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Questions about this news release should be directed to the contact listed below For Release on September 14, 2011 Contact: Kim Betton, (703) 358-2081, Kim_betton@fws.gov  Rachel Levin, (703) 358-2405, Rachel_levin@fws.gov 

Interior Secretary Announces more than $20 Million for Wetlands Grants for Migratory Birds, More than $9 Million for Wildlife Refuge Acquisitions

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (Commission) today approved spending more than $9 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to protect an estimated
5,550 acres of waterfowl habitat on five units of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Commission also approved $20.7 million in federal funding for grants to conserve nearly 100,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitats in 16 states through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).

The NAWCA Standard Grants awarded today will support 21 projects benefitting ducks, geese, and other migratory birds from Maine to California. Partners will contribute nearly $52 million in non-federal matching dollars toward these projects.

“Partnerships are increasingly crucial to successful wetlands conservation efforts in a changing world,” said Salazar, who chairs the Commission. “From the public-private partnerships supported by NAWCA grants to the close relationships our national wildlife refuges have with their surrounding communities, we depend on our partners to help us succeed in conservation.”

Passed in 1989, NAWCA provides matching grants to organizations and individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Act was passed in part to support activities under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, an international agreement that provides a strategy for the long-term protection of wetlands and associated upland habitats needed by waterfowl and other migratory birds in North America. NAWCA 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.

Examples of NAWCA Standard Grant projects approved today include:

Texas: Wetlands Restoration and Enhancement of Private and Public Lands, Texas Gulf Coast IX Grantee: Ducks Unlimited, Inc. This project continues ongoing efforts of private landowners, state and federal agencies, and non-government organizations to support wetlands conservation on the Texas Gulf Coast. Through this project, partners will restore and enhance more than 8,600 acres of wetlands and uplands on public and private lands. Restored lands will provide breeding habitat for mottled ducks, black-bellied and fulvous whistling ducks, as well as providing wintering/migration habitat for other waterfowl and landbird species.

South Carolina: ACE Basin: Edisto River Corridor Phase VI Grantee: National Audubon Society This initiative aims to create the largest forested wetland preserve possible at the Audubon Center and Sanctuary at the Francis Beidler Forest in southeastern South Carolina, and to add substantively to the matrix of protected lands within the Ashepoo, Combahee and South Edisto (ACE) Basin. The forested wetlands to be protected are a high priority for conservation of species such as the American black duck, mallard, wood duck, swallow-tailed kite and wood stork.

California: North Sacramento Valley Wetland Habitat Project, Phase V Grantee: California Waterfowl Association

This project covers an area that has been described as the most important wintering area for waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway. Using grant and matching funds, partners will help to re-establish priority habitats and increase resources for wetland-dependent species by protecting and restoring a total of more than 1,000 wetland and upland acres. Partners will also enhance more than 4,700 acres to help increase the water supply and allow for intensified habitat management capabilities. All of these activities will benefit migrating, wintering and breeding waterbirds.

More information about the approved NAWCA grant programs and projects will be available on the Web at: http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NAWCA/Standard/US/2011_Sept.shtm.

The Commission also approved the purchase of wetland habitat that will be added to five 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.

Of particular note is the Commission’s approval to establish the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area in South Dakota. By approving funding for the
2,794 acres of wetland and grassland easements, the Commission opened the door for establishment of the newest addition to the National Wildlife Refuge System. The refuge will be established when the Service actually acquires the first easement.

Other acquisitions include:

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Box Elder County, Utah The Commission approved the acquisition of 1,841 acres in fee for a price of $5,500,000.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham and Effingham Counties, Georgia The Commission approved the acquisition of 627 acres in fee for a price of $2,035,000.

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge – Wapato Lake Unit, in Washington and Yamhill Counties, Oregon The Commission approved the acquisition of 27.5 acres in fee for a price of $130,000.

Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge in Bolivar County, Mississippi The Commission approved the price re-approval for renewing a lease on 260 acres for a price of $ 9,100.

Also at this meeting, the Commission recognized Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi for his 30 years of service as a Commission member. He received a framed Federal Duck Stamp print featuring the 2011-2012 Federal Duck Stamp artwork of Jim Hautman and his portrayal of a standing pair of White-fronted Geese.

For every dollar spent on Federal Duck Stamps, ninety-eight cents goes directly to purchase vital habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission oversees the use of Federal Duck Stamp funds for the purchase and lease of these wetland habitats for national wildlife refuges. To date, more than 5.3 million acres of wetlands have been purchased using more than $750 million in Duck Stamp revenue.

This year’s Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest – the nation’s only federally sponsored annual art competition – will be held October 28 and 29 at the Service’s National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, W. Va. Eligible species for this year’s Duck Stamp Contest are the mallard, wood duck, gadwall, cinnamon teal and blue-winged teal. The winning art will be made into the 2012-2013 Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $15 to hunters, stamp collectors, conservationists and art lovers.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission includes Senators Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mark Pryor of Arkansas; Representatives John Dingell of Michigan and Robert Wittman of Virginia; Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson; and state representatives serving as ex-officio members who vote on projects located within their respective states.

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. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq. To unsubscribe from this list, send an e-mail message to: R1allnews-request@lists.fws.gov. Type unsubscribe in the subject field of the e-mail.

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