WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 30, 2019 – Former U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi passed away today, following his retirement from the Senate last year.
During his 45-year career the Senator served as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and as the Chairman for the Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition. Cochran was the longest serving Senator of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (MBCC) with 36 years of service. The Senator was instrumental in wetlands related programs such as the Wetlands Reserve Easement program in the Farm Bill and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).
“For more than 45 years the conservation, agriculture and wildlife communities had a fearless leader in Thad Cochran,” said retiring DU CEO Dale Hall. “The Senator inherently understood the partnership between agriculture and wetlands conservation, not only for the environmental benefits, but the societal ones too. To many Americans, wetlands symbolize a waterfowling and hunting tradition, a tradition that Senator Cochran tried to preserve throughout his career. Our nation owes a great debt to Senator Cochran. Our public lands, wildlife and wetlands have all benefitted from his unwavering service and dedication.”
During Senator Cochran’s tenure on the MBCC, the USFWS used Duck Stamp dollars to conserve a total of 2,391,263 acres, which included 709,128 acres in 131 national wildlife refuges spanning 39 states. And since the inception of NAWCA in 1989, Sen. Cochran and his colleagues approved more than 2,644 projects that conserved more than 29.8 million acres of bird habitat across North America.
As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Cochran also worked hard to strengthen America's rural communities by developing and funding programs for which farmers, ranchers, and landowners depend, while also recognizing the importance for our nation’s wetlands.
The Senator was influential in launching the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), which continues in its present name as Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE). This program, currently in its 25th year, is responsible for restoring wetlands on over 700,000 acres of marginal farmland in the three states of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and conserving more than three million acres nationwide.
“There will be no one else like Senator Cochran,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “He was a quiet giant in the Senate, persuading and leading his colleagues to support programs that made an impact for millions of Americans. He more than deserves recognition as a true champion for conservation, leaving a long-lasting legacy for waterfowl and wild places. We look forward to working with all of his successors in Congress to sustain his legacy.”
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 14 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.
Tucker Clare Nelson