COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa, April 24, 2006– Ducks Unlimited (DU) and its partners will restore floodplain wetland habitat in the Middle Missouri River Valley of Iowa and Nebraska, thanks to a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant. This grant is phase II of the Middle Missouri River Valley Project (MMRVP) to create larger complexes of managed wetland and grassland habitats that will provide “stepping stones” of habitat for migratory waterfowl in the spring and fall.
“The loss of floodplain wetlands and native grassland habitats within the MMRVP area has been tremendous,” said Roger Pederson, manager of conservation programs for Iowa. “We’ll be restoring some of these habitats and permanently protecting them for migratory waterfowl and other birds.” Pederson said he expects the project to take two years to complete.
The MMRVP area encompasses the 7 counties bordering the Missouri River in Iowa and 11 counties bordering the Missouri River in Nebraska. DU and partners in this project will protect 3,016 acres of wetlands and 902 acres of uplands through fee-title acquisition or fee donation. Over $2.5 million in matching funds will be paired with $1 million in NAWCA grant funds.
The partnership, formed under the NAWCA grant, will purchase private lands already enrolled in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wetlands Reserve Program, enhance them and add them to existing Wetland Management Areas in Iowa and Nebraska. The project also involves land donations, including 616 acres that will be donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to become part of the Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) complex in Nebraska. Boyer Chute NWR was created with strong public support in 1997 in the “Back to the River Initiative.”
Project activities will significantly add to the habitat base for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and other water-dependent wildlife and will help ensure the availability of foraging sites during spring and fall migration.
“This project is a great example of how public agencies, conservation organizations and private landowners can work together through NAWCA to benefit wetlands, migratory birds, and people,” said Senator Ben Nelson. “The Middle Missouri River Valley has a rich waterfowling tradition and I am particularly excited about the value of this NAWCA project to hunters and birders in Nebraska.”
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 program’s waterfowl conservation success. Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson has shown strong support for wetlands conservation and funding for NAWCA.
Other partners working alongside Ducks Unlimited to help fund this important effort are United States Department of Agriculture, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, private landowner Royce Gramm, Harrison County Conservation Board, Pheasants Forever and the Nemaha County Natural Resource District. Other partners include the Sioux Rivers Resource Conservation and Development, and USFW. The Woodbury County Conservation Board was a key contributor to Phase I of the MMRVP area and floodplain restoration effort.
NAWCA stimulates public-private partnerships in support of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The Act 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 projects also provide outstanding recreational opportunities for people, from bird watching to hunting.
To date, NAWCA has helped fund more than 1,500 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. For more information on NAWCA, go to http://www.ducks.org/nawca.