Funding for wetlands, refuges announced

Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced that the Migratory Bird
Conservation Commission approved nearly $18 million for habitat
conservation in the United States and Canada to benefit migratory birds. At
the same time, the Commission also approved the acquisition of more than
600 acres of important migratory bird habitat to be added to the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge System.

The approved funds will be used to provide grants to states and other
partners through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) to
meet important habitat goals for migratory birds. The Commission also
allocated revenue from the sale of Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation
Stamps, commonly called Duck Stamps, to purchase key tracts of land in
three states for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

"NAWCA represents exactly the kind of partner-driven conservation efforts
that are conserving and improving wildlife habitat across the entire North
American continent," said Secretary Norton, who chairs the Commission.
"Thanks to the dedication of the citizen conservationists who make NAWCA
work on the ground, we are turning the tide and working to reach President
Bush's goal of a net increase of wetlands across the U.S."

Working with partners to conserve wetlands

The NAWCA Standard Grants funded four U.S. projects in five States totaling
more than $3 million to protect, restore or enhance 5,446 acres of wetlands
and associated upland habitats. Project partners added nearly $32 million.

NAWCA awardees are:

Arizona: A partnership lead by Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area will
receive nearly $500,000 and put up more than $3 to conserve wetlands along
the lower Colorado River.

California: A partnership lead by the Wildlife Conservation Board will
receive nearly $1 million and put up nearly $13 million to conserve
wetlands in San Pablo Bay.

Idaho/Wyoming: A partnership lead by the Teton Regional Land Trust, Inc.,
will receive $1 million and put up in match nearly $14 million to conserve
wetlands in the Teton River Basin.

Washington: A partnership lead by Ducks Unlimited, Inc., will receive $1
million and put up $2.2 million to conserve wetlands in the San Juan

Since 1991, some 2,800 partners have been involved in more than 1,400
NAWCA-supported projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Partners
must at least match the grant request dollar for dollar. Canadian and U.S.
partners focus on long-term protection, restoration, or enhancement of
critical habitats; Mexican partners also may develop training, management,
and environmental education programs and conduct studies on sustainable
use. In total, more than $658 million in NAWCA grants have been awarded in
the three countries, including $2 billion in private contributions for
wetlands and association uplands conservation projects covering almost 14
million acres throughout the continent.

The Commission also approved more than $14 million for 14 projects in
Canada. Partners added nearly $30 million to achieve their conservation
goals. In addition, based on the results of 38 grants under the "small
grants" program, the Commission approved an additional $2 million in
allocations for the small grant program for 2006.

"Since many of North America's waterfowl species we enjoy in the U.S.
during the spring and fall depend on Canadian wetland habitat during the
summer months, it is also appropriate to use NAWCA funds to support
wetlands conservation projects in Canada," said Norton.

Funding for this program comes from Congressional appropriations, funds
collected from fines, penalties, and forfeitures under the Migratory Bird
Treaty Act, interest accrued to the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration
Act, and from excise taxes paid on small engine fuels through the
Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act.

Duck Stamps for National Wildlife Refuges

Money raised by the sale of Federal Duck Stamps pays for wetland
acquisitions for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since the first Duck
Stamp sale in 1934, more than $700 million has been raised to help purchase
in excess of five million acres of wetlands for the refuge system. Today,
the Commission approved nearly a million dollars in Federal Duck Stamp
funds to acquire land for the National Wildlife Refuge System. All
acquisitions were previously approved by the affected states.

New National Wildlife Refuge System acquisitions are:

Arkansas: Addition of nearly 10,000 acres to the Refuge boundary at Cache
River National Wildlife Refuge in Tucker County. The Service plans on
purchasing an estimated 980 acres this summer to conserve bottomland
hardwood habitat for migratory waterfowl.

Virginia: Acquisition of a 355- acre easement to protect wetland habitat
for waterfowl near Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge in
Richmond County. The tract will become part of the Refuge.

Texas: Acquisition of 330 acres to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl
near Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Liberty County. The tract
will become part of the Refuge.

New Jersey: Acquisition of 19.1 acres to preserve Spartina salt marsh for
migrating waterfowl within the boundaries of Cape May National Wildlife
Refuge in Cape May County.

Tennessee: Acquisition of 56 acres to protect habitat for wintering
waterfowl within the boundaries of Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge in
Lauderdale County.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929 established the Migratory Bird
Conservation Commission to approve land to be purchased for the National
Wildlife Refuge System with monies from the Migratory Bird Conservation
Fund. The fund is supported by revenue collected from Federal Duck Stamp
sales, import duties collected on arms and ammunition, right-of-way
payments to the refuge system, and receipts from national wildlife refuge
entry fees. For more information about the Federal Duck Stamp program
please visit . The balance of property was
purchased with money from the Congressionally apportioned Land and Water
Conservation Fund.

The Commission meets three times a year to approve funding proposals.
Permanent Commission members are Interior Secretary Norton, Senators Thad
Cochran and Blanche Lincoln; Representatives John Dingell and Curt Weldon;
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns; and EPA Administrator Stephen L.

For more information on NAWCA and to see summaries of funded projects,
please see http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/NAWCA/grants.htm.