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Major wetlands conservation act passes markup

Bill would authorize $375 million for NAWCA over 5 years, July 19, 2006

Washington - An effort to reauthorize one of the country's most popular and effective conservation programs took a major step forward today in the House Resources Committee.

The committee approved H.R. 5539, which reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), by unanimous consent. The bill, authored by Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.) has the backing of more than 40 non-profit groups with a strong interest in the vitality of America's fish and wildlife.

NAWCA, first enacted in 1989, has funded more than 1,500 conservation projects 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 vital habitat for countless species and also protect human life," Chairman Pombo said. "I'm proud to lead the effort to reauthorize this worthy program."

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.

In California alone, 71 NAWCA projects have been approved since 1991, which have conserved nearly 500,000 acres of land and dedicated $236 million to wetlands protection. NAWCA has enjoyed similar success throughout the country.

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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