NAWCA - North American Wetlands Conservation Act

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NAWCA Overview

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act conserves North America's waterfowl, fish and wildlife resources while producing a variety of environmental and economic benefits. Its success is driven by partnerships involving federal, state and local governments; nonprofit organizations like DU and community groups. This program represents a sound investment of limited federal dollars as each must be matched at least one-to-one but funds are often doubled or tripled at the local level. In fact, NAWCA grants totaling more than $2.1 billion have leveraged over $4.3 billion for NAWCA projects through matching funds. Since its inception in 1989, more than 3,300 NAWCA projects have contributed to the conservation of almost 32 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands across North America.

NAWCA History

NAWCA was enacted more than 30 years ago to provide federal cost-share funding to support the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, an international agreement that provides a strategy for the long-term protection of wetlands and associated uplands habitats needed by waterfowl and other migratory birds in North America.

NAWCA is a non-regulatory, incentive-based, voluntary wildlife conservation program. NAWCA stimulates public-private partnerships to protect, restore, and manage wetland habitats for a diversity of migratory birds and other wildlife. NAWCA partnership grants play an important role in meeting DU’s mission, from restoring wetlands that have been altered, and enhancing water availability, to reducing soil erosion and the likelihood of floods. NAWCA grants also help improve water and air quality and recharge ground water. In addition, many projects provide outstanding recreational opportunities, from bird watching to hunting.

NAWCA provides challenge grants for wetlands conservation projects in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Every dollar of federal money allotted to NAWCA must be matched by a dollar or more from non-federal sources like DU, or state fish and wildlife agencies. Because this program is so effective, funds are often doubled or tripled at the local level. Funds from U.S. Federal sources may contribute towards a project, but are not eligible as a match.

In Washington, D.C., the Ducks Unlimited Government Affairs staff works with Congress in support of annual funding and the reauthorization of NAWCA to keep building on the Act's waterfowl conservation success.

To date, NAWCA has helped fund more than 3,300 projects on almost 32 million acres in all 50 states, areas of Canada and areas of Mexico. More than 6,800 partners, including private landowners, industry and state governments have worked together to conserve wildlife habitat through NAWCA grants.

Other resources:

NAWCA fact sheets by state: