North American Wetlands Conservation Act celebrates 30th anniversary

Published: Dec. 8, 2019 at 10:13 PM CST
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The North American Wetlands Conservation Act is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month.

In the last thirty years, continental waterfowl populations have increased, and at least part of that can be attributed to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, also known as NAWCA.

"And NAWCA is not a regulatory piece of language or work out there, but what it does is it really works in concert with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan that scientists across three countries Canada, United States and Mexico have worked on for decades and set goals for waterfowl and in more recently wetland related birds that it provides funding to protect, conserve, enhance that habitat that is so crucial and that would be wetlands and upland nesting cover for waterfowl across the North American continent." said ND Game and Fish Director, Terry Steinwand.

North Dakota, because of its position in the prairie pothole region and its significance to continental duck production, has played a key role in NAWCA right from the beginning. Since 1989, more than 80 projects in the state have helped conserve or enhance about 1.7 million acres of habitat. And that's just a small part of what has occurred nationally.

"About $1.7 billion of federal monies have come into this and, again, that's just dollars. About $3.5 billion dollars of matching funds, and that's over 6,200 partners during that period of time. And it's impacted more than almost 30.5 million acres of habitat out there," said Steinwand.

Thousands of non-federal partners have participated, and most important are the landowners who voluntarily enroll parts of their land into projects supported by NAWCA grants.

"There's a major impact and beneficial impact to landowners out there, too, because the majority of that money goes onto the land and somebody owns that land. They get the benefit of that also. So you hate to say win win but it really is a win win for places like North and South Dakota," said Steinwand.

Director Steinwand has chaired the North American Wetlands Conservation Council for the last seven years. The council reviews and approves wetland habitat projects nationwide.