BATON ROUGE – May 6, 2015 – Ducks Unlimited has been awarded five North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants to support its restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast. More than $4.6 million in NAWCA funding will be combined with nearly $10 million in partner funding to restore more than 21,800 acres in coastal Texas and Louisiana. These projects will provide high quality foraging habitat capable of supporting more than 70,000 ducks throughout the winter.
"The coastal prairies and marshes of Texas and Louisiana provide some of the most critical waterfowl habitat on the continent. Unfortunately, this habitat and all of its values to wildlife, fisheries and people are disappearing," said DU Director of Conservation Programs Jerry Holden. "We are battling a long-term crisis of coastal marsh loss exacerbated by the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and the selection of these grants reflects a national understanding of that importance."
Gulf Coast wetlands protect nationally important infrastructure for energy and shipping industries and provide critical waterfowl, fisheries and cultural resources.
"While our focus is waterfowl habitat, it's important to remember DU's conservation work makes a huge difference for all wetland dependent species, especially people," Holden said.
In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon incident that claimed 11 lives and dumped an estimated 3.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Ducks Unlimited has received $5.35 million in funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation administered Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund for projects to improve migratory bird habitat in coastal Texas and Louisiana. In addition to the NFWF grants, DU has received $3.6 million in Gulf Coast NAWCA grants supported by Gulf Spill funding, including one of the five grants in this latest round of funding. Ducks Unlimited and its conservation partners match every NAWCA dollar at least 1:1, and on average 2:1.
"Since our Dust Bowl era founding during the Great Depression, Ducks Unlimited has been making the best out of bad situations for North America's wetlands," Holden said. "Even the cloud of oil at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico had a silver lining, and we will harness it for the benefit of waterfowl, other wildlife and people."
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989 was passed, in part, to support activities under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. It provides competitive, matching grants to organizations and individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico for the benefit of wetlands-associated migratory birds and other wildlife. Program funding comes from Congressional appropriations; fines, penalties, and forfeitures collected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918; the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950; and from interest accrued on the fund established under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. 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 13 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. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/DucksUnlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/DucksUnlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/DucksUnlimitedInc.