Newly appointed chairman to lead House Natural Resources Committee on decisions integral to NAWCA, duck stamp program
U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings (WA) is the new chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, which plays an integral role in decisions affecting DU’s conservation mission. (photo courtesy washingtonpost.com)
U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings (WA) will serve as chair of the House Natural Resources Committee in the 112th Congress. This committee will have jurisdiction over many issues that concern DU, particularly increasing the price of the Federal Duck Stamp (which Hastings opposed in 2009) and the reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which expires next year.
DU is looking forward to working with Rep. Hastings on these issues, both of which impact DU's ability to protect and restore North America's waterfowl habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service produces the federal duck stamp, which sells for $15 and raises nearly $25 million each year to provide critical funds for conserving wetlands on national wildlife refuges, benefiting wildlife and people. Every U.S. state has at least one national wildlife refuge that has benefited from duck stamp sales. Of every dollar generated from duck stamp sales, 98 cents goes to purchase or lease wetland habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
More than 1,600 NAWCA projects have contributed to the conservation of more than 25 million acres of habitat across North America. Each project requires at least a 1:1 match for each dollar contributed by the federal government. However, the projects often attract 2-3 times that from conservationists, local government and others. Over $1 billion in federal grants has been allocated for NAWCA projects, a figure that has leveraged an additional $3 billion from matching and non-matching funds.
DU to work with 112th Congress to gain support for conservation-driven programs
As the 112th Congress begins its tenure on Capitol Hill, DU begins its work with congressional leaders to garner support for programs that greatly benefit DU’s conservation mission. (member photo from Jerry Segraves)
As the 112th Congress begins its tenure on Capitol Hill, DU will hit the ground running on its work with congressional leaders to garner support for programs that greatly benefit DU's conservation mission. One of the biggest issues facing this congress, according to Scott Sutherland, director of DU's Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., is the reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. "Authorization will make it much easier for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to receive appropriations for grants to state and local governments and nonprofit groups doing wetlands conservation work," Sutherland said. "The current authorization expires at the end of FY 2012, so DU will be working with various committees within this Congress, including the House Natural Resources Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee, to ensure that this vital program is reauthorized."
Sutherland also said DU will be looking for Congress to make some important moves on the tax front. For instance, DU celebrated the recent reinstatement of the enhanced easement incentive that allowed thousands of older Americans to make direct gifts to charitable nonprofits like DU from their Individual Retirement Accounts without suffering adverse tax consequences. However, the action did not make the incentives permanent; thus, the new Congress will have critical work ahead to make them permanent. The effect of these easement incentives is readily visible throughout DU's regions, particularly in its Southern Region, where DU holds 298 conservation easements, permanently protecting more than 296,000 acres.