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Congressional Effort Underway to Extend Key Wetlands Program

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WASHINGTON, June 8, 2006 – House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (Calif.) introduced a bill yesterday to reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). Since 1989, NAWCA has successfully fostered hundreds of public-private partnerships to conserve more than 20 million acres of wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl, other migratory birds and wildlife.

“This is good news,” said Ducks Unlimited Executive Vice President Don Young. “NAWCA provides critical funding for the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Every duck hunter and person interested in the outdoors and water issues should support continuing this incredibly successful wetlands program. All of us benefit from wetlands.”

The ranking member of the Resources Committee, Representative Nick Rahall (W.Va.) and Representatives John D. Dingell (Mich.), Thelma Drake (Va.), Wayne Gilchrest (Md.), Mark Kennedy (Minn.) and Curt Weldon (Pa.) joined Chairman Pombo as original co-sponsors of the legislation.

NAWCA plays an essential role in DU’s partnerships with private landowners, state and local agencies, industry and other conservation organizations to protect, restore and enhance habitat for waterfowl across the continent. While much has been achieved, the United States continues to lose more than 80,000 acres of wetlands each year. NAWCA serves as a vital tool for efforts to address habitat challenges in vital areas for waterfowl, including the Prairie Pothole Region, the Central Valley of California, the lower Mississippi River Valley, Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes Region, to name a few.

Scientific studies overwhelmingly prove that wetlands act as filters, cleaning water and recharging groundwater supplies. Wetlands also trap and hold flood waters, lessening the damage from floods and hurricanes. In addition, wetlands provide a home for more than 900 wildlife species at some time during the year, making them the most prolific ecosystem other than rainforests.

NAWCA is a landmark investment in wetlands conservation. The proposed reauthorization bill asks for a five-year extension for NAWCA and authorizes up to $375 million in funding during that time.

“The strong bipartisan support for NAWCA is indicative of the program’s record of achievements and potential for the future,” said Scott Sutherland, director of DU’s governmental affairs office. “We are appreciative of the leadership by the Resource Committee’s senior members and their introduction of this important bill. We also thank the members of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission for their continued strong support.”

The popularity of NAWCA among legislators and conservationists comes from the program’s success. NAWCA has helped to create hundreds of partnerships at the local level to deliver on-the-ground conservation projects with multiple benefits for both wildlife and people. To date, more than 3,000 partners, both public and private, have implemented more than 1,500 projects. The law requires every federal dollar put into the program to be matched by at least $1 in nonfederal money. Since its inception, partner match has been $3 for every $1 in federal money. These partner contributions have totaled more than $2 billion during the past 16 years.

Contact: Gregg Patterson
901-758-3937
gpatterson@ducks.org  


With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. 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 each year.

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