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 Bush Administration asks Congress to Fully Fund the Wetland Reserve Program
NEWS RELEASE: Ducks Unlimited Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office 2/10/06

 250,000 acres for USDAís #1 Wetlands Program

Ann Arbor, MI - February 10, 2006 - Agriculture Secretary Michael Johanns announced today that the Bush Administrationís 2007 budget request to Congress requests full funding for the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). The popularity and demand for the wetlands conservation program among landowners was the reason given for the full funding request.

Full funding of WRP would allow for enrollment of 250,000 acres in 2007, the full yearly-authorized amount in the Farm Bill. WRP is the key component in meeting the presidentís promise to create, improve and protect at least 3 million wetland acres over a five-year period that ends in 2009. A large portion of these acres will greatly benefit Americaís waterfowl.

"Ducks Unlimited applauds the Administrationís decision to increase the WRP acreage funding request to Congress," said DU Executive Vice President Don Young. "This will certainly help waterfowl populations, as well as other wildlife. This increase in WRP acres is greatly needed, because the demand for this program is so strong among landowners. Itís also great for working farms and ranches, because it allows farmers to farm the best and conserve the rest."

The Wetlands Reserve Program is a voluntary program that provides technical and financial assistance to eligible landowners to restore, enhance and protect wetlands. Landowners can enroll eligible lands through permanent easements, 30-year easements or restoration cost-share agreements. This low-cost program allows landowners the opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife habitat enhancement practices and protection on marginal flood-prone land.

"WRP is a tremendous asset to the Great Lakes, Illinois River Valley and the Chesapeake Bay, improving waterfowl habitat while performing vital water quality functions," said Bob Hoffman, director of DUís Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office.

"Farmersí and agricultural producersí demand has exceeded available funds the past few years, and this announcement by the President will hopefully help meet agricultural demands, and everyone gains," added Hoffman.

DU has played a lead role in Washington, D.C working with the Administration and Congress to make sure that the conservation provisions of the Farm Bill like WRP are carried out.

"We urge people who are concerned with protecting the great lakes and atlantic coastal wetlands to contact their Congressional Representatives and ask them to support the Administrationís budget request for funding WRP," added Gildo Tori, director of public policy at DUís Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office.

You can contact your house representative by going to www.house.gov and click on "Write Your Representative." You can find contact information for your state senator by going to www.senate.gov and click on "SENATORS."

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the worldís largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands − natureís most productive ecosystem − and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres each year.





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