MEMPHIS, Tenn., April 21, 2011—
During a national sportsmen’s teleconference that drew more than 5,000 listeners, DU CEO Dale Hall and National Wildlife Federation CEO Larry Schweiger urged sportsmen to ask Congress to support legislation that ensures penalties paid by BP under the Clean Water Act
be directed back to the Gulf Coast region.
To listen to a recording of the 30-minute teleconference on the DU website, click here
The focus of the teleconference, which occurred on the one year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
, also raised awareness about the importance of the Gulf’s coastal wetlands to waterfowl populations and local communities and the damaging effects that will occur if these precious habitats are not restored and sustained.
“There is no doubt that last year’s oil spill has resulted in major consequences for habitat
, waterfowl and other wildlife on the Gulf Coast. In order to protect this vital ecosystem from vanishing, we must focus on policy initiatives and projects that will prevent the long-term loss of Louisiana coastal wetlands,” Hall said. “The Gulf Coast parishes and counties provide wintering and stopping grounds for more than 10 million ducks and geese, not including other countless wildlife that depend on these habitats. If we do not conserve these crucial areas now, the Gulf’s rich waterfowling tradition could be lost forever.”
For decades, DU has been working on the ground, in the halls of Congress and in state capitols to promote long-term wetlands restoration efforts. Since the spill, DU and its partners have formally requested that Congress support legislation that ensures penalties paid by BP under the Clean Water Act be directed back to the Gulf Coast
region. Directing these penalty fees back into the areas affected by the oil spill is essential to the recovery of the Gulf’s coastline and overall way of life. Without such investments, the Gulf Coast’s recovery efforts will be seriously threatened.
“DU and its partners feel very strongly that the Gulf’s already vulnerable communities will remain in jeopardy and be susceptible to future disasters if habitat restoration investments are not made now,” said Bart James, director of public policy at DU’s Governmental Affairs Office
. “Currently, the Gulf is losing wetlands and coastal marsh at an alarming rate, putting both coastal and inland communities, as well as infrastructures, in jeopardy. We believe using CWA fines levied against the responsible parties to restore the Gulf’s ecosystem is a rational and necessary solution.”
In order to protect waterfowl and other water bird populations, DU partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative. This initiative provides fall, winter and spring flooding of interior coastal rice agricultural and other wetlands for waterfowl, water birds and other wetland-dependent wildlife whose habitats were at risk from the spill. Currently, this initiative has resulted in the flooding of nearly 79,000 acres of shallow harvested rice fields, idle rice fields and other wetlands to provide foraging habitat for a variety of bird species.
“While the MBHI was initially developed to provide alternative habitat after the oil spill, this initiative is also desperately needed to off-set the estimated long-term loss of foraging habitats in coastal wetlands,” said Dr. Tom Moorman, director of conservation
planning for DU’s Southern Region. “Now, DU is working to secure funding to continue a similar conservation program indefinitely in coastal Louisiana and Texas to ensure that desired populations of waterfowl can continue to winter in this continentally significant wintering area.”
Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.