Ducks Unlimited Receives $1 Million NAWCA Grant for San Joaquin Valley Wetlands
LOS BANOS, Calif., Nov. 29, 2005 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) and its partners were recently awarded a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to conserve 23,000 acres of habitat throughout the San Joaquin Valley in California. More than $2.3 million in matching funds will be paired with $1 million in NAWCA grant funds to underwrite wetlands protection, restoration and enhancement. This multi-partner effort will conserve a diverse array of habitats that benefit migrating, wintering, and breeding waterfowl and other wetland dependent wildlife on public and private land.
“California has lost more than 90 percent of its wetlands, most occurring in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Ducks Unlimited Regional Biologist Chris Hildebrandt. “It is getting harder to maintain the wetlands that remain and are needed to support up to 60 percent of the waterfowl using the Pacific Flyway.
“DU and its partners must continue to be active in the San Joaquin Valley, working to assist both private and public landowners in wetland conservation efforts in the face of increasing urban sprawl. That is what makes this million dollar grant so important and why DU members everywhere need to continue to support conservation programs such as NAWCA.”
The majority of the project will include restoring or improving seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands and associated riparian habitats. This project will enhance seasonal wetlands and upland food areas for wintering ducks and geese, and semi-permanent wetlands, and associated grasslands for locally nesting waterfowl such as mallard, gadwall and cinnamon teal. In addition, riparian habitat will be restored to benefit songbirds, such as black Phoebe and water birds like the snowy egret.
Ducks Unlimited partnered with local, state and federal agencies, and private landowners during the past two years to apply for the NAWCA grant. Hildebrandt said he expects the project to take two years to complete. The partners include the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), California Wildlife Conservation Board, Grassland Water District, the Flyway Ranch and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Ducks Unlimited Governmental Affairs staff in Washington, D.C., works with Congress in support of annual funding for NAWCA to continue the Act’s waterfowl conservation success. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, California's Senator Dianne Feinstein provides critical leadership in obtaining these federal funds. The project spans and will benefit the congressional districts of Representatives Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa, who both supported increased funding for NAWCA.
“I am a strong supporter of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which is a vital tool for protecting grasslands and healthy wetland habitats for many species,” said Cardoza. “These funds will greatly benefit our environment and help to preserve these natural treasures for current and future generations of Central Valley residents.”
In addition to the benefits wetlands provide people in recreational value, resupplying groundwater, reducing flood surges and clearing pollutants from water, this grant includes projects that will be managed by the DFG and offer a variety of year-round, public-use opportunities, such as fishing, hunting and bird-watching.
“Water conservation is becoming more important in wetlands conservation in California, as more people move to the state, more water is needed for urban use,” said Hildebrandt. “The beauty in doing something good for wildlife is it benefits people, too. The more efficiently we design and maintain wetland habitats, the better it is for human and wildlife needs. This is why programs such as NAWCA are so important. They forge lasting conservation partnerships and provide the necessary means to deliver modern-day wetlands conservation.”
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) stimulates public-private partnerships in support of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. NAWCA is a non-regulatory, incentive-based, voluntary and competitive habitat conservation grant program. NAWCA provides federal cost-share funding to protect, restore and manage wetland habitats for wildlife. Many NAWCA projects provide outstanding recreational opportunities for people, from bird watching to hunting.
To date, NAWCA has helped fund more than 1,400 projects on more than 20 million acres in all 50 states, every province of Canada and areas of Mexico. Thousands of partners, including private landowners, corporations 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.