Migrating ducks must be able to find high quality food every 50 to 70 miles along their migration route. For that they must be able to find wetlands every 50 to 70 miles along their flyways. They can be in public wildlife refuges or in private waterfowl clubs. As I noted in an earlier post that last year when flooding extended into the fall, the ducks were hard put to find good feeding place, which were under water. They depended on places like the Fort Chartres Waterfowl Club in Randolph County, Illinois. The North American Wetlands Conservation Program is an effort to assure that ducks do find high quality food in preserved or restored wetlands.
President Obama’s budget for 2010 proposes a 25% increase in funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act Program, bringing the amount to $52 million. The president also proposed fully funding the program at $75 million by 2012. That would create 3,700 jobs.
Congress passed the NAWCA in 1989 to provide federal cost-share funding to support the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. It is a voluntary conservation program in which public-private partnerships protect, restore, and manage wetland habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife.
Every dollar of federal money allocated to the plan must be matched with private or non-federal money from sources like Ducks Unlimited or state fish and wildlife agencies. To date the program has funded over 1,800 projects across 24 million acres of wetlands in the U.S. Canada, and Mexico. Partners include private landowners, industry, and state government. As of January 2009 the program has generated $900 million in federal funds matched by $2.7 billion in private and non-federal funds.
Congress established the Panther National Wildlife Refuge in 1978 to provide food for waterfowl in the fall and winter.
When they drawdown the moist soil unit in July, nesting herons, wood storks, and white ibis wade in to feed on the high concentrations of fish and crawdads. A slow drawdown allows the crawdads to burrow in the mud to breed.