Federal NAWCA grant supports long-term wetland conservation
GREENVILLE, North Carolina - Ducks Unlimited and partners received a $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant for protection and enhancement of over 20,000 acres of diverse wildlife habitat in southeastern North Carolina. Partners contributed over $3 million in matching funds toward the federal grant.
"Over 50 percent of North Carolina's original wetlands have been lost," said Craig LeSchack, Ducks Unlimited Director of Conservation Programs for North Carolina. "This region is experiencing unprecedented growth and development, and the threats of wetland loss, degradation and fragmentation increase each year."
The four project sites are located within the Holly Shelter Game Lands in Pender County, the Suggs Mill Pond Game Lands in Bladen County, and within a newly acquired public game land along the Lower Cape Fear River.
"We plan to enhance managed wetlands on the two existing state game lands," LeSchack said. "As part of this project, the 1,440-acre Whitehall Plantation in Bladen County will be permanently protected through incorporation into the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission's Game Lands Program."
This grant is an important part of ongoing conservation efforts in North Carolina. The projects included in the proposal partially compensate for the region's loss of seasonally flooded forested wetlands. Local and regional water quality, recreational and educational opportunities will be enhanced.
"Like all of our projects, the partners involved in this one made it possible," LeSchack said. Ducks Unlimited is partnering with The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, and North Carolina Natural Heritage Trust Fund to deliver the project. All of the work will take place on North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission lands.
"The NCWRC is proud to participate with our conservation partners in the acquisition of the Whitehall Tract. The property borders the Cape Fear River and provides outstanding habitat to support good numbers of whitetail deer, wild turkey, various species of waterfowl, neotropical migrants, wading birds and Swallow-tailed Kites. The land will be incorporated into the Game Land Program in the future where the citizens of our state will have the opportunity to experience the wonderment of the Cape Fear floodplain," NCWRC Coastal Supervisor Tommy Hughes said.
In Washington, D.C., Ducks Unlimited's governmