Congress Poised to Restore Partial Funding to NAWCA
After weeks of uncertainty, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act is poised to receive $37.5 million in funding for the remainder of the current fiscal year. (Photo courtesy Robin Poole)
After facing elimination of funding in the House-passed version of the current year's legislation to pay for the federal government, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act is poised to receive $37.5 million in funding for the remainder of the current fiscal year. A vote is expected later this week. For more than 20 years, NAWCA has served as a bipartisan, cost-effective way to conserve vital wetlands across the nation. For every dollar invested in the program, an average of 3.2 additional dollars is raised to match the federal share by non-federal entities.
"Many Ducks Unlimited supporters are pitching in to convey to Congress NAWCA's positive impact on both conservation efforts and our nation's economy," DU CEO Dale Hall said. "I'm glad to see NAWCA received funding for the rest of this fiscal year and that DU's efforts were somewhat successful. We must continue to educate Congress in order to obtain funds for the fiscal year that starts October 1. Partners in bird conservation are playing a role in outreach efforts by expressing their support for this valuable program," Hall said. "Together we are demonstrating that if enough supporters of wildlife conservation speak up, Congress will listen.
"Ducks Unlimited members understand that tough budget decisions need to be made in order to reduce the deficit, but it is equally important that programs that truly pay for themselves, such as conservation programs, are properly funded. While I am disappointed that NAWCA received less funding than it did last year, I commend Congress for understanding the importance of this program and the economic benefits it provides."
Scott Sutherland, director of DU's Governmental Affairs Office, was pleased about the NAWCA funding, "especially after Congress initially threatened to eliminate all congressional funding." Sutherland acknowledged DU should be proud of the work done to help restore NAWCA funding, but he also warned, "We shouldn't celebrate this development for too long. The need to offset massive habitat loss far outstrips the ability of NAWCA to keep up. We have to remember that due to the match, for every dollar cut in this program, it means that the ducks lose nearly four dollars worth of habitat conservation."
In order to ensure NAWCA's funding is not eliminated in FY 2012, Ducks Unlimited is conducting a campaign to highlight the importance of NAWCA's conservation efforts and its economic benefits.
For more information on NAWCA and other Ducks Unlimited public policy efforts, visit www.ducks.org/conservation/public-policy.
NAWCA in Action: Helping Restore Waterfowl Habitats in Louisiana
Ducks Unlimited was recently awarded a $1 million NAWCA grant to restore coastal wetlands in Louisiana. (Photo courtesy Tom Reichner)
DU supporters are periodically asked to support congressional funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. NAWCA is the primary vehicle designed to fulfill the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Ducks Unlimited was recently awarded $1 million in matching funds from NAWCA to restore a series of coastal wetlands in Louisiana
. The project, known as the Vermillion Bay Coastal Wetland Restoration project, was proposed last July and has already been recommended and approved by the NAWCA Council and the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. Despite $2.78 million in non-federal funds being raised to pair with federal funds, the recent uncertainty of congressional support for the program is creating doubt that funding may not be available for some projects. The good news in this case is that thanks to funding designated for conserving coastal wetlands, the project will be funded.
"Wetlands are important in both environmental and infrastructure realms; therefore, funding for wetlands conservation can come from many different avenues. Whether it's the budget or NAWCA legislation itself, DU's public policy efforts and support from our members make a significant impact for wetlands conservation," Dr. Tom Moorman, director of conservation planning in DU's Southern Regional Office, said. "I'm pleased to hear of the recent funding developments, because these monies will help ensure many important conservation proposals will be able to move forward."
DU Advocates for Conservation Investment in Wisconsin Capitol
Staff from DU's Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office and volunteers discuss the importance of conserving and investing in the state's wetlands with Wisconsin state legislators. (From left to right: Gildo Tori, George Meyer, Representative Jeff Mursau, Nels Swenson, Don Kirby)
Ducks Unlimited staff and volunteers, along with the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, recently met with state legislators and their staffs to discuss the importance of conserving and investing in the state's wetlands.
The discussions centered on the continued importance of investing in waterfowl habitat conservation by raising Wisconsin's Waterfowl Stamp fee from the current $7 rate to $12. The Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp plays a pivotal role in protecting waterfowl habitats to ensure they may be enjoyed by sportsmen across the state. However, in recent years the buying power of the stamp has been diminished due to inflation and ever-increasing land prices.
"We have lots of new opportunities to secure and restore more land for waterfowl and hunters in Wisconsin, plus a great need to take care of wetlands restored by DU and others 20, 30 and 40 years ago," said Nels Swenson, State Chairman of Ducks Unlimited in Wisconsin. "The duck stamp price hasn't been increased in 14 years, and the fund is about zeroed out, so we thought the responsible action was to request an increase to ensure there are wetlands around for our kids and grandkids."
DU representatives met with eight state legislative offices, including senate and house leadership, as well as members of the Natural Resources Committee for both chambers and members of the Joint Finance Committees. DU, WWF and WWA were pleased by the favorable comments and support expressed by many state legislators and their staffs, given the austere economic times that many states are experiencing. DU believes highlighting the strong economic impact waterfowl hunters and watchers have on the state's economy is a major selling point to many legislators.
"Wisconsin is one of the top 10 DU states in the country and also ranks high for waterfowl hunting, which generates millions of dollars in economic activity in the state," said Gildo Tori, director of public policy for DU's Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office. "Increasing the duck stamp by less than half of what we pay for a box of shells will help provide funds to more wetlands and waterfowl for all of us to enjoy."