THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE ANNOUNCES $30 MILLION ADMINISTRATION REQUEST
TO PROTECT AND RESTORE NORTH AMERICAN WETLANDS
Washington, DC -- Vice President Al Gore announced today that the Administration will propose $30 million -- double this year's funding -- to protect and restore wetlands through voluntary partnerships with state and local governments, farmers and other private landowners, Indian tribes and non-profit conservation groups.
The Vice President said that the Administration's fiscal year 2001 budget will request a $15 million increase for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, a popular and effective wetlands conservation program, which has protected 3.2 million acres of wildlife habitat in the United States. Last year, the Administration proposed and secured $15 million for the North American program in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service budget.
"America's wildlife and wetlands are part of our heritage. We are committed to expanding voluntary partnerships to protect wetlands and wildlife and increase opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, bird watching and other activities," said Vice President Gore.
"The Administration's proposal to double the funding for North American wetlands protection is a major new commitment to leverage funding to protect key wetlands across the country."
Established by Congress in 1989, the North American wetlands program is authorized by the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) "to conserve wetland ecosystems and waterfowl and the other migratory birds and fish and wildlife that depend upon such habitats." In 1998, President Clinton signed NAWCA re-authorizing legislation that raised the annual funding authorization from $15 million to $30 million.
If the proposed fiscal year 2001 increase is approved by Congress, the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (NAWCC), after reviewing project requests submitted by local partners, would make funding recommendations to the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission for final approval. The Migratory Bird Commission includes the Secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Congressional leaders from the House and Senate.
Through voluntary partnerships, the proposed federal funding would leverage a minimum of an additional $30 million in non-federal funds for a total of at least $60 million through a one-to-one matching requirement. Many projects focus on restoring wetlands and acquiring wetlands from willing sellers to be managed for wildlife conservation by private organizations or state and federal agencies. Wetlands restoration activities include re-vegetation, acquiring conservation easements and establishing water management capabilities.
The North American Wetlands Conservation Council includes representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, states from each of the four migratory bird "flyways," and non-profit conservation organizations.
The North American Wetlands Conservation Council (NAWCC) has focused on projects designed to protect and restore important breeding grounds along with resting and over-wintering areas for waterfowl, other migratory birds and wetland wildlife. In the United States, these areas include the prairie pothole region in the upper Midwest, coastal areas in Louisiana and South Carolina, the Central Valley of California, the Chesapeake Bay and other areas. Projects from Canada and Mexico are eligible for funding.
Recently funded proposals include projects in Arkansas ($667,000), California ($1,525,000), Illinois ($740,00), Iowa ($600,000), Louisiana ($1,000,000), Maryland ($700,000), Michigan ($1,000,000), Missouri ($1,000,000), North Dakota ($760,000), New Hampshire ($944,00), New Jersey ($1,000,000), Oregon ($785,000), Texas ($560,000), Vermont ($1,000,000) and Washington State ($966,000).
Additional information about NAWCA is available at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service web site at: http://northamerican.fws.gov/nawcahp.html