The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) committed to increasing its contributions supporting wetlands restoration on Canadian breeding grounds important to Tennessee's waterfowl.
"TWRA has been a dedicated wetlands conservation partner for many years," Ducks Unlimited Director of Conservation Programs Craig LeSchack said. "Both in Tennessee and on the breeding grounds where most of Tennessee's waterfowl are hatched each year, the agency has focused its efforts and support on improving habitat for waterfowl and opportunity for hunters."
Last October, nine commissioners, TWRA Director Ed Carter, and two TWRA staff members paid their own way to Saskatchewan to tour conservation projects implemented by Ducks Unlimited Canada and supported by Tennessee's participation in the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' (AFWA) state contributions to Canada program.
"The commissioners were so impressed with the habitat work that they voted in January to increase the Agency contribution to fully fund the goal established individually for our state," said TWRA Director Ed Carter.
"State goals are based on scientifically collected data indicating the number of waterfowl in Tennessee which originate in the Canadian provinces and we are pleased to contribute to their critical nesting habitat."
The state now contributes $166,000 to the program, yielding tremendous dividends for Tennessee's waterfowl hunters and shorebird enthusiasts.
"Following the science that tells us our waterfowl are predominantly hatched in eastern Canada, we wanted to make our investment in habitat conservation there," Mr. Carter said.
The AFWA program, which helps fund the North American Waterfowl Management Plan habitat projects in Canada, started in 1991 and is one of the primary international public/private partnerships to support migratory bird conservation. State contributions are funded primarily by hunting license sales, though some states include other funding sources. Through this program, states help fund long-term partnerships that conserve and restore breeding habitat for waterfowl that migrate through, and winter in, their own states.
"The importance of the state's contributions to Canadian habitat conservation and restoration projects cannot be overstated," said Pat Kehoe, DU Canada's director of international partnerships. "Ducks Unlimited's programs in the United States and Canada are consistent with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and our prairie programs are structured to protect native, highly productive habitat while also improving waterfowl production in working agricultural landscapes."
As with all states that contribute to the program through Ducks Unlimited, TWRA's contribution will be matched by DU and leveraged through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, resulting in at least $664,000 a year for conservation projects from the state's $166,000 annual commitment.
"We are very pleased to see TWRA elevate their commitment to waterfowl habitat conservation," Mr. LeSchack said. "In addition to waterfowl, these wetland and grassland habitats support diverse wildlife and have significant impacts on people in the area by cleaning water, recharging groundwater sources, and absorbing flood waters."