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House Approves Joint Ventures Program to Protect Migratory Birds
WASHINGTON, DC, July 16, 2009 (ENS) - The U.S. House of Representatives Monday passed a bill that would formally authorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Joint Ventures Program, which has been effectively carrying out bird conservation planning and projects since 1987.

The Joint Ventures for Bird Habitat Conservation Act of 2009 was introduced by Congressman Frank Kratovil, the freshman Democrat representing the 1st district of Maryland.

"This bill ensures that the land will be protected against development, and the health of the environment will be preserved," said Kratovil. "These protections serve not only as environmental friendly initiatives but they build the local economy by protecting vital industries closely related to health of the Chesapeake Bay."

Joint ventures are regional partnerships involving federal, state, and local government agencies, corporations, tribes, individuals, and conservation organizations which advance conservation efforts and help identify local land use priorities.

The Golden-winged warbler is among the birds that will benefit from the Joint Ventures Program. (Photo by Roger Erikkson courtesy Birdscope/Cornell Ornithology Lab)

"American Bird Conservancy appreciates the effective leadership of Representative Kratovil to get this bill passed. Joint Ventures are a proven success and have made a huge difference for bird conservation," said Darin Schroeder, American Bird Conservancy's vice president for conservation advocacy.

"By applying science and bringing people together, Joint Ventures across the U.S. have created a model for solving wildlife management problems and restoring habitats critical to conserving declining species," Schroeder said.

There are currently 21 Joint Ventures across the United States that provide coordination for conservation planning, and implementing projects to benefit birds and other species. Joint Ventures develop science-based goals and strategies, and a non-regulatory approach for achieving conservation.

The Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, of which Maryland is a member, focuses on bird habitat in the Atlantic Flyway. The efforts of this Joint Venture have resulted in over 280,000 acres of protected, restored, or enhanced habitat in Maryland.

The Atlantic Flyway runs from Maine to Puerto Rico covering parts of 17 states and commonwealths. From 1988 to date, nearly five million acres of wetlands, wetland-associated and other habitat areas have been conserved through the Atlantic Joint Venture.

The Atlantic Coast Joint Venture partnership has protected 158,000 acres in Maryland, and restored another 98,000 acres. It helps direct funding for the restoration of Chesapeake Bay such as land acquisition and supports projects to plant aquatic vegetation in the Bay benefitting birds and other wildlife.

The western end of Maryland is part of the recently-created Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture which is working to conserve species such as the Kentucky, Worm-eating, Prairie, and Golden-winged Warblers, Wood Thrush, American Woodcock, and American Black Duck.

Nationally, Joint Ventures have directed $4.5 billion in conservation spending from federal grants and programs, state conservation dollars, and private donations and have protected, restored, or enhanced more than 13 million acres of important habitat for migratory bird species.

Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.

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