$50.6 million allocated for wetland and bird habitat conservation

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September 18, 2023 — The Department of Interior announced a major investment in America’s natural resources under the authority of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.  On September 13, the Department revealed that the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has greenlit over $50.6 million for the conservation, restoration, and enhancement of more than 106,600 acres of wetlands across the U.SOpens in a new tab..

  • The Commission set aside over $39.4 million from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants, which will be paired with over $74.1 million in partner funds.
  • The Commission also approved $11.24 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to extend land areas of two national wildlife refuges. This expansion is expected to amplify public access to hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, and other outdoor activities.

Secretary Deb HaalandOpens in a new tab. emphasized the collective responsibility in maintaining the health of the nation’s wildlife and wetlands, saying, “The funding announced today will bolster the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, aimed at inclusive conservation of the country’s lands and waters.”

Service Director Martha Williams highlighted the importance of wetlands for migratory birds, biodiversity, water quality, and flood protection. She statedOpens in a new tab., “NAWCA grants not only boost bird populations and their habitats but also offer multiple recreational opportunities and economic benefits.”

Under the authorization of NAWCA, the the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has been pivotal in conserving critical waterfowl habitats. Since 1991, over $6.4 billion has been dedicated to wetland conservation, with more than $2.1 billion from the Commission matched by over $4.3 billion from partners.

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act authorizes grants to public-private partnerships in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. to protect, enhance, restore, and manage waterfowl, other migratory birds, other fish and wildlife, and the wetland ecosystems and other habitats upon which they depend, in alignment with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. NAWCA features both a Standard and a Small Grants Program. Both programs operate on a competitive basis and necessitate that grant requests are matched by partner contributions at no less than a 1-to-1 ratio. Funds derived from U.S. Federal sources can be contributed towards a project but cannot be counted as a match. (16 U.S.C. 4401Opens in a new tab..)

Migratory Bird Conservation Fund Highlights.

The fund’s latest allocation is primarily derived from the sales of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, known as Duck Stamps, as well as import duties. Two primary beneficiaries are:

  • Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho: $6,240,000 to buy 2,496 acres.
  • Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina: $5,000,000 for 446 acres.

While Duck Stamps are primarily for waterfowl hunters, anyone interested in conservation can purchase them. A current Federal Duck Stamp also grants access to any national wildlife refuge charging an entry fee.

For more details on these grants, one can visit the Service’s official website.


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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