WASHINGTON – May 27, 2014 – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the eight Critical Conservation Areas (CCA) established in the 2014 Farm Bill
, which overlap with many of Ducks Unlimited’s (DU) priority regions.
Among the CCA designations that are particularly important to waterfowl habitat are the California Bay Delta
, Chesapeake Bay Watershed
, Great Lakes Region
, Mississippi River Basin
and the Prairie Grasslands
. More than 50 percent of North America’s migratory waterfowl depend on the wetlands and grasslands in the Prairie Pothole Region, or the “duck factory.”
“The Critical Conservation Area designation allows USDA to focus its assistance in many areas that overlap with the essential priorities that Ducks Unlimited has already strategically identified as habitats in which we can have the most impact with our conservation work,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “These regions also reflect where DU has standing partnerships with agriculture farm and ranch stewards, who help implement habitat conservation projects on private lands.”
The 2014 Farm Bill created a new Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which merges several existing programs and provides funding incentives for state, federal, private and nongovernmental organizations to form conservation partnerships to improve the health of iconic watersheds. It also authorizes the USDA Secretary to designate eight Critical Conservation Areas to receive targeted program funding.
“As a rice farmer, the designations of the Mississippi River Basin and California Bay Delta are particularly exciting to rice agriculture. Opportunities to maximize conservation on working rice lands will also maximize wintering waterfowl habitat in these regions,” said DU President George Dunklin.
Rice-growing regions of the United States overlap directly with the most important waterfowl wintering grounds. A recent study
authored by Ducks Unlimited scientists for The Rice Foundation
found that it would cost in excess of $3.5 billion to create natural wetlands for wintering habitat in these regions in the absence of rice agriculture.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/DucksUnlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/DucksUnlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/DucksUnlimitedInc.