Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Commentary: Wetlands gets a major boost from federal legislation

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act – one of Ducks Unlimited’s highest-priority programs – received record funding at $50 million. (Photo by Brody Boese)

Ducks Unlimited Report

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Dec. 23 passed legislation to fund the federal government, including funding for several critical conservation programs. Most notably, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act – one of Ducks Unlimited’s highest-priority programs – received record funding at $50 million.

“Record funding for NAWCA is a home run for the nation’s most successful wetlands conservation program,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “DU and our partners have worked with this Congress from start to finish to ensure critical conservation programs such as NAWCA remained a priority, and this funding reflects that. We appreciate our legislator friends from both parties who recognize the immense value of conservation, and we look forward to transitioning these dollars to the landscape for the benefit of wildlife, people, and our environment.”

NAWCA is a voluntary matching-grant program that leverages non-federal and federal funds for wetland restoration. Since enactment in 1989, NAWCA has conserved more than 30 million acres and created an average of 7,500 new jobs annually. Every dollar spent by the federal government, on average, receives a $3 match from program partners such as Ducks Unlimited.

Further demonstrating the effectiveness of investments made by wetlands programs like NAWCA, the recent State of the Birds report revealed widespread losses of birds in all habitats – except wetlands.

The legislation also includes the Charitable Conservation Easement Integrity Act, which stops the abuse of syndicated conservation easements and reserves deductions for true charitable conservation purposes.

Also included were important policy provisions from the Growing Climate Solutions Act and the Sponsoring USDA Sustainability Targets in Agriculture to Incentivize Natural Solutions Act.

Notable conservation programs to receive funding:

• North American Wetlands Conservation Act – $50 million.

• Partners for Fish and Wildlife – $60.2 million.

• Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – $368 million.

• Delaware River Basin Conservation Act – $11.5 million.

• Chesapeake Bay Program – $92 million.

• Chesapeake WILD Program – $8 million.

• North American Waterfowl Management Plan/Joint Venture Programs – $16.8 million.

• National Wildlife Refuge System – $541.5 million.

• State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Programs – $73.8 million.

• Assistance to rice producers – $250 million.

• NRCS conservation operations – $941.1 million.

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