Department of Interior Announces Nearly $80 Million in Grants for Wetlands and Wildlife Refuges

On April 21st, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced that $78 million in grants has been approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. Grant funds will be made available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners will have the capability to conserve or restore nearly 500,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats across North America.

Established in 1929 under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the Commission was created and authorized to review and approve for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchase or rental, any lands and waters recommended to be considered and approve any areas of land and/or water recommended by the Secretary of the Interior. The Commission has helped in conserving much of this nation’s most important waterfowl habitat and establish or enhance many of the country’s most popular waterfowl hunting and birding destinations.

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The grants will be made through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and will be matched by nearly $125 million in partner funds. The NAWCA is the only federal grant program dedicated to the conservation of wetland habitats for migratory birds. Since 1989, funding conserved wetland and associated wildlife in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico, engaging more than 6,500 partners in over 3,100 projects.

A complete list of projects approved for NAWCA grants can be found here.

The Commission also approved $1.8 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve 2,052 acres across three national wildlife refuges for public use and hunt programs. These funds were generated primarily from federal Duck Stamps sales, and duties on imported arms and ammunition.

Duck Stamp funds are slated to purchase waterfowl habitat for the following national wildlife refuges.

  • Currituck National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina – $525,000 to acquire 70 acres of wetlands and surrounding uplands.
  • Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey – $94,000 to acquire 171 acres of tidal and freshwater marsh that will provide habitat for thousands of wintering waterfowl, shorebirds and colonial-nesting wading birds.
  • Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge in Maine – $1,267,700 to acquire 1,811 acres of wetlands and surrounding uplands that will provide waterfowl nesting habitat and secure public access to 5,000 acres of adjoining refuge lands.

Additionally, these funds stand benefit far more than waterfowl hunters and birders as wetlands serve as a vital host to myriad wildlife species and provide natural water filtration. While the Duck Stamp is commonly associated with waterfowl and migratory bird hunting, they represent beautifully painted scenes and are collected by many wildlife and art enthusiasts. Anyone can influence wetland conservation through the purchase of a Duck Stamp, which are available online and at nearly any United States Post Office.

Brad Trumbo

Senior Staff Writer at Harvesting Nature Brad is an author and outdoor columnist who lives in southeast Washington State with his wife Ali and a pack of Llewellin setters on a small homestead. He serves the public as a fish and wildlife biologist and active Pheasants Forever life member. He pens conservation news for Harvesting Nature and authored the upland hunting book, Wingshooting the Palouse, which is available from Ingram Content Group and Amazon. You can find Brad on Instagram @tailfeathers_upland and @palouse_upland_media.

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