Waterfowl Habitat Grows
More than 9,000 acres of waterfowl habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System were among the proposals approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, which okayed $28 million in funding to conserve, restore and enhance vital wetlands.
“Conserving wetlands is one of most important things we can do to ensure our land and wildlife remain healthy,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who attended her first meeting in her role as chair of the commission.
The commission approved close to $4 million in projects for land purchases and leases on three refuges with funds raised largely through the sale of Federal Duck Stamps. In addition, the panel approved $23.7 million in grants through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act to protect, restore or enhance nearly 89,000 acres of habitat for migratory birds in the United States and Canada, leveraging $28.5 million in matching funds.
The three refuge projects are:
• Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Approval to acquire 81 fee acres of quality waterfowl habitat in the river floodplain for $44,700. These bottomland hardwoods and associated wetlands benefit a wide variety of waterfowl, including mallard, wood and mottled ducks.
• Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana. Price approval and approval for a boundary addition on 489 lease acres for $1,750.The commission also supported a price re-approval of $22,350 on leased land that it previously approved in September 2012. Since then, the state of Montana reassessed the lease value, which increased by 102 percent. The new price is now locked in for five years. The refuge and the wider land area support high breeding densities of lesser scaup and trumpeter swans.
• Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana. Approval to acquire more than 3,200 acres in fee title for $3.76 million will almost complete the current footprint of this refuge. The refuge provides high quality habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl.
The commission had previously approved funding for the 2013 U.S. Small Grants Program. Forty-six grants were selected under the program, totaling $3 million and leveraging $7.6 million to conserve 52,145 acres of wetland and associated habitats in 29 states from coast to coast.
Among the projects funded through the U.S. Small Grants Program was Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District, MN, which will restore and enhance 24,748 acres to increase nesting cover for migratory waterfowl.
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