Strong support for wetlands, refuges from House subcommittee
WASHINGTON – June 10, 2009 – A proposed record increase to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) moved a step closer to becoming reality today when the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee approved the President's request of more than $52 million for the popular wetlands conservation initiative.
"We are very excited that Chairman Dicks, Ranking Member Simpson and the rest of the Subcommittee also recognize the importance of NAWCA and the benefits that restoring and conserving wetlands across the country have for sportsmen, farmers and the public," said Scott Sutherland, director of Ducks Unlimited's Governmental Affairs Office. "NAWCA is one of the most remarkable success stories for conservation, and this funding increase will continue that success."
Since the program began in 1989, more than 23 million acres of wetlands and waterfowl habitat have been conserved through NAWCA. The unique nature of the program is one of the reasons for its success: each dollar from the federal government must be matched by at least one other from state, local and private sources.
"But because the program is so popular, this match is usually 2-3 times the federal grant, meaning that an investment of $52 million could be more like $200 million for wetlands and waterfowl," said Sutherland. "It's one of the best deals in conservation."
More than 140 members of Congress signed on to a letter to Chairman Norm Dicks (Wash.) and Ranking Member Mike Simpson (Idaho) urging them to support the highest funding levels possible for the program.
The subcommittee also approved a record increase to funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System, which provides critical habitat for breeding, migrating and wintering waterfowl. The panel recommended $503 million for the program to address operations and maintenance.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization and has conserved more than 12 million acres. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature's most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres important to waterfowl each year.