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DU meets with Congressional leadership and Administration officials to discuss conservation

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WASHINGTON – February 13, 2008 – Ducks Unlimited Executive Vice President Don Young was joined by other wildlife conservation organizations today to deliver a strong message on behalf of sportsmen and habitat:  protect and expand habitat conservation and opportunities for sportsmen.

Young and DU conservation leader Dr. Tina Yerkes met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), Senators Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Russ Feingold (Wis.) and 11 other Senators to discuss issues relating to hunters and anglers. 

In two subsequent meetings, Young and DU Washington staff met with senior White House, Department of Agriculture, and Interior Department leaders to discuss conservation priorities, as well as House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (Minn.) to discuss the state of conservation in the Farm Bill.

“Issues that face hunters and sportsmen affect the entire American population,” Young said. “We exchanged information on wetlands protection, agricultural conservation programs, biofuels and the climate’s effect on waterfowl. It was gratifying to see the interest and knowledge of Congress and the agency leaders about our priorities.”

Young also talked about the importance of protecting geographically isolated wetlands in terms of promoting clean water and protecting waterfowl habitat. 

“Geographically isolated wetlands provide numerous benefits for people and wildlife, but the protections for them have been eroded. The Ducks Unlimited-supported Clean Water Restoration Act would restore those protections. Water quality and waterfowl habitat are threatened by loss of Clean Water Act protection,” said Young.

The Clean Water Restoration Act has been introduced in both the House by Rep. Jim Oberstar (Minn.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and in the Senate by Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.).  The legislation would codify protections for geographically isolated wetlands lost in actions resulting from two Supreme Court cases.

“Energy independence and addressing climate change are important goals,” said Young. “Cellulosic ethanol and carbon sequestration using land conservation are important tools towards mitigating climate change. They also have value in the potential to protect habitat. Ducks Unlimited is working in partnership with private landowners and industry to achieve the dual goals of sequestering greenhouse gases and conserving waterfowl and wildlife habitat.”

In a meeting with USDA Under Secretary Mark Rey, Young was joined DU Board member John Tomke to discuss working with the administration to support strong conservation provisions in the Farm Bill. Farm Bill conservation programs are critical to breeding grounds in the Prairie Pothole Region. Seeing these conservation programs secured is one of Ducks Unlimited’s top organizational priorities. More than 2 million ducks are produced annually on Conservation Reserve Program land alone.

Later in the day, Young and DU staff spoke with House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson about the status of popular conservation programs like the Wetlands Reserve Program and the Conservation Reserve Program.  Peterson cautioned that the Farm Bill will revert to the original law from 1949, if differences between the Congress and the Bush administration’s requests for the bill are not resolved, which does not include conservation provisions.

“With the Farm Bill being put into its final form right now, it is critical that we maintain open communications with Congress and the administration to ensure strong conservation outcomes,” said Young. “Chairman Harkin, Chairman Peterson, and administration leaders will be instrumental in determining the future of programs like the Wetlands Reserve Program and the Grasslands Reserve Program.”

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. 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.


Contact:  Neil Shader – (202) 347-1530, nshader@ducks.org

For more information, please see www.ducks.org/cwra and www.ducks.org/farmbill

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