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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Policy News: Vol. 3, Issue 11

Top stories for Mar. 22, 2011

Congress passes another short-term spending resolution, no cuts made to NAWCA funding

Severe cuts to NAWCA would result in reduced habitat, decreased waterfowl and other wildlife populations and lost hunting opportunities. (Member photo courtesy John Brewer)
Last week, Congress passed another spending resolution to keep the government and other federal programs operating for the next three weeks. Unlike previously proposed spending measures, this legislation omits language that would severely cut NAWCA funding. 

While these recent developments are a positive sign for NAWCA's future, funding for this program is still very much in peril. Ducks Unlimited members and supporters must continue to remind Congress about the importance of NAWCA and the devastating effects that would occur to conservation if its funding was cut. Severe cuts to NAWCA would ultimately lead to reduced habitat, decreased waterfowl and other wildlife populations and lost hunting opportunities. If NAWCA is eliminated completely, projects all over the country will be shuttered, thousands of jobs will be cut, and valuable wetland habitat will be lost. 

Now, more than ever, DU needs your help. We must protect this cost-effective, non-regulatory waterfowl program from becoming legislative collateral damage. Ducks Unlimited members and supporters have a voice. Please let your members of Congress know that we expect them to support NAWCA. Your action now will make a huge difference toward encouraging your elected officials to protect duck populations. 

Learn more about NAWCA and other key policy issues.

U.S. Interior Secretary Salazar visits Nebraska's Rainwater Basin to see conservation efforts in action

During their visit, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Designate Dan Ashe witnessed thousands of migrating ducks foraging in wetlands. (Member photo courtesy Ron Charest)
Last Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Designate Dan Ashe visited parts of Nebraska to learn more about the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, a crucial conservation effort to protect the Rainwater Basin's important migratory waterfowl habitat. The Rainwater Basin, located in the Central Flyway of North America, plays a pivotal role in the migration of millions of waterfowl and countless other birds. However, only about 10 percent of the original Rainwater Basin wetlands remain. In order to address the diminishing migratory waterfowl habitat, the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture was formed to restore high-quality wetlands and associated uplands. 

During their visit, Secretary Salazar and Ashe witnessed thousands of migrating ducks foraging in wetlands and met with several members of the RWBJV, including Ducks Unlimited, to discuss the importance of maintaining federal funding for conservation programs. 

Steve Donovan, DU's manager of conservation programs for Nebraska, believes the visit was beneficial for the region and the RWBJV. "It was great to see that the Secretary of the Interior really understands and appreciates the importance of the Rainwater Basin," Donovan said. "I am also happy he was able to witness how all the partners are working together with landowners to protect this important resource."

DU announces 2011 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards; recipients include Illinois Sen. Durbin 

Ducks Unlimited Director of Governmental Affairs Scott Sutherland presents Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin with DU’s Wetlands Conservation Achievement Award for the Senior Federal Official category. (Photo courtesy office of Sen. Durbin)
Last Friday, Ducks Unlimited announced the recipients of the 2011 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards at the 76th annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Kansas City, Mo. Recipients, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (IL), USDA Chief Dave White and Gov. Mitch Daniels (IN), were recognized for their outstanding contributions to wetlands and waterfowl conservation. 

Sen. Durbin was selected as the Senior Federal Official award winner for his instrumental role in improving water quality in the Illinois River basin. Sen. Durbin's support during the past seven years has provided $1.2 million to the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service to reduce sediment and nutrient run-off in 10 Illinois River basin counties affecting nearly 2,000 acres. Much of the momentum for conservation practices in these watersheds is directly attributable to Sen. Durbin's enthusiasm for water quality improvement. The senator also has long been the leading force behind Great Lakes restoration efforts in our nation's capital, as well as a champion for funding for conservation programs in the Farm Bill. Additionally, he led efforts to protect native prairie by supporting Sodsaver provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill.  

Receiving the Special Achievement Award in wetlands conservation was Dave White, chief of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. Chief White was the driving force behind the establishment of the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He directed NRCS to use its technical expertise and the financial assistance from existing Farm Bill programs to enhance wetlands, maximizing habitat and available food resources for the wintering waterfowl that could have potentially been impacted by the oil spill on the Gulf Coast. Chief White has also produced amazing results in the Wetlands Reserve Program this past year, hitting a single-year enrollment record of 272,000 acres. He was able to achieve this impressive goal by challenging his staff and public and private partners to prioritize enrolling farmers and ranchers in the WRP. 

Gov. Mitch Daniels (IN) was chosen as the winner in the State Elected Official category for making land preservation a top priority in the state of Indiana. A consortium led by Gov. Daniels, which included conservation organizations and local, state and federal agencies, purchased the 8,000-acre Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Management Area as part of an effort to restore it for use as a premier public birding and hunting area. Also on Gov. Daniels' watch, Indiana initiated a cleanup of the Grand Calumet River's west branch, committed to expanding the Conservation Reserve Program in the Wabash River watershed and protected more than 34,000 acres of sensitive habitat through the Indiana Heritage Trust program. His conservation efforts will help ensure that thousands of invaluable acres across the state will remain preserved for future generations.

"Each award winner has contributed significantly to the conservation of North America's waterfowl habitat," DU CEO Dale Hall said as he presented the awards. "DU is honored to recognize their work and hopes their personal achievements inspire others to follow suit."

Other award winners who were commended for their service and commitment to protecting and restoring wetlands include:
Category  Winner
Federal Agency Kevin Brennan
State/Provincial Agency Jim Sutherlin
Research/Technical Dr. Robert G. Clark
Conservation/Private Citizen Jeff, Greg and C.J. Durand
Communications David Hendee, Omaha World-Herald

Click here for photos and to read more about the awards program.

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