The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission today approved $33.2 million in funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to purchase, lease or otherwise conserve more than 81,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds across the United States.
“The first Migratory Bird Treaty was signed 100 years ago as part of our commitment to protect and conserve North America’s treasured migratory bird species,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The funding approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is evidence that this commitment endures today as strongly as ever.”
Of the total funds approved by the commission, $21.5 million will be provided through North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants to conserve more than 68,000 acres of wetlands and adjoining areas in 19 states. NAWCA is the only federal grant program dedicated to the conservation of wetland habitats for migratory birds. For a complete list of projects funded, see http://www.fws.gov/birds/grants/north-american-wetland-conservation-act.php
To date, NAWCA funds have advanced conservation of 33.5 million acres of wetland habitats and their wildlife in all 50 states and Canada, engaging more than 5,600 partners in more than 2,600 projects. NAWCA grants are funded through federal appropriations as well as fines, penalties and forfeitures collected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; from federal fuel excise taxes on small gasoline engines, as directed by the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act; and from interest accrued on Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act funds. Grants made through this program require matching investments. The projects approved today will leverage an additional $51.7 million in matching funds.
The commission also approved expenditure of $11.7 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve more than 13,000 additional acres at four national wildlife refuges – McFaddin in Texas, Felsenthal in Arkansas, Lower Hatchie in Tennessee and Turnbull in Washington. The funds were raised largely through the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps (Duck Stamps), which help provide habitat for wildlife and increased opportunities for refuge visitors who hunt, bird-watch, photograph and view wildlife.
“The sale of Duck Stamps continues to play a pivotal role in conserving our nation’s wildlife,” said Ashe. “Although required by waterfowl hunters as an annual license, these stamps are also voluntarily purchased by birders, outdoor enthusiasts and fans of the National Wildlife Refuge System who understand the value of preserving some of the most diverse and important wildlife habitats in our nation. The money generated through Duck Stamp sales has been essential in helping maintain and grow this irreplaceable network that also provides all Americans with opportunities to get outside and experience nature.”
For every dollar spent on federal Duck Stamps, 98 cents goes toward the acquisition or lease of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since 1934, the Federal Duck Stamp Program and Migratory Bird Conservation Fund have provided more than $800 million to acquire more than 5.7 million acres for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
An additional 52 small grants worth $3.7 million were awarded earlier in the year by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council. The commission created its Small Grants Program in 1996 to encourage new grantees and partners to carry out smaller-scale wetlands conservation projects that may otherwise not be able to compete in the U.S. Standard Grants Program. In June 2016, the Commission approved an annual $5 million spending limit for small grants, to be awarded at the discretion of the council.
The commission is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior. Its members include U.S. Senators Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico; Representatives Robert J. Wittman of Virginia and Mike Thompson of California; U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; and Gina McCarthy, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency.
The first Migratory Bird Treaty was signed 100 years ago to protect and conserve North America’s migratory bird species. For more information about the Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial, please visit https://www.fws.gov/birds/MBTreaty100/index.php