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House passes North American Wetlands Conservation Act
Legislation authorizes $375 million for conservation program over 5 years

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives today passed H.R. 5539, which reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).

NAWCA, first enacted in 1989, has become one of the most popular and effective conservation programs. Since the first wetland grant was awarded 15 years ago, more than 1,500 conservation projects have been funded involving more than 3,200 partners. As a result, more than 23 million acres of wetlands and associated habitat has been protected, restored or enhanced in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

"Wetlands are critical to the health of our environment, thousands of wild species and human safety," Resources Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.) said. "The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina reminded us of the importance of wetlands, which act as horizontal levees that protect American communities, private property and families from the unpredictable whims of nature."

Wetlands are among the world's most productive environments. Without these wetlands and coastal barriers, the impact of last year's hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico would have been far worse in terms of human life, wildlife habitat and the destruction of private property. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, for every 2.7 miles a hurricane travels across marshes and wetlands, the storm surge is reduced by one foot.

The NAWCA program is incredibly successful. In California alone, 71 projects have been approved over the past 15 years, contributing to the conservation of nearly 500,000 acres of land and $236 million to wetlands protection.

"It is my hope that the U.S. Senate will also quickly approve this legislation in order to provide an opportunity for the President to sign this important conservation measure into law before the end of the year," Chairman Pombo added.

H.R. 5539 is supported by: American Fisheries Society; American Rivers; American Sportfishing Association; Archery Trade Association; Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Bear Trust International; Boone and Crockett Club; Bowhunting Preservation Alliance; California Outdoor Heritage Alliance; California Waterfowl Association; Campfire Club of America; Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation; Conservation Force, Dallas Safari Club; Ducks Unlimited; Izaak Walton League of America; National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses; National Marine Manufactures Association; National Rifle Association; National Shooting Sports Foundation; National Wild Turkey Federation; North American Bear Foundation; North American Grouse Partnership; Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association; Pheasants Forever; Pope and Young Club; Quail Forever; Quality Deer Management Association; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Ruffed Grouse Society; Safari Club International; Sand County Foundation; Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; Texas Wildlife Association; The Trust for Public Land; Trout Unlimited; United States Sportsmen's Alliance; Whitetails Unlimited; Wildlife Forever; Wildlife Habitat Council; The Nature Conservancy; and the Wildlife Management Institute.


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