Sportsmen and women have yet another reason to celebrate as Secretary of the Interior (SOI) Ryan Zinke’s efforts toward protecting our wildlife resources continue to support the hunters and anglers who maintain them. On Sept. 7, the Migratory Bird Conservation Committee, chaired by Zinke, approved $21.9 million in grants for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and its partners to fund wetland conservation projects, with an additional $5.4 million approved to conserve 2,259 acres on six national wildlife refuges. The grants were made through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and will be matched by more than $45 million in partner funds.
“I grew up hunting and fishing and know first-hand how important the outdoors is for our own health, the health of our communities and the health of our economy,” said Secretary Zinke in an official DOI press release. “The projects approved by the commission will benefit hundreds of wetland and coastal bird species, other wildlife and their habitats, ensuring we have the ability to pass our shared heritage down to our kids and grandkids.”
The NAWCA grants ensure the conservation of waterfowl, other bird populations and wetland habitat while supporting hunting, fishing, birdwatching, family farming and cattle ranching. Projects set for next year include:
Prairie Lakes IX Wetland Initiative: $1 million with more than 25 partners helping to conserve more than 2,000 acres of habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of Iowa through protection, restoration and enhancement activities. All acres will be open to hunting and other recreation.
Russel Sage WMA Kennedy Tract Enhancement: $999,939 to conserve and enhance 2,672 acres of forested wetlands and marsh in Mississippi and Louisiana, part of a region which hosts 60 percent of bird species in the continental United States. Activities include an enhancement project on an active rice farm.
Wetlands of the Sacramento Valley II: $1 million to restore and enhance 2,314 acres of critical wintering waterfowl habitat in California. Partners include several ranches, sporting clubs, conservation organizations and a state agency.
More than $5.4 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund was also approved by the commission to conserve 2,259 acres on six national wildlife refuges. Raised largely through the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as “Duck Stamps,” the funds’ approvals will improve refuge management capacity, opening thousands of acres to public waterfowl hunting for the first time.
“Hunting and fishing underpin the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, founded on principles of sustainable use and access for all,” said Secretary Zinke. “Sportsmen and women continue to be the engine behind the nation’s wildlife conservation efforts, as demonstrated by these Duck Stamp funds. The Duck Stamp puts hunting revenues back into public lands to improve access and enhance outdoor opportunities not just for millions of sportsmen and women, but for all Americans who spend time outdoors.”
The following national wildlife refuge proposals were approved for funding