Conservation Q&A 

with Gary Taylor, DU Director of Governmental Affairs
What were the most important legislative accomplishments for wetlands and waterfowl during the 112th Congress?

The RESTORE Act will bring vitally needed funding for environmental remediation and restoration of the Gulf Coast. This region is a priority area for Ducks Unlimited, and the act will assist recovery efforts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The 112th Congress also passed a two-year extension of the federal tax incentive for private landowners who donate conservation easements on their property. 

Now that the 113th Congress is under way, what are our top legislative priorities for this session and why?

Reauthorization of a comprehensive Farm Bill must be accomplished in the 113th Congress. The Farm Bill delivers more on-the-ground conservation on private lands than any other program. DU's top priority is to achieve a strong portfolio of conservation programs in this legislation, including recoupling conservation with crop insurance and the creation of a national Sodsaver program.

Another DU legislative priority in 2013 is to reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and secure adequate appropriations for it. For a modest investment of federal dollars, NAWCA delivers significant wetlands and associated uplands conservation by leveraging more than three dollars from nonfederal sources for every dollar from the federal government.

In addition, it will be important to raise the price of the federal duck stamp, which has been only $15 since 1991. Funds raised from federal duck stamp sales contribute to the conservation of important wetland habitat across the United States, but especially in the Prairie Pothole Region

In general, we expect to be challenged to substantiate the value and merits of all conservation programs as a result of the need for fiscal discipline in federal spending. Hunters and anglers must ally themselves not only with other conservationists, but also with the general public to demonstrate that these programs grow the economy, particularly in rural areas; create domestic jobs that cannot be exported; deliver goods and commodities for our citizens; contribute to the public's health and quality of life; and sustain our nation's economic vitality.

What can DU members do to help?

Get to know your elected officials and their staff members, and let them know that you support conservation legislation. Schedule visits with members of Congress or staff when they are home in your state and look for opportunities to tell them firsthand what these programs mean to you and your community. You, your friends, and your neighbors are in the best position to bring this message to your legislators.

Stay tuned to DU's website, action alerts, and social media to stay informed and to learn how your voice can be most effective to assist DU in meeting our conservation objectives. Thank you for your interest and engagement!