Vice President Announces Plan to Protect Four Million Additional Acres of Wetlands
TWF Board Member Terry Lewis and Communications Director Karen Vaughn attended the White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy last week in Reno, NV. More than 500 representatives of wildlife conservation groups and wildlife agencies from around the country met to discuss the development of a comprehensive ten year Recreational Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Plan.
The plan is a result of Executive Order (E.O.) # 13443: Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation, signed by President Bush in August 2007 directing the Department of Interior and Agriculture to “facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting opportunities and the management of game species and their habitat.” The order directed the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality to work with and consult the Sporting Conservation Council, state fish and wildlife agencies and the public to facilitate the exchange of information and advice to fulfill the purposes of the order.
At the meeting’s first day, participants broke into four groups to discuss eight core topics for the strategic plan: Funding for Wildlife Conservation; Management of Wildlife Habitat; Maintaining Access to Public and Private Land; Education, Recruitment and Retention; The North American Model; Federal, State and Tribal Coordination; Climate Change Impacts; and Energy Development. Suggestions and comments made in the work groups will be considered for incorporation into the Administration’s plan.
Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to the conference on Friday prior to its conclusion. In addition to detailing progress and several victories President Bush and his Administration has made on wildlife conservation over the past seven years, Vice President Cheney announced the commitment of the Administration to restore, improve and protect at least four million additional acres of wetlands over the next five years.
To meet the new goal of four million acres, the President directed the Department of Agriculture to provide $204 million over ten years in new payments to encourage conservation practices in the Conservation Reserve Program. The new financing will include a Signing Incentive Program of up to $100 per acre, a Practice Incentive Payment of 40 percent of the initial cost, and an increase in rental rates by 20 percent for the Floodplain Wetlands Restoration practice, the Non-Floodplain Wetlands Restoration practice, the Bottomland Hardwood Forests practice, and Duck Nesting Habitat.
The Administration also announced the first-ever national assessment of wetland condition for wetlands across America. Led by the EPA and conducted in partnership with the Department of the Interior, the National Wetland Condition Assessment Project will be delivered in 2013.
For more information on the conference and for more details on President Bush’s initiatives, click here.