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Policy News 2.35

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Top stories for Aug. 31, 2010
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EPA denies petition for lead ban in ammunition

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency rejected a petition submitted earlier this month aiming to ban the use of lead in lead bullets, shot and fishing sinkers, due to the impact lead has on wildlife.

EPA logoThe EPA's original plan was to poll the public for its reaction to the petition—submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy and three other groups—over a period of two months. But Friday, the EPA denied the petition, saying it falls outside its jurisdiction under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.

Under this act, the EPA may regulate "chemical substances" under certain circumstances, but Congress explicitly excluded lead shot and bullets from regulation.

"EPA is taking action on many fronts to address major sources of lead in our society, such as eliminating childhood exposures to lead," the agency said in a written statement. "However, EPA was not and is not considering taking action on whether the lead content in hunting ammunition poses an undue threat to wildlife." The EPA is still considering what to do about fishing sinkers.

Both The Wildlife Society and the American Fisheries Society have recognized the toxicity of lead that leads to wildlife deaths and sub-lethal poisoning. Non-toxic shot has been required in all waterfowl hunting under federal and state rules since 1991.




Congressman Thompson, DU celebrate historic restoration project in California

Congressman Mike Thompson of California's 1st Congressional District joined more than 100 California conservation and political officials last week to celebrate a milestone in U.S. habitat restoration.

Congressman Thompson at the Napa Sonoma celebration
Congressman Thompson at the Napa Sonoma Marshes Restoration Project celebration in California

Ducks Unlimited hosted a media event and site tour of the Napa Sonoma Marshes Restoration Project near American Canyon. DU and its partners assisted the California Department of Fish and Game in restoring the area, which is being transformed from a large expanse of salt evaporation ponds into 1,400 acres of natural tidal wetlands that support populations of migratory waterfowl, endangered fish species, shorebirds and other wildlife. These acres join 5,000 acres previously restored by DU on the Napa Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area.

But the project's benefits extend to people as well, supporting more than 100 jobs and infusing more than $13 million into the local economy. The project will provide recreational opportunities for the San Francisco Bay Area's 7 million residents and will be open for public use in the future.

"Anytime you can have government, the public and private agencies working together in a partnership such as this one, you can do great things," said Rep. Thompson. "We can make a difference - we can make important improvements for conservation - which is evidenced by this project."

"The amazing restoration work that has been done here at the Napa Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area near American Canyon would not have been possible were it not for the collaborative efforts between DU and our partners," said Mark Biddlecomb, director of DU's Western Regional Office in Sacramento. "This project represents restoration work at its best and symbolizes DU's conservation mission coming to fruition."




DU staff member attends Nashville AGO session, CEO encourages DU supporters to speak up for Prairie Pothole Region

Tony Dolle
Tony Dolle, director of communications at DU's National Headquarters in Memphis, Tenn.

Tony Dolle, director of communications at DU's National Headquarters in Memphis, Tenn., recently attended a listening session in Nashville, Tenn., for the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, which promotes and supports innovative, community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and reconnect Americans to the outdoors.

U.S. Department of the Interior Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Will Shafroth; U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman; Nashville mayor Karl Dean; and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN) were among the top government officials in attendance at the session, which drew a crowd of more than 300 people.

Sen. Alexander said the AGO Initiative "is not about policy or politics. It is about the air we breathe, the fish we catch, the trails we hike, the mountains we admire and the way we live. This listening session is a great way to gather ideas to preserve and create outdoor opportunities for the next generation of Tennesseans."

After introductory remarks, Dolle attended a breakout session centered on the various methods conservation groups such as Ducks Unlimited can use to protect Tennessee's vital natural resources. Dolle said he used the opportunity to highlight DU's conservation work in Tennessee, the Mississippi Alluvial Valley and the Prairie Pothole Region. He also highlighted DU's strategy of partnering with government agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Resources Conservation Service to the attention of session attendees.

