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"Eleventh Hour" Gains for Wetlands Conservation

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Congress Extends Key Habitat Programs to Benefit Waterfowl

Washington DC - October 2, 2006 – Last minute action proved to be beneficial to waterfowl and wildlife as Congress acted to continue three popular conservation programs.  In the waning hours before the electoral recess, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to extend the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act and the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act.  The conservation bills now await signature by President Bush.

“Passage of these bills is an important victory for wetlands and waterfowl,” said Ducks Unlimited Executive Vice-President Don Young.  “This is a needed step for on-the-ground conservation programs and will benefit DU’s partnership work in key habitat areas across the continent.”

The bills were passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, after passing in the House of Representatives.

“The passage of these bills provides an excellent opportunity for continuing habitat conservation,” said DU Governmental Affairs Office Director Scott Sutherland.  “Biologists show us that the key to perpetuating wildlife is assuring adequate habitat.  As formerly wild areas decrease, wildlife populations are paying the price.  These programs restore habitat desperately needed by affected species.”

 NAWCA was first authorized in 1989, and provides a critical tool for public-private efforts to conserve wetlands in all 50 states and areas of Canada and Mexico.  NAWCA helps fulfill the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and has helped foster hundreds of unique partnerships to conserve more than 20 million acres of habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.  The legislation passed extends the program for another five years and a potential of up to $375 million for future NAWCA projects. 

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act was also extended and expanded to include Canada in its purview of protecting and conserving migratory bird habitats across North America and the Caribbean.  Many species of waterfowl and migratory birds breed in the Prairie Pothole and Western Boreal Forest regions of Canada and spend the winter months south of the U.S. border.  Expansion of the program to include Canada will help address habitat challenges along the entire migratory route of these species.

The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act was also extended and will greatly enhance opportunities for habitat restoration in the Great Lakes basin.  The Great Lakes watershed is a priority area for Ducks Unlimited because of its importance to breeding, migrating and wintering waterfowl.  Extension of this program with an expanded role for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state fish and wildlife agencies will greatly enhance opportunities for the restoration of wetlands and associated uplands in the Great Lakes region.

Contact: Ashlie Houston
202-347-1530
ahouston@ducks.org 

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 80,000 wetland acres each year.

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