Migratory Bird Conservation Commission Approves Acquisition Of 9,000 Acres Of Wetlands For National Wildlife Refuge System

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission on Wednesday approved $28 million in funding to conserve, restore, and enhance vital wetlands, including acquisition of more than 9,000 acres of waterfowl habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System. 

“Conserving wetlands is one of most important things we can do to ensure our land and wildlife remain healthy,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who attended her first meeting in her role as chairwoman of the commission. “These key investments will help strengthen the wetlands that provide vital habitat for ducks, herons, warblers and hundreds of other species as well as give us clean water to drink, boost local economies, and provide us all a place to enjoy the great outdoors.”

The commission approved close to $4 million in projects for land purchases and leases on three refuges with funds raised largely through the sale of Federal Duck Stamps.

In addition, the panel approved $23.7 million in grants through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act to protect, restore or enhance nearly 89,000 acres of habitat for migratory birds in the United States and Canada, leveraging $28.5 million in matching funds. 

“The commission's work protects some of the most valued -- and threatened -- habitats on the continent,” Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said. "Wetlands support birds all along their migratory routes, and these projects will improve habitat for species as they move northward this summer.”

Southeast projects include:

  • In Louisiana, at Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge, approval to acquire more than 3,200 acres in fee title for $3.76 million will almost complete the current footprint of this refuge.  The refuge provides high quality habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl.
  • In Kentucky, this project will provide funding for The Nature Conservancy to enhance and restore 385 acres of wetlands along the Ohio River.
  • In North Carolina funds for The Nature Conservancy will protect and restore 455 acres, reinstating natural fire regimes to improve habitat quality in three bays in Hoke and Roberson Counties.
  • In Florida National Park Service, The Institute for Regional Conservation will work together with other partners to restore 371 acres of freshwater and saltwater marshes along Biscayne Bay by removing invasive species, restoring natural fire regimes and water flow, and installing nest boxes.
  • In Tennessee, funding will help Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency permanently protect 200 acres adjacent to other conservation lands in the Bark Camp Barrens area, which contains unique, high-quality forested wetlands, upland forest, and grasslands. Another project will protect 209 acres of migratory bird habitat on the Forked Deer River.

As part of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act funding, the commission approved $20.7 million in grants through the Standard Grants Program to support nine Canadian projects that will benefit ducks, geese and other migratory birds on 36,744 acres in 12 provinces and territories, leveraging $21 million in matching funds.

The commission had previously approved funding for the 2013 U.S. Small Grants Program.  Forty-six grants were selected under the program, totaling $3 million and leveraging $7.6 million to conserve 52,145 acres of wetland and associated habitats in 29 states from coast to coast.

Examples of projects funded through the Canada Standard Grants Program include:

• In the Canadian Prairie/Parkland and Western Boreal Forest, which support an average of 72 percent of North America’s breeding ducks, Ducks Unlimited Canada will protect 14,164 acres through land purchase and enhance an additional 6,693 acres by building wetlands infrastructure and converting vegetative cover.

• In the Canadian Prairie Pothole region, the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation will secure 4,390 acres of habitat for ducks and geese. Included within this acreage is the protection of 1,700 acres of native prairie identified in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan that will also benefit at-risk species.

• The Nature Conservancy of Canada will protect wetlands in the Northern Appalachian/Acadian Ecoregion. Acquisition of 1,500 acres will benefit species such as American black duck, green-winged teal and Canada goose. The grantee will also educate landowners and recreational users about the value of wetlands to wildlife and healthy functioning of ecosystems.

Examples of projects funded through the U.S. Small Grants Program include:

• In Minnesota, the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District will restore and enhance 24,748 acres to increase nesting cover on federally protected sites for migratory waterfowl.  The addition of wetlands on these sites will help local communities that have been hit hard by floodwaters from the Red River, slowing and reducing future flooding along the Red River and its tributaries.

• On Deal Island, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will enhance 2,916 acres of tidal wetlands by managing water levels and by removing invasive plants to promote the growth and establishment of native plant communities that will support more migratory birds and other wetland-dependent species.

• Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory will work in Colorado and Kansas to restore three forks of the Republican River in a basin that supports 129 bird species and 29 percent of Colorado’s vertebrate species.  The grantee will work with partners to create habitat for waterfowl roosting by restoring 321 acres of river banks, corridors and channels.

Migratory Bird Conservation Commission members include U.S. Senators Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, U.S. Representatives John Dingell of Michigan and Robert Wittman of Virginia, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe, as well as state representatives serving as ex-officio members who vote on projects located within their respective states. 

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act program is the only federal grants program dedicated to the conservation of wetland habitats for migratory birds.  In FY 2013, grant partners have been awarded a total of $61.7 million to conduct 99 conservation projects through the United States, Canada and Mexico Standard Grants programs and the U.S. Small Grants Program.

More information about the Small Grants projects announced today is available at http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NAWCA/Small/2013.shtm

More information about the Canada Standard Grants program is available at http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NAWCA/Standard/Canada/

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