Ducks Unlimited is applauding the efforts of a bipartisan group of senators who this week released S. 2282, legislation that would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) through 2017. Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK) introduced the bill last night along with Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA), and five other co-sponsors signed on: Sens. Thad Cochran (MS), Tim Johnson (SD), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Mary Landrieu (LA) and David Vitter (LA).

“This is a great day for conservationists throughout the United States. Ducks Unlimited is extremely grateful to Senators Inhofe, Boxer, Cochran, Johnson, Klobuchar, Landrieu and Vitter for their leadership in introducing legislation to reauthorize NAWCA,” said Paul Schmidt, chief conservation officer for Ducks Unlimited. “This joint effort by the chair and ranking member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, coupled with a diverse suite of bipartisan co-sponsors, is a testament to how NAWCA is a model for uniting diverse and effective partnerships in support of shared conservation objectives.”

The bill is expected to be included on the hearing schedule for the Environment and Public Works Committee on April 24, along with several other conservation bills.

Rep. Rob Wittman (VA) introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives—H.R. 1960, the North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act—on behalf of himself and Rep. John Dingell (MI) on May 24, 2011. Thirteen additional co-sponsors have joined in support of the bill, and Ducks Unlimited continues to reach out to House members to ask for their support of the program.

Schmidt reiterated DU’s support of H.R. 1960, its sponsors and co-sponsors on Thursday as he testified before the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs. “We commend Congress for their foresight in creating NAWCA in 1989 and repeatedly taking action to ensure the long-term success of this important program,” he said. “NAWCA is the most effective wetland restoration program in the country, and we strongly urge the Committee to reauthorize NAWCA for an additional five years.”

NAWCA conserves North America’s waterfowl, fish and wildlife resources while producing a variety of environmental and economic benefits. Its success is driven by partnerships involving federal, state and local governments; nonprofit organizations like DU; and community groups. Every federal dollar provided by NAWCA must be matched by at least one dollar from non-federal sources.

Because the program is so effective, NAWCA funds are usually tripled or quadrupled on the local level. More than $1 billion in federal grants has been allocated for NAWCA projects—a figure that has leveraged an additional $3 billion from matching and non-matching funds. Since its inception, more than 1,600 NAWCA projects have contributed to the conservation of more than 25 million acres of habitat across North America.

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