Interior announces $130 million toward wetlands

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved a total of $130 million in federal grants and matching funds this month to advance wetlands conservation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received $33.3 million for the conservation of nearly 157,000 acres of wetlands and associated uplands for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds in 21 states. Delivered through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the grants will be matched by more than $85 million from partners.

The Wildlife Society regularly advocates for NAWCA funding in federal appropriations. These grants aim to increase bird populations and conserve wetlands, while supporting local economies through wildlife-dependent recreation such as hunting, fishing, wildlife and bird watching, as well as family farming and cattle ranching. Since 1989, NAWCA has funded over 3,000 projects with more than 6,000 partners. A complete list of the projects funded through this grant cycle is available here.

The commission also authorized the funding of 34 NAWCA small grant projects, which were previously approved by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council in February. These grants provide up to $100,000 to projects and are intended to encourage smaller-scale conservation work. For the small grants approved this year, the $3.2 million in grants is being matched by $7.8 million in partner funding.

In addition to the NAWCA grants, the commission allocated nearly $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, known as Duck Stamps, these funds will support the conservation of 419 acres across three refuges:

  • Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Missouri ($532,000 for 197 acres)
  • Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota ($176,000 for 160 acres)
  • Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Connecticut ($250,000 for 62 acres)

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

NAWCA expired in 2012, although Congress has continued to provide annual appropriations. TWS has supported the bipartisan America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (S. 3051 / H.R. 925) which would reauthorize the bill through 2024 while increasing the authorized annual funding level to $60 million. The legislation has passed the Senate and awaits action in the House.

Header Image: Grants through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act have funded over 3,000 projects totaling $1.83 billion in grants over the past 20 years. Credit: Lisa McNee/BLM