Interior Provides $26 Million for Wetlands Grants

The Department of the Interior's Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved more than $26 million in funding to protect and restore more than 135,000 acres of U.S. wetland areas and wildlife habitats under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), accord to a Sept. 15 press release.

The commission also approved $4.1 million in funding to add more than 4,400 other wetland acres to seven national wildlife refuges.

The grants will support 27 projects in 20 states. The grants were awarded under NAWCA's U.S. Standard Grants Program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior. Partners in these projects will contribute an additional $86 million in matching funds to help support these conservation efforts.

The grants are funded by annual Congressional appropriations; fines, penalties and forfeitures levied under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; interest accrued on funds under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, and excise taxes paid on small engine fuels through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Fund.

Three NAWCA projects funded by the commission will be carried out on Fish and Wildlife Service Wetlands Management Districts in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Upper Midwest. These projects, two in Montana and one in Minnesota, highlight the strong connection between NAWCA and the Service's Small Wetlands Program, which uses Federal Duck Stamp dollars to acquire wetlands and uplands to be managed as part of the system of Wetland Management Districts scattered throughout the Midwest. The Small Wetlands Program is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, capping a successful half-century of wetland conservation.

Among the wetlands that will be acquired in national wildlife refuges are 2,027 acres for the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in St. Bernard and Orleans Parishes, La. By permanently protecting these coastal wetlands, this addition will conserve critical marsh habitat for migratory waterfowl species including gadwall, northern pintail, and mallard in addition to providing storm surge protection to inland areas.

The commission's approval also secured funding to add feeding, breeding, and resting habitat to ther national wildlife refuges, including

• Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgetown, Marion and Horry Counties, S.C.

• Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, Seneca County, New York.

• Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty County, Texas.

• Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, Jackson, Prairie, Woodruff and Monroe Counties, Ark.

• Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Wapato Lake Unit, Washington and Yamhill Counties, Ore.

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