Federal Funding Earmarked to Restore and Protect Wetlands in U.S. and Mexico
More than a quarter million acres of wetland habitat in the U.S. and Mexico will be restored and protected with the help of millions of dollars of federal funding and partner contributions.
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission recently approved funding to purchase waterfowl habitat and fund an array of wetlands, migratory waterfowl, and associated conservation projects in the U.S. and Mexico. With the Commission’s approval, over 277,000 acres of wetlands will be restored in the two countries and over 6,000 acres of waterfowl habitat will be added to eight National Wildlife Refuges in seven states.
The Commission approves projects for funding under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. This federal funding encourages partnerships to protect, enhance, restore, and manage wetlands and other habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife resources in North America. The Commission also approves the use of Migratory Bird Conservation Funds–supported in large part by Federal Duck Stamp sales–to purchase lands for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
More than $22.6 million was approved under the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund to support 34 conservation projects in 14 states. Partners in the 21 U.S. projects will add more than $74.1 million to restore more than 121,156 acres of wetlands and associated uplands. Partners in the 13 projects in 9 Mexican states will add nearly $4 million to improve more than 156,000 acres of habitat in that country.
The grants are financed by annual Congressional appropriations; fines, penalties, and forfeitures under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; interest accrued to the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act; and excise taxes paid on small engine fuels through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Fund.
The Commission also approved the use of more than $13 million under the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to acquire 6,566 acres of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Fund receives revenue from Duck Stamp sales, import duties on firearms and ammunition, and right-of-way payments to the refuge system. New refuge acquisitions, all previously approved by the Service and each of the states, include:
–Arkansas: Acquisition of 212 acres to preserve and protect waterfowl production and wintering habitat at the Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge in White County.
–Louisiana: Acquisition of 850 acres to provide habitat for resident and migratory waterfowl at the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge in West Feliciana Parish.
–Massachusetts: Acquisition of 149 acres to conserve and protect migratory waterfowl habitat and provide feeding, resting, and nesting habitat at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Hampshire County.
–Mississippi: Acquisition of 1,120 acres to conserve and restore bottomland hardwood habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl at the Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge in Quitman and Tallahatchie Counties, and Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Yazoo County.
–Montana: Acquisition of 3,784 acres and lease of 3,266 acres to protect wetland and upland habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds at the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Beaverhead County.
–New Jersey: Acquisition of 85 acres to protect wintering and nesting migratory bird habitat at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Atlantic, Burlington, and Ocean counties.
–Texas: Acquisition of 46 acres to provide waterfowl habitat at the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge in Brazoria and Fort Bend counties.
The Commission meets three times a year and includes Senators Thad Cochran and Blanche Lincoln, Representatives John Dingell, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, with Interior Secretary Kempthorne serving as Chairman.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 547 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices, and 81 ecological services field stations.
The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.