Ducks Unlimited Reacts to President Bush’s Earth Day Commitment to Wetlands
MEMPHIS, April 22–Officials from Ducks Unlimited are calling President George W. Bush’s proposed new wetlands initiatives “good news” for North America’s waterfowl, other wildlife, and people. The president outlined new strategies and policies for conserving wetlands in a speech during Earth Day celebrations today in Wells, Maine.
Bush’s new wetlands initiative includes an ambitious shift in policy from “no net loss” to a policy of “overall increase” of wetlands in America each year. To help achieve this goal, the president committed to restore, improve, and protect 3 million acres of wetlands over the next 5 years. He also plans to improve tracking and data gathering on wetlands and conservation programs, and to enhance collaborative efforts with landowners to conserve wetlands.
The president’s remarks also included the announcement of a streamlined process that will make it much easier for landowners to protect wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region of the U.S. The prairie potholes represent some of the most critically important habitats in the world for breeding waterfowl and other wildlife. Beyond its vital natural habitat, this region is also a key conservation delivery location for programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program.
“Today, President Bush outlined some very positive steps for our wetlands, which have suffered from continuing loss and degradation for centuries,” said Don Young, Executive Vice President of Ducks Unlimited. “Wetlands were the central theme of the president’s remarks. Clearly, he understands the critical benefits wetlands provide as habitat for hundreds of wildlife species as well as their environmental benefits for people. We’re very pleased with his plans to commit more federal funding toward wetlands conservation and improved wetlands monitoring.”
“At the same time, we have continuing concerns about the current state of wetland habitat across the continent,” Young stated. “Wetland habitats of value to wildlife continue to be lost at the substantial rate of tens of thousands of acres every year. Given those concerns, it is vitally important that conservation initiatives such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Wetlands Reserve Program receive substantial funding. It is also important to remember that we need reasonable and sound regulations in addition to financial support and other incentives to protect and restore the nation’s wetlands.”
Ducks Unlimited has been working with the administration and congress for some time on various conservation issues. In several key meetings, DU officials have had the opportunity to meet face to face with the president and his staff to discuss conservation policy.
“We saw many of our priorities addressed in President Bush’s remarks today,” said John Tomke, President of Ducks Unlimited. “We look forward to continuing our work with the administration and congress toward achieving these goals and providing wetlands and other habitats for wildlife, sportsmen, and society as a whole for generations to come. It’s also great to see specific measurable goals and annual monitoring to ensure wetlands conservation objectives are met.”
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s premiere wetlands and waterfowl conservation organization. Since its founding in 1937, DU has conserved more than 11 million acres of wetlands and other critical wildlife habitats across the continent.
Contact: Eric Keszler