Bird commission approves funding for wetland projects

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved over $29 million in federal funding for the protection and management of nearly 190,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitats in the U.S. under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). The Commission also approved nearly $3 million under NAWCA to enhance wetland and waterfowl management in Mexico and more than $4.2 million for the purchase of 2,213 acres of wetlands for inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System...

March 11, 2008 -- The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved more than $29 million in federal funding for the protection and management of nearly 190,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitats in the U.S. that will benefit ducks and waterfowl nationwide under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). The Commission, composed of members of Congress and federal cabinet secretaries, and chaired by Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, also approved nearly $3 million under NAWCA to enhance wetland and waterfowl management in Mexico and more than $4.2 million for the purchase of 2,213 acres of wetlands for inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

"The work of the Commission continues to provide vital support for wetlands and waterfowl conservation across North America," said Secretary Kempthorne. "The President has charged the Department of the Interior to bring more of America's bird species into a healthy and sustainable status. The North American Wetlands Conservation Act and other work presided over by the Commission complements and strengthens other Interior efforts, such as the Birds Forever Initiative, better enabling us to secure habitat and ensure a promising future for our nation's birds."

The more than $2.9 million approved for NAWCA's Mexico Grants Program will support 15 conservation projects in 11 Mexican states. Combined with almost $4 million in partner contributions, these projects will help to secure, enhance, and manage migratory bird habitat across Mexico, from Vera Cruz in the southeast to Baja California in the northwest.

The Commission's approval of more than $29.6 million will support 31 projects in 21 states under NAWCA's U.S. Standard Grants Program. Partners in these projects will contribute an additional $119.6 million in funds to help these conservation effects. The grants are funded by annual Congressional appropriations; fines, penalties and forfeitures levied under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; interest accrued on funds under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act; and excise taxes paid on small engine fuels through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Fund.

The Commission's approval of refuge acquisitions secured resting and feeding habitat that will be added to four National Wildlife Refuges located in five states. In addition, the Commission approved the acquisition of a permanent easement for the Grasslands Wildlife Management Area in California. The fund receives revenue from Duck Stamp sales, import duties on firearms and ammunition, and rights-of-way payments to the refuge system.

Additional information about the Act can be found on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Website at http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NAWCA/index.shtm.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

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