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Policy News: Vol. 1, Issue 2

Top stories for June 9, 2009
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Farm, conservation groups support agriculture conservation

Farmers, ranchers and conservationists united to support funding for agriculture conservation programs, shortly before Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack defended cuts to programs such as the Wetlands Reserve Program and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program before Congress.

Ducks Unlimited and 50 other groups, including the USA Rice Federation, National Farmer's Union and National Cattlemen's Beef Association, signed on to a letter to the leaders of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee asking them to support the conservation levels passed in the 2008 Farm Bill. Demand for these programs consistently outpaces the available funding, and the groups fear that further eroding these programs will only damage conservation and stewardship in the future.

Secretary Vilsack appeared before committee to defend proposed cuts to various agriculture conservation programs from the President's 2010 budget request. In addition to land conservation programs like WRP and WHIP, there were also proposed cuts to the popular Open Fields initiative, which would provide incentives for landowners to allow public hunting and fishing access on their land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Ducks Unlimited supported the Open Fields provision in the 2008 Farm Bill, which was first announced at Ducks Unlimited's Great Plains Regional Office in Bismarck, N.D.


Support strengthens for Clean Water Restoration Act

Support for the Clean Water Restoration Act continues to build, and the New York Times published a second editorial in support of the bill. In a rare second endorsement (they first backed the bill in April), the NYT said the CWRA would streamline wetlands and stream protection, and that the "biggest beneficiary of a tighter, clearer law will be the environment—and the economy."

You can continue this momentum with the resources at the Ducks Unlimited Clean Water Action Center, where you can send a message to your Members of Congress, find sample letters to the editor and more on the Clean Water Restoration Act—the top priority for sportsmen!


Interior secretary names Upper Mississippi "Wetland of International Importance"

A top migration spot for canvasbacks and other waterfowl has been named a Wetland of International Importance by Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The wetland contains more than 300,000 acres of protected habitat in the Upper Mississippi watershed, including the entire Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge.

"The Upper Mississippi River floodplain is one of the most productive areas for waterfowl and wildlife, and the wetlands provide clean water and flood protection for millions of people farther downstream," said Dr. Bob Hoffman, director of the Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office for Ducks Unlimited. "The Upper Mississippi is absolutely critical for canvasback ducks, whose populations have been in decline over the past several years. The recognition of these wetlands will raise the awareness of what a national treasure they are."

Ducks Unlimited and other partners have been working with Congress and federal agencies to ensure that national wildlife refuges like the Upper Mississippi are properly maintained and protected for waterfowl and wildlife. The president's fiscal year 2010 budget request called for an increase to the National Wildlife Refuge System budget.


Great Lakes "czar," increased funding announced

A longtime advocate for restoring the Great Lakes, Cam Davis, CEO and president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, was appointed the special adviser to the Environmental Protection Agency, or "czar" for the Great Lakes watershed. The appointment comes on the heels of the announcement by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson of $475 million for Great Lakes restoration and protection in the fiscal year 2010 budget.

The Great Lakes system is one of the most important areas for waterfowl breeding and migration, supporting more than 3 million waterfowl annually. Ducks Unlimited applauds the appointment of Davis and looks forward to continuing to collaborate with him in his new role.

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