Interior announces NAWCA grants

By Laura Bies

Snow geese take flight in Delta, Utah. ©Tom Becker, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The Department of Interior has announced the approval of $23.8 million in grants for waterfowl and wetland conservation. The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission issued the grants, which will be awarded to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the conservation of nearly 135,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds in 17 states. Made through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the grants will also be matched by more than $60 million from partners.  

The goal of NAWCA grants, which were awarded Sept. 5, is to increase bird populations and wetland habitat, while supporting local economies; wildlife-dependent recreation such as hunting, fishing and bird watching; family farming and cattle ranching. Wetlands protected by NAWCA perform key ecosystem services such as flood control, reducing erosion, improving water and air quality and recharging ground water. 

Since 1989, NAWCA has funded over 2,800 projects totaling $1.6 billion in grants. More than 6,000 partners have contributed another $3.3 billion in matching funds. Overall, 30 million acres of habitat through the U.S., Canada and Mexico have benefited from NAWCA. A complete list of the projects funded through this grant cycle is available here 

The commission also authorized the funding of 37 NAWCA small grant projects, which were previously approved by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council in February. These grants are available for projects up to $100,000 and are intended to encourage new grantees and partners to carry out smaller-scale conservation work. For the small grants approved this year, $3.4 million in grants was matched by $12.5 million in partner funding. 

In addition to the NAWCA grants, the commission allocated over $13.1 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to projects at six National Wildlife Refuges. Mostly from the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps (or Duck Stamps), these funds will support the conservation of 5,802 acres across six refuges: 

  • Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana ($9,928,536) 
  • Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland ($833,000) 
  • Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge, Tennessee ($873,878) 
  • Erie National Wildlife Refuge, Pennsylvania ($215,000) 
  • Ouray National Wildlife Refuge, Utah ($34,300 per year for a lease) 
  • San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, Texas ($1,255,500)

The purchase of Duck Stamps is required for waterfowl hunters, and many other wildlife enthusiasts also purchase one each year to support habitat conservation. Since its inception in 1934, sales of the Duck Stamp have provided more than $1 billion for habitat conservation in the Refuge System.  

For more information, see the Department of the Interior’s press release. 

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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