Enhancement bill signifies milestone

Canadian funding to go toward wetlands conservation projects

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – March 30, 2010 – For the first time since its inception more than 20 years ago, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) can allow Canadian funding sources to count toward the dollar-for-dollar match required by the U.S. government.

A bill allowing the addition of Canadian funding was recently signed into law by President Obama after being passed unanimously by Congress last year.

DU Chief Biologist Dale Humburg talks about the impact this enhancement to NAWCA could have on wetlands conservation.

Congressman Rob Wittman (Va.), one of the members of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, introduced the bill into Congress in 2009. Scott Sutherland, Ducks Unlimited's director of governmental affairs, testified in favor of the bill before the House Natural Resources Committee.

"NAWCA continues to be one of the great success stories for conservation, and by enhancing the program to allow investment from Canadian sources, that success can continue," Sutherland said at the hearing. "Allowing Canadian funds to match the federal grants will help NAWCA projects continue to be matched by an average of $2 for every dollar from the U.S. government."

More than 1,600 NAWCA projects have contributed to the conservation of more than 25 million acres of habitat across North America. Each project requires at least a 1:1 match for each dollar contributed by the federal government. However, the projects often attract 2-3 times that from conservationists, local government and others. Over $1 billion in federal grants has been allocated for NAWCA projects, a figure that has leveraged an additional $3 billion from matching and non-matching funds.

"This bill will enable DU and our many partners to strengthen and expand our collective efforts to conserve waterfowl habitats across North America, especially in the critical breeding area of Canada's Prairie Pothole Region," said Scott Yaich, DU's director of conservation operations.

Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest non-profit 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.

Lauren Oxner