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World Leader in Wetlands Conservation

Policy News: Vol. 3, Issue 21

Top stories for June 1, 2011
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Passage of NAWCA reauthorization bill critical to program's future 



Due to the recent budget constraints in Congress, the passage of H.R. 1960 will be crucial in securing future funding for NAWCA. (Photo courtesy Rich Summers)
Every five years, Congress must reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act program. Congressional "authorization" lays out the intent and processes of a federal program and provides the authority to annually appropriate funds. NAWCA is due to be reauthorized soon and in order to begin the reauthorization process, Rep. Rob Wittman (VA), along with Rep. John Dingell (MI), recently introduced H.R. 1960. Both Rep. Wittman and Rep. Dingell are members of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, a congressional commission that focuses on the acquisition of migratory bird habitats for the National Wildlife Refuge System. This bill will continue NAWCA's current maximum funding ceiling at $75 million per year for the next five years. The program was created and first authorized in 1990. 

For more than 20 years, NAWCA has served as a bipartisan, cost-effective way to conserve vital wetlands throughout the continent. 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. However, despite this program's outstanding record of accomplishments, NAWCA's future has recently been threatened by Congress. It received substantially reduced funding for the 2011 fiscal year. 

"The passage of reauthorization legislation is essential for the future of the NAWCA program," Scott Sutherland, director DU's Governmental Affairs Office, said. 

"We hail this first step in continuing this very successful and effective program and we thank Congressmen Wittman and Dingell for their leadership." DU will work with members of Congress to build support and add co-sponsors in the effort to pass this legislation so that NAWCA can continue to sustain and restore waterfowl habitats across the nation.

DU is working to have H.R. 1960 pass both chambers and be signed into law during the 2011 calendar year. This reauthorization effort will run concurrent to building congressional support for the NAWCA program during the annual appropriations process.

To learn more about NAWCA and how you can help, visit www.ducks.org/nawca.


Shell Oil contributes half-million dollars to Gulf Coast restoration



Shell Oil Company's second $250,000 contribution will support all three aspects of DU's habitat conservation approach – science, policy and direct habitat delivery programs. (Photo courtesy Kim Taylor)
Ducks Unlimited receives second $250,000 contribution

For decades, Ducks Unlimited has been working to prevent long-term wetlands loss in the Gulf Coast region. Every 38 minutes, more than a football field of wetlands is lost in the state of Louisiana alone. This long-term wetlands loss, coupled with last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, has made protecting and restoring these vital waterfowl habitats a top priority. Therefore, Ducks Unlimited is pleased to announce that Shell Oil Company recently donated $250,000 to DU's ongoing efforts to protect and restore rapidly disappearing coastal wetland habitats in Louisiana.

"The Gulf Coast has long been a top priority for Ducks Unlimited," Bob Dew, DU manager of conservation programs in Louisiana, said. "Louisiana's coastal habitat is essential to sustaining North American waterfowl populations, and the area remains an important part of North America's waterfowling heritage." 

The Louisiana coast is the most important region for wintering waterfowl in North America. It provides continentally significant winter habitat for more than 10 million waterfowl and multitudes of other migratory birds and wetland-dependent wildlife.

"Much of Louisiana's coastal habitat has degraded over time, and the science tells us the loss of habitat is limiting the number of waterfowl the coast can support today," Dew said. "The only way to meet the needs of waterfowl tomorrow is through habitat restoration."

Shell Oil Company's second $250,000 contribution will support all three aspects of DU's habitat conservation approach – science, policy and direct habitat delivery programs. 

"Ducks Unlimited is recognized as the leader in wetlands conservation due to its ability to forge diverse partnerships and deliver significant wetlands conservation," Claude Griffin, Shell Oil Company's social investment program manager for the environment, said. "We are proud to continue to support all three avenues of DU's road to the ultimate goal of a sustainable coastal ecosystem." 


Conservation Easement Incentive Act introduced in House with strong support



Recently, Rep. Jim Gerlach (PA) and Rep. Mike Thompson (CA) introduced legislation, H.R. 1964 Conservation Easement Incentive Act, which plays a pivotal role in DU's ability to secure vital waterfowl habitat across the country. (Photo courtesy Chris Knight)
Recently, Rep. Jim Gerlach (PA) and Rep. Mike Thompson (CA) introduced legislation, H.R. 1964 Conservation Easement Incentive Act, which plays a pivotal role in DU's ability to secure vital waterfowl habitat across the country. This bill would make permanent the enhanced tax deduction for conservation easement donations that is scheduled to expire at the end of this year.

Ducks Unlimited, along with its partners, has successfully garnered strong bipartisan support on this legislation by securing 251 original co-sponsors in the House, including Chairman Dave Camp, Ranking Member Sander Levin, and a majority of each side on the Ways and Means Committee. Also joining Rep. Camp are nine other committee chairs.

"Ducks Unlimited is pleased that H.R. 1964 has been introduced with such strong support," Barton James, director of public policy in DU's Government Affairs Office, said. "It is critical that we build on this strong start." 

Click here to see if your Representative has co-sponsored and call your representative's office (Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121) and say thanks or ask for the staff member who handles tax issues, and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 1964, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act.
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