Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said recently the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved a total of $35.7 million for refuge acquisitions and wetlands grants for migratory birds – $30.4 million in federal funding for grants to conserve more than 6.1 million acres of wetlands and associated habitats in the United States and Canada under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and $5.3 million in Federal Duck Stamp funds to add more than 1,849 wetland acres to six units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
“Besides providing habitat for fish, wildlife and plants, our nation’s wetlands provide vital storm protection for coastal areas, hold and slowly release flood waters, act as filters to cleanse water of impurities and provide recreation and wildlife viewing opportunities for millions of people,” said Salazar, who chairs the Commission.
The Commission includes Senators Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Representatives John Dingell of Michigan and Robert Wittman of Virginia, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, as well as state representatives serving as ex officio members who vote on projects located within their respective states.
Nearly $25.4 million in NAWCA Standard Grants will support five Canadian projects that will benefit ducks, geese and other migratory birds on more than 6.1 million acres in 12 provinces and territories. Partners will contribute more than $47 million toward these projects.
Also approved was nearly $2 million in Standard Grants for two projects in California and Wisconsin that will acquire, restore and enhance 2,833 acres. Partners will contribute a total of more than $4 million for these two projects.
The Commission also heard a report about 43 projects that were previously approved for funding by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council under the NAWCA U.S. Small Grants Program. Partners will contribute more than $7.7 million toward these projects, which will benefit 14,776 acres of wetlands and associated habitats in 24 states from Maine to California. The Commission authorized up to $5 million to fund projects under the Small Grants program in each of the next three years.
The Commission approved the purchase of wetland habitat that will be added to six units of the National Wildlife Refuge System to secure breeding, resting and feeding habitat. These acquisitions are funded with proceeds from sales of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, otherwise known as the Federal Duck Stamp. These acquisitions include:
Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, Jackson, Prairie, Woodruff and Monroe Counties, Arkansas – Acquire and restore 180 of bottomland wetlands that will allow the Service to provide a block of contiguous seasonally-flooded forestland managed for waterfowl and other migratory birds.
Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Sacramento County, California – Protect 110 acres of the last remaining riparian habitat along South Stone Lake, as well as associated wetlands and uplands. The Service will manage the shortgrass and wetland areas to provide quality habitat for wintering, migrating and breeding waterfowl.
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, Ocean County, New Jersey – Protect 243 acres of wetlands and upland fringes, the last natural open space on the northern portion of Barnegat Bay. The area provides essential migratory habitat for waterfowl and passerine birds species, as well as several state-listed endangered and threatened bird species.
Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, Coos County, New Hampshire – Protect 162 acres of northern forest wetland and nesting habitat for several species of waterfowl such as the American black duck, wood duck, mallard, hooded merganser, blue-winged teal and ring-necked duck.
Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge, Lauderdale and Tipton counties, Tennessee
– Protect 866 acres that support large concentrations of wintering waterfowl such as mallards and northern pintails and provides stopover habitat for several species of migrating shorebirds.
San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, Brazoria County, Texas
– Acquire 288 acres for protection of a wetland complex that provides winter, migration and resident habitat for waterfowl, wading birds and neotropical migratory birds.