"The AGO session served as a valuable platform to highlight how DU's numerous project partnerships with the FWS, NRCS and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation often enable us to turn our conservation goals into realities," Dolle said. "Because of this team work, we have conserved more than 38,000 acres in Tennessee to date. Speaking up in support of this type of collaboration was vitally important at the session."

In another showing of support from DU, CEO Dale Hall encouraged DU staff and conservationists across the country to contact AGO officials with the below note concerning the critical habitat region known as the Prairie Pothole Region.

"If the administration hears a loud and unified voice from DU supporters, it could result in additional funding that will help us save the best-of-the-best breeding habitat for waterfowl," said Hall.

As a Ducks Unlimited member, outdoors enthusiast and supporter of waterfowl habitat conservation, I strongly recommend designation of the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana as a "Treasured Landscape" in the administration's America's Great Outdoors Initiative.

Within the Prairie Pothole Region lies the Missouri Coteau, America's last great landscape of richly diverse wetlands and native grasslands. This ecologically and culturally unique landscape provides breeding habitat for millions of waterfowl and other migratory birds, and it is also home to a strong outdoors-focused culture and a proud ranching tradition.

The Prairie Pothole Region supports outdoor recreational activities for millions of Americans, providing opportunities for both adults and youth to connect to our natural heritage. Migratory birds produced in the region support or enhance the outdoor experiences of waterfowl hunters, bird watchers, boaters and many other outdoor enthusiasts in nearly every state. Waterfowl hunters alone generate $2.3 billion in local economic value annually and support more than 21,000 jobs throughout the country-revenue and jobs that are vital to local economies. We also support a strong North American Wetlands Conservation Act program and full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Ducks Unlimited, in partnership with the federal and state agencies, numerous NGOs and private landowners, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have worked to curb habitat losses in the Prairie Pothole Region to ensure the future of migratory birds and related natural resource conservation opportunities. Despite these efforts, the native grasslands and wetlands of this cultural and ecological treasure continue to disappear faster than they can be conserved. For these reasons, I urge the administration to recognize the Prairie Pothole Region as a Treasured Landscape.




DU, partners complete North Carolina wetlands project

Ducks Unlimited and partners recently completed wetlands restoration work in east-central North Carolina, funded in part by a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant. Partners including Ducks Unlimited, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund and Neuse River Investments LLC provided $2,221,807 in funding to complement the $999,000 NAWCA grant.

DU conservation project in North Carolina's Neuse-Pamlico region
The Neuse-Pamlico project site in east-central North Carolina

"This project focuses on enhancing emergent estuarine habitat, a decreasing wetland type," said Craig LeSchack, Ducks Unlimited director of conservation programs. "These wetlands provide feeding habitat for many wetland-dependent species including migrating and wintering waterfowl in the Atlantic Flyway, neotropical migrants and other migratory and non-migratory waterbirds."

This grant is an important part of ongoing conservation efforts in coastal North Carolina and improved habitat on both public and private lands in the Neuse-Pamlico region, including more than 1,000 acres within the Goose Creek Game Lands.

"This area provides some of the most important managed habitat under state ownership for northern pintails and American black ducks," LeSchack said. "In addition, the area is at the southern end of the breeding range for black ducks, which nest on the Goose Creek Game Lands."

Like all Ducks Unlimited projects, the partners involved in the Neuse-Pamlico project made it possible.

"This is a unique project because it provides a solution to protecting the habitat values and management capabilities of several of a limited number of emergent estuarine marsh impoundments along the North Carolina coast," said Tommy Hughes, supervising wildlife biologist-coastal region public lands with NCWRC.

The proposal area also ties into current wetland conservation efforts funded by a previous NAWCA grant, providing landscape-scale wetland conservation.

"This proposal will aid in linking these areas by enhancing a valuable and distinct emergent estuarine habitat system," Hughes said.

In Washington, D.C., DU's governmental affairs staff works with Congress to garner support for annual funding of NAWCA. To date, NAWCA has helped fund more than 2,015 wetland projects on 25.7 million acres in all 50 states, every province of Canada, and areas in Mexico. In North Carolina, projects supported by NAWCA have conserved more than 68,000 acres.

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