in their states, but, almost more importantly, by protecting waterfowl breeding grounds through the purchase of voluntary conservation easements on private land."

DU has a Senate "Take Action" campaign underway in North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Mississippi to specifically support full funding of the LWCF program, which is one provision in the bill.

DU represented at America's Great Outdoors listening sessions in South Carolina, Nebraska

Continuing DU's strong commitment to being represented at as many America's Great Outdoors listening sessions as possible, Chris Vaughn, South Atlantic Flyway land protection coordinator for DU's Southern Region, attended a session held recently in Charleston, S.C. Jonas Davis, regional biologist for DU's Great Plains Region, attended another session in Grand Island, Neb.

Chris Vaughn
Chris Vaughn, South Atlantic Flyway land protection coordinator for DU's Southern Region

Approximately 200 people attended the South Carolina session, including representatives from a variety of non-governmental organizations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Defense and other stakeholders. After introductory remarks from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Joe Riley, mayor of Charleston, and Tom Strickland, assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the group broke out into smaller discussion sessions covering topics such as environmental education, the need for public/private partnerships to establish places where people can connect with the outdoors, and enhanced conservation easement tax benefits.

Vaughn said the discussion in which he participated focused heavily on one of DU's main priorities: encouraging people, and particularly children, to spend more time in the Great Outdoors. "I felt the discussion I participated in was very valuable and echoed many of DU's top priorities," said Vaughn. "From providing kids with outdoors education to taking them on trips into the outdoors to developing a governmental website to link potential users with various outdoors and conservation organizations and opportunities, many strategies were laid on the table. Also, DU's wetland conservation/restoration work was discussed in terms of its importance in providing quality habitat and outdoor opportunities, so our presence is most definitely being felt during these sessions."

Jonas Davis
Jonas Davis, regional biologist for DU's Great Plains Region

Approximately 200 people attended the Nebraska session, with officials from many state conservation agencies and staff from the Nebraska state congress in attendance. After opening remarks from Steve Chick, state conservationist from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Dave White of the chief natural resources conservation service for the USDA; John Berge, deputy assistant secretary for congressional relations for the USDA; and Eileen Sobeck, deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks for the U.S. Department of Interior, the group broke out into smaller breakout sessions addressing topics that centered on how to get Nebraskans more connected with the Great Outdoors.

Davis said his session focused on sharing ideas that could potentially result in positive changes in national programs and policies, ultimately reconnecting parents and youth to the outdoors. "The listening session was a great opportunity to convey to the federal government our conservation priorities in the Prairie Pothole Region, the Rainwater Basin and the Platte River system," Davis said. "The meeting also exhibited to high-ranking officials the opportunity and need in Nebraska to re-engage young people with outdoor activities. With 97 percent of the land base in Nebraska being privately owned, it is imperative we increase opportunities for children to experience nature."


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