WASHINGTON – The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, chaired by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt, approved more than $130 million in funding for various wetland conservation projects.
The 2020 North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants will be used to ensure waterfowl and other birds are protected throughout their life cycles. Of the projects approved, $33.3 million will be allocated for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to conserve or restore more than 157,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds for 32 projects in 21 states throughout the United States. These grants will be matched by almost $85 million in partner funds.
“The Trump Administration continues to take significant conservation actions benefiting all Americans, particularly hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. It has never been more important than now that we conserve our great outdoors and expand public access to public lands, and the Trump Administration is doing that,” said Secretary Bernhardt.
“The Trump Administration continues to support wetland restoration and habitat conservation projects that benefit waterfowl and many other species while improving access to outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands for all Americans,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith.
Wetlands provide many ecological, economic and social benefits such as habitat for fish, wildlife and a variety of plants. NAWCA grants conserve bird populations and wetland habitat while supporting local economies and American traditions such as hunting, fishing, birdwatching, family farming and cattle ranching. This year’s projects include:
- Chenier Plain Marsh Enhancement – Louisiana – $1 million to enhance 3,950 acres of coastal marsh. Improved management capabilities will enhance overall marsh quality and benefit a wide variety of resident, migratory and wintering species of shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species.
- Conserving Maine’s Coast & Headwaters II – $1 million to acquire over 13,000 acres of wetlands and associated uplands. The project will benefit many species of birds, including American bitterns, bald eagles and American black ducks.
- San Joaquin Wetlands Conservation IV – California – $1 million to restore and enhance over 1,500 acres in the California’s Central Valley. Activities will benefit species including cackling goose, American wigeon and sandhill cranes.
“This investment in our nation’s wetlands will help preserve wildlife habitats and support the recreation activities of sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts. I’m proud to serve on the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission and advocate for the conservation of our natural resources so public lands will be available for the enjoyment of future generations of Americans,” said U.S. Senator John Boozman (AR).
“Today the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission of which I am a member, held the first-ever virtual meeting since it was formed. Commission members vote to conserve public lands using funding from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, funded from the sale of Duck Stamps,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05). “We voted to protect over 158,000 acres for people across our nation to use and to preserve their beauty for generations to come.”
“Our nation’s wetlands are one of the most important natural resource for ecological conservation, recreation, protection from flooding, and maintenance of habitats for the birds and other wildlife that call them home,” said U.S. Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01). “Along the Chesapeake Bay especially, wetlands are a vital part of our environment. I am grateful to Secretary Bernhardt and the Migratory Bird Conservation Commissioner for their work and these funds to further protect our coastal habit.”
“Wetlands and waterfowl habitat are disappearing at an alarming rate across North America,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam. “Thanks to the MBCC and Secretary Bernhardt, this funding will continue to expand efforts to protect and enhance wetlands habitat to ensure future generations have the same opportunity to enjoy nature as we have.”
“NAWCA program accomplishments in California have been impressive, with over 180 projects that have enhanced or restored nearly one million acres, from the Salton Sea through the Sacramento Valley all the way up to Klamath Lake region in northeast California/southern Oregon,” said President of the California Waterfowl Association and member of the North American Wetlands Conservation Council John Carlson Jr.
The commission also received a report on 34 NAWCA small grants, which were approved by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council in February. Small grants are awarded for smaller projects up to $100,000 to encourage new grantees and partners to carry out smaller-scale conservation work. The commission has authorized the council to approve these projects up to a $5 million. This year, $3.2 million in grants was matched by $7.8 million in partner funds.
NAWCA is the only federal grant program dedicated to the conservation of wetland habitats for migratory birds. Since 1989, funding has advanced the conservation of wetland habitats and their wildlife in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico while engaging more than 6,300 partners in over 3,000 projects. More information about the grant projects is available here.
The commission also approved nearly $1 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve 419 acres on national wildlife refuges in three states. These funds were raised largely through the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as “Duck Stamps.”
These funds will be used to purchase or lease waterfowl habitat at the following national wildlife refuges:
- Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Missouri – $532,000 for 197 acres. The project will protect waterfowl breeding and stopover habitat and provide public opportunities for wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing and wildlife observation and photography, in the urban St. Louis Metropolitan Area.
- Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota – $176,000 for 160 acres. The project will protect wetlands that provide habitat for dabbling and diving duck species, and protect grasslands that provide habitat for upland-nesting duck species, including mallards, blue-winged teal and gadwalls, as well as other migratory birds. The project will provide public opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation, including hunting and wildlife observation.
- Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Connecticut – $250,000 for 62 acres. The project will protect habitat for waterfowl, including American black ducks and wood ducks, as well as for wading birds and other migratory birds, and provide public opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation, including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation.
Funds raised from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps go toward the acquisition or lease of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Duck Stamps – while required for waterfowl hunters as an annual license – are also voluntarily purchased by birders, outdoor enthusiasts and fans of national wildlife refuges who understand the value of preserving some of the most diverse and important wildlife habitats in our nation.
Since 1934, the Federal Duck Stamp Program and Migratory Bird Conservation Fund have provided more than $1 billion for habitat conservation in the Refuge System.
The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is an unparalleled network of 568 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas. Refuges offer world-class public recreation, from fishing, hunting and wildlife observation to photography and environmental education. More than 55 million people visit refuges every year, creating economic booms for local communities.
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior. Its members include Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico; Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas; Reps. Robert J. Wittman of Virginia and Mike Thompson of California; Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture; and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The commission has helped in conserving much of this nation’s most important waterfowl habitat and in establishing or enhancing many of the country’s most popular destinations for waterfowl hunting.
Additional information about North American wetlands and waterfowl conservation can be found at https://www.fws.gov/birds, which offers waterfowl enthusiasts, biologists and agency managers with the most up-to-date waterfowl habitat and population information.