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Top stories for Aug. 24, 2010
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NFWF grant to provide Louisiana landowners assistance with coastal wetlands restoration

Recently, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation granted Ducks Unlimited $991,000 to assist landowners in Louisiana's Cameron and Vermilion parishes with coastal wetlands restoration efforts.

Mottled duck in Louisiana marshThrough DU's Louisiana Waterfowl Project, private landowners will benefit from wetlands restoration expertise and a cost-share program for water-control structures and levee repair. Each project requires a 15-year agreement to manage water levels for waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds and other wetland-dependent species.

This work will contribute to the long-term sustainability of the coastal ecosystem, helping restore degraded marsh by protecting it from extended periods of high salinity or high water levels, benefiting all marsh-associated species. In addition, the project will protect other wetland functions by providing a storm surge buffer from tropical storms, filtering nutrients from runoff and supporting and protecting nationally significant infrastructure.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation invited DU to submit shovel-ready projects that could be completed in 12-15 weeks," said Bob Dew, DU manager of conservation programs for Louisiana. "The work that DU proposed will help restore more than 17,000 acres of coastal marsh in one of DU's highest priority areas."



Farm Bill conservation programs get support in USDA NRCS publication

USDA NRCS publication
Click here to read "Helping People Help the Land," a publication from the
USDA NRCS.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service recently released a publication, "Helping People Help the Land," which outlines Farm Bill programs that benefit fish and wildlife, including the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, the Grassland Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program. The Farm Bill allocates billions of dollars to these landowner-driven conservation programs, which sustain critical habitat and support fish and wildlife populations.

The new publication introduces landowners to the technical and financial assistance the Farm Bill's conservation programs can provide to help producers implement conservation practices that reduce erosion, protect natural waters, improve fish and wildlife habitat, improve air quality and conserve energy.

The USDA's show of support for these Farm Bill programs comes on the heels of a meeting of DU's Conservation Programs Committee in Spokane, Wash. One item on the meeting agenda was to finalize DU's list of Farm Bill 2012 objectives and priorities that will enable DU and its conservation partners to achieve habitat objectives essential for waterfowl and other migratory birds.

 


DU biologist serves as voice of habitat restoration, conservation at New York AGO session

DU North Atlantic Regional Biologist Craig Ferris recently attended a listening session in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., for the America's Great Outdoors initiative, which promotes and supports innovative community-level efforts to conserve natural spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; Judith Enck, director of Region 2 for the Environmental Protection Agency; David Hayes, deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior; Rep. Maurice Henchy (NY); Rep. John Hall (NY) and Rep. Paul Tonko (NY) were among the top government officials in attendance.

Secretary Vilsack led an introductory panel featuring members of a variety of New York farming and conservation interests. The focus of the entire session centered on farmland preservation; land preservation along the Hudson River; the assistance farmers will need to remain in business; the differences between small, local specialized farming of the Hudson Valley in contrast to the large agribusinesses of the Midwest and tax incentives for farmland easements.

Craig Ferris
Craig Ferris, DU North Atlantic regional biologist

After the introductory session, Ferris attended a breakout session titled, "Farms, Forest and Coastal Area." Ferris used the opportunity to testify to the effectiveness of a variety of federal funding programs for DU's habitat restoration mission, as many of the interests represented in the session are seeking funds to keep farms in business and protect farmland from being developed.

Ferris suggested that when structuring any new funding programs, these interests look to existing successful programs, such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. "DU has greatly benefited from NAWCA over the years, in large part because its funding has been relatively stable over a long period of time, and the ground rules have been consistent, which allows applicants time to plan their programs and develop partnerships," Ferris said. "Also, the program is flexible in terms of how the funds can be spent, allowing local groups to help shape the conservation program to their local needs."

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