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Policy News: Vol. 3, Issue 12

Top stories for Mar. 29, 2011
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Congress returns from recess to address FY2011 budget issues



DU members must continue to remind legislators about the importance of NAWCA and the devastating effects that would occur to conservation if its funding was cut. (Member photo courtesy Ryan Askren)
This week, both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate will return from recess to address a series of legislative items, including the remaining fiscal year 2011 budget. For the past several months, Congress has been passing a series of short-term spending measures to keep the federal government operating. The latest continuing resolution is set to expire April 8, 2011.  

While Congress may opt to pass another short-term measure, many senators and representatives are calling for legislation that would finalize the federal budget for the remaining fiscal year in order to begin drafting the fiscal year 2012 budget, which begins October 1, 2011. 

Regardless of whether Congress decides to pass a stop-gap spending bill or finalize funding for the remaining year, it is essential that current North American Wetlands Conservation Act funding levels are preserved. As Congress further deliberates on budget issues, we must remind our legislators about the importance and effectiveness of NAWCA and the devastating effects that would occur to conservation if its funding was cut. Therefore, Ducks Unlimited continues to urge all of its members to visit the Take Action section of the DU website, www.ducks.org, for updates on this program and how you can help. 


DU Western Region staff discuss impact of water shortages with U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner 



DU Western Region Office staffers meet with U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor. From left, WRO Director of Public Policy Chris Unkel, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor, WRO Director Mark Biddlecomb and Mid-Pacific Regional Director for U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Don Glaser.
Last week, staffers from the Ducks Unlimited Western Regional Office traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor. During the meeting, DU staff highlighted the importance of California's Grasslands Ecological Area to waterfowl conservation efforts. 

The GEA, located in the San Joaquin Valley, is the single largest block of continuous wetlands remaining in the state of California. These wetlands are important habitat for wintering waterfowl, especially for species that nest in Canada's Western Boreal Forest. More than 90 percent of green-winged teal, wigeon and scaup that winter in the grasslands are produced in the boreal forest. 

WRO staff also discussed the pivotal role the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation plays in preserving these wetlands. As water supplies become increasingly dominated by agriculture, conservation of these wetlands relies on the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, which is managed by the bureau, to maintain proper water levels. 

WRO Director Mark Biddlecomb believes the meeting with Commissioner Connor will help raise awareness about ongoing conservation efforts in the GEA. "Ducks Unlimited has partnered with many landowners in restoring the Grasslands Ecological Area, and we work closely with the Grasslands Water District to ensure wetlands receive their fair share of water," Biddlecomb said. "Our partners in the Grasslands depend on the Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner to deliver much of that desperately needed water, particularly spring and early summer water needed to grow duck food. The meeting with Commissioner Connor was a great opportunity to let him know just how important water is in this area and to solidify our good working relationships with the Bureau as well." 


Nebraska Senator addresses Ducks Unlimited state convention



DU Nebraska State Chair Vince Urban (left) with U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson at the DU State Convention in Grand Island, Neb.
U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson (NE) attended the DU state convention March 19 in Grand Island, Neb. Sen. Nelson, who has been a DU member for several years and currently serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, took the opportunity to meet fellow DU members and address the crowd. During his speech, Sen. Nelson discussed the importance of conserving and restoring Nebraska's wetlands and other waterfowl habitats. Sen. Nelson also expressed how important sportsmen's groups like Ducks Unlimited are to conservation efforts. 

"Sen. Nelson is a lifelong hunter who has been an asset to conservation in Nebraska and the nation," DU Manager of Conservation Programs Steve Donovan said. "He is a crucial advocate for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conservation activities, for wetland protection programs in the Farm Bill, and for the North Americans Wetlands Conservation Act. We are honored to have the senator speak at our state convention." 
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