, June 12, 2008 (ENS) - The federal Migratory Bird Conservation Commission today approved $4 million to purchase more than 18,000 acres of prairie wetland and grassland habitat for the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Minnesota
In one of the largest purchases to use dollars generated by Federal Duck Stamp sales and import duties on firearms and ammunition, the commission says the nation's hunters are contributing to conservation of the habitat on which wetland waterfowl depend.
The current Federal Duck Stamp features a pair of ring-neck ducks drawn by Richard Clifton. It expires on June 30, 2008. (Image courtesy USFWS)
"The purchase of these lands for the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge symbolizes the tremendous investment our nation's sportsmen and women have made to natural resource conservation through their purchase of Federal Duck stamps, and through the import duties paid on firearms and ammunition," said Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who serves as the commission's chairman.
Established in October 2004, the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge is located near Crookston, in Minnesota's Polk County.
The acquisition of the 18,118 acres for the refuge will provide wetland and grassland habitat for migratory waterfowl such as the mallard, northern pintail, blue-winged teal, and ring-necked duck species, and the Canada goose and tundra swan.
It will form a large area of contiguous prairie habitat to help compensate to the fact that currently, less than one percent of Minnesota's original northern tallgrass prairie habitat remains.
The refuge is open to the public for recreational activities such as hiking, hunting, fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
The commission meets three times a year and includes Senators Blanche Lincoln, an Arkansas Democrat, and Thad Cochran, a Mississippi Republican; Representatives John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat; and Wayne Gilchrest, a Maryland Republican; as well as Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson.
At this meeting, the commission also approved the purchase of an additional 3,000 acres of waterfowl habitat for inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The Commission's approval of refuge acquisitions also secured breeding, resting and feeding habitat that will be added to three other National Wildlife Refuges.
The Commission also approved more than $24 million in federal funding to protect, restore, enhance and manage more than 107,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitats in Canada, Mexico and the United States under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, NAWCA.
This total includes $19.7 million for four Canadian projects that will benefit North American migratory waterfowl on nearly 80,000 acres in 12 provinces and territories across Canada.
It also includes nearly $640,000 for two projects that will help protect 2,470 acres in Mexico.
Partners will contribute an additional $33 million in total for these six projects.
The commission also authorized more than $1.67 million to fund 27 projects under the NAWCA U.S. Small Grants program. These projects were previously approved for funding, along with 35 others, by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, and will restore, enhance or protect more than 28,657 acres in 24 states.
Partners will contribute another $29 million toward these projects.
The grants are funded by annual Congressional appropriations; fines, penalties and forfeitures levied under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; interest accrued on funds under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act; and excise taxes paid on small engine fuels through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Fund.
More information about NAWCA grant programs and summaries of the projects approved today is online at: http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NAWCA/index.shtm.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.
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