Six NAWCA projects approved in Great Plains Region

Congressional support needed to ensure projects are funded 
BISMARCK, N.D., October 4, 2011 – The Migratory Bird Conservation Council has approved six conservation projects that will positively impact waterfowl habitat in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. If funded and completed, these projects will conserve more than 47,000 acres. Dollars for these projects will come from North American Wetland Conservation Act grants and matching funds provided by non-federal partners. 

The approved NAWCA projects focus on techniques to target priority waterfowl habitats for conservation, protecting habitat, restoring wetlands and associated grasslands and development of sustainable grazing systems. 

"Whether these projects are a go depends on how much money comes through the door," DU Manager of Conservation Programs Randy Renner said. "We need to wait until Congress finalizes the federal appropriations, then we will know how much funding NAWCA will receive and which projects will be funded. It is likely that several projects will go unfunded, and we will have lost a great conservation opportunity." 

The MBCC ranked each of the 21 NAWCA project proposals and those ranked lower on the list are less likely to get funded if appropriations are limited. One of the projects in Montana is ranked second, while two South Dakota projects are ranked 18 and 19. 

A recent message from the MBCC to grantees said grant agreement processing would be delayed "due to the uncertainty concerning the appropriated FY 2012 funding level for NAWCA." 

The strength of NAWCA lies in the matching funds that come from non-federal partners. NAWCA is a good investment of federal dollars. The six Great Plains region projects have tremendous support from partners who have provided more than $7.9 million in matching funds to the $6 million federal investment. NAWCA is a cost-effective, bipartisan, match-based program that on average raises 3.2 non-federal dollars for every federal dollar invested.

While NAWCA is a strongly supported and highly effective program, it is currently facing deep budget cuts in Congress for the 2012 fiscal year. The House has proposed to cut NAWCA funding by up to $17.5 million from its FY 2011 level. A funding cut of this proportion could seriously jeopardize the program's ability to conserve prime waterfowl habitat

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.

Jennifer Kross

Becky Jones Mahlum