WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2006 – In a year when wetland conservation experienced setbacks in the Supreme Court, the U.S. House of Representatives lent a helping hand to conservation by acting to reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). Since 1989, NAWCA has successfully fostered over 3,000 partnerships, both public and private, and have implemented more than 1,500 projects to conserve more than 22 million acres of wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl, other migratory birds and wildlife.
“This is great news,” said Ducks Unlimited Executive Vice President Don Young. “All of us benefit from wetlands. Every duck hunter and person interested in the outdoors and water issues should support continuing this incredibly successful wetlands program.”
NAWCA is a landmark investment in wetlands conservation. The proposed reauthorization bill asks for a five-year extension for NAWCA and authorizes up to $375 million in funding during that time. DU Governmental Affairs staff will work with Senators and staff to expedite the passage of the bill through the Senate.
NAWCA projects are funded after assessing their benefit to continent-wide waterfowl conservation in accordance with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Since its inception, the partner match has actually been $3 for every $1 in federal money, even though the requirement is only 1-to-1. These partner contributions have totaled more than $2 billion during the past 16 years.
Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (Calif.) and Ranking Member Nick Rahall (W.V.) have been joined by Representatives John D. Dingell (Mich.), Thelma Drake (Va.), Wayne Gilchrest (Md.), Mark Kennedy (Minn.) and Curt Weldon (Pa.) as original co-sponsors of the legislation, which also garnered 13 other sponsors.
“The strong bipartisan support for NAWCA is indicative of the program’s record of achievements and potential for the future,” said Scott Sutherland, director of DU’s governmental affairs office. “We appreciate the leadership by the Resource Committee’s senior members and their introduction of this important bill. We also thank the members of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission for their continued strong support.”
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.