National leaders pass international Wetlands Conservation Bill

Nov. 18, 2002
Ducks Unlimited on Friday praised the last-minute Congressional passage of a bill which would keep a wetlands conservation program from expiring.


MEMPHIS, Tenn., Nov. 18, 2002 -- Ducks Unlimited on Friday praised the last-minute Congressional passage of a bill which would keep a wetlands conservation program from expiring.

The organization issued the following statement:

In a last minute, bi-partisan agreement, House and Senate leaders worked with the White House to keep one of the most valuable programs for wetlands conservation from expiring in the midst of the adjournment of the 107th Congress.

These leaders worked tirelessly through the night to reach a deal ensuring the conservation of thousands of acres of wetlands with the passage of HR 3908, which reauthorized the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). This was one of the last acts of the 107th Congress and it was the final substantive measure approved in the House of Representatives. The bill was passed at 3:03 a.m. Friday morning, just two minutes before the House of Representatives adjourned at 3:05 a.m.

While the bill was before Congress, the President signaled strong support for NAWCA and helped generate momentum behind the bill in the Senate and House. Within Congress, key supporters include Congressman Jim Hansen (UT), the author of HR 3908, as well as Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (SD), Republican Leader Trent Lott (MS), Senators John Breaux (LA), Thad Cochran (MS), Mike Crapo (ID), Jim Jeffords (VT), and Bob Smith (NH) as well as Congressmen John Dingell (MI), Dick Armey (TX), Tom DeLay (TX), Mike Thompson (CA) and Nick Rahall (WV). And, thousands of Ducks Unlimited supporters participated in a write-in campaign, thanks to a web site feature on DU's homepage.

Once obstacles were cleared, and with active support from the Senate leadership, the Senate passed the bill under unanimous consent. Thanks to the House leadership, the bill was then expedited and passed with no opposition by the full House. "While many bills are languishing in Congress, this bill generated strong support and goodwill from both parties," said Scott Sutherland, who directs Ducks Unlimited's Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C. "NAWCA is one of the most important programs for wildlife and wetlands conservation. Without it, the continental success that NAWCA has fostered would grind to a halt," added Sutherland.

NAWCA provides challenge grants for wetlands conservation projects in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Through the Act, groups like Ducks Unlimited match every $1 of federal money with at least $1 or more from non-federal sources. This result of this partnering provides twice as many dollars for projects, with some projects generating three or four fold increases.

Already, NAWCA has helped fund more than 960 wetland conservation projects in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. "The end result of all these projects is the conservation of more than 8.7 million acres of critical wildlife habitat," said Scott Sutherland. NAWCA projects also restore wetlands that have been altered, enhance water quality, and reduce soil erosion.

For more information, visit www.ducks.org.
With more than one million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's leading wetland and waterfowl conservation group. Wetlands are nature's most productive ecosystems, but the United States has lost more than half of its original wetlands, and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres every year.

Source: Ducks Unlimited

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