MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Dec. 21, 2011 – Ducks and other wetland-dependent wildlife will benefit from last week's congressional approval of a $35.5 million budget for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) program for FY 2012. While significantly less than what the administration recommended months ago, this number is much improved from an initial $20 million figure proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the spring, largely through the work of Ducks Unlimited, its supporters and other conservation organizations.
NAWCA's FY12 funding is part of H.R. 2112, a package of bills keeping the government funded through Sept. 30, 2012, NAWCA's current expiration date. With the future of this program and the nation's wetlands hanging in the balance, DU is urging its supporters and all Americans to seek their representatives' support of H.R. 1960, a bill that would reauthorize NAWCA through 2017.
"Due to the hard work and communications from staff and volunteers alike, this year's cuts to NAWCA were not as bad as we feared," said DU President John Newman. "Now we turn our focus to our goal of reauthorizing the program and an even more challenging FY13."
To address the nation's debt crisis, Congress will seek a minimum of $1.2 trillion in cuts for FY13, which could spell danger for NAWCA and other long-standing conservation programs that have delivered results for the economy and the environment.
"We need the help of our supporters to get this critical piece of legislation reauthorized for another five years," said Newman. "We don't want to give legislators an excuse or opportunity to eliminate funding for such a model program, so we're asking everyone to take action early in 2012."
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NAWCA conserves the continent's waterfowl, fish and wildlife resources while producing a variety of environmental and economic benefits. Its success is driven by partnerships with federal, state and local governments; nonprofit organizations like DU; and community groups. Every federal dollar provided by NAWCA must be matched by at least one dollar from non-federal sources. But because the program is so effective, NAWCA funds are usually tripled or quadrupled on the local level.
"Since its inception, NAWCA has contributed to the conservation of more than 25 million acres of habitat across North America, through 1,600 separate DU projects," said Paul Schmidt, chief conservation officer for Ducks Unlimited. "This program is absolutely critical to the future of waterfowl habitat and DU's work across the continent—we need strong voices of conservation on Capitol Hill to keep NAWCA thriving after Sept. 30."
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.