On Apr. 26, the U.S. Department of the Interior issued a press release announcing that the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved $17.8 million in grants under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) for the protection, conservation, and restoration of over 108,000 acres of wetlands and upland bird habitat in 14 states, and an additional $21 million for conservation projects in Canada and Mexico. Almost $40 million in additional partner funds will match the approved grants.
In the U.S., the funds will be issued to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partner agencies and organizations to carry out protection and enhancement projects to benefit wetland ecosystems, waterfowl, and other migratory birds. Some projects will also increase public access to hunting, fishing, and other recreational opportunities.
With the announcement, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stated, “Hunting and fishing are the cornerstones of Americans’ sportsmen heritage, and today, sportsmen and women are leading efforts in wildlife conservation. The projects approved today by the commission will benefit hundreds of wetland and coastal bird species, other wildlife, and their habitats, ensuring we have the ability to pass our shared heritage down to our kids and grandkids.”
An additional $7.8 million was approved from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund for waterfowl conservation projects on four national wildlife refuges: Dale Bumpers White River and Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuges in Arkansas; Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland; and Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. The majority of these funds were raised through sales of the Federal Duck Stamp.
NAWCA receives funds from a variety of sources including annual appropriations from Congress. NAWCA funding authorization, however, lapsed following the FY 2012 appropriations cycle. Though NAWCA still receives annual funds from Congress, it has become the subject of recent reauthorization efforts. On Mar. 22, The Wildlife Society signed onto a letter addressed to leaders of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the House Committee on Natural Resources highlighting the Act’s environmental and economic benefits and urging for its reauthorization for FY 2018 appropriations. On Mar. 30, six former USFWS directors sent a letter in support of reauthorization to the same committees.