SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 30, 2005 – The California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved a partnership with Ducks Unlimited to manage a nearly $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to improve approximately 4,680 acres of tidal and seasonal wetlands in the San Pablo Bay region northeast of San Francisco. Funding from this grant will enhance or restore wetland habitats on five properties, including the California Department of Fish & Game’s Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area, that are open to the public.
“This is a great example of how partnerships can work together to improve natural resources,” said Ryan Broddrick, director of California Department of Fish and Game and WCB member.
To obtain the grant, WCB and DU partnered with several state, federal and private organizations, including California Department of Fish & Game, California Coastal Conservancy, Napa County Flood Control District, California Bay-Delta Authority, Dow Chemical Company, Marin Baylands Advocates, Marin Community Foundation, Sonoma Land Trust and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
DU biologists and engineers will work with the partners to survey, design and implement all of the wetland restoration and enhancement projects. The projects will include restoration or enhancement of brackish tidal marshes, and seasonal, semi-permanent, and permanent freshwater wetlands, all of which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified as nationally decreasing wetland types. The San Francisco Bay Estuary, which includes San Pablo Bay, is the nation's second largest estuary, yet has lost more than 90 percent of its natural wetland habitats during the previous 150 years.
Although there has been substantial habitat loss, the San Francisco Bay Estuary remains a critically important region to the waterfowl and shorebirds that visit and reside in the Pacific Flyway. It is listed as a Waterfowl Habitat Area of Major Concern and is recognized by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network because it regularly supports more than 1 million shorebirds.
“There is a strong emphasis by resource conservation groups to protect and enhance the remaining wetlands and to restore those that have been lost,” said Greg Green, Ducks Unlimited regional biologist. “The projects should be completed within two years, and will help meet the conservation objectives for the region, including those of the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture. The projects will also enhance recreational opportunities, including public waterfowl hunting at Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area.”
The projects funded through this grant will benefit numerous waterfowl during breeding, migrating and wintering seasons, including such priority species as northern pintail, lesser and greater scaup, canvasback and mallard. San Pablo Bay supports one of the largest concentrations of canvasbacks in North America. A peak of 140,000 scaup has been recorded in San Pablo Bay, which supports up to 70 percent of Pacific Flyway scaup. Peak winter waterfowl counts approach 280,000 birds, representing more than 30 waterfowl species. Shorebirds, such as American avocet, marbled godwit and long-billed curlew, and fish species such as Chinook salmon and Delta smelt will also benefit from the proposed habitat improvements.
In Washington, D.C., the Ducks Unlimited Governmental Affairs staff works with Congress in support of annual funding for NAWCA, so we can continue the Act’s waterfowl conservation success. The San Pablo Bay Tidal Wetland Restoration Project spans the congressional districts of Representatives Lynn Woolsey, George Miller and Mike Thompson, all of whom have been very supportive of increased funding for NAWCA.
“This project is a great example of how public-private NAWCA partnerships can benefit wetlands, wildlife and people,” said Representative Mike Thompson. “San Pablo Bay has a rich waterfowling heritage, and I am particularly excited about the benefits of this project to hunters and birders in my district. My thanks go to the Wildlife Conservation Board, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited and all the project partners.”
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) was enacted in 1989 and provides federal cost-share funding to support the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. NAWCA is a non-regulatory, incentive-based, voluntary wildlife conservation program.
NAWCA stimulates public-private partnerships to protect, restore and manage wetland habitats for a diversity of migratory birds and other wildlife. NAWCA partnership grants play an important role in meeting the DU mission, from restoring wetlands that have been altered, and enhancing water availability, to reducing soil erosion and the likelihood of floods. In addition, many projects provide outstanding recreational opportunities, from bird watching to hunting.
NAWCA provides challenge grants for wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Every $1 of federal money allotted to NAWCA must be matched by $1 or more from non-federal sources like Ducks Unlimited, or state fish and wildlife agencies. Because this program is so effective, funds are often tripled or quadrupled at the local level.
To date, NAWCA has helped fund more than 1,300 projects on more than 20 million acres in all 50 states, every province of Canada and areas of Mexico. More than 2,000 partners, including private landowners, industry and state governments have worked together to conserve wildlife habitat through NAWCA grants.
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 100,000 wetland acres each year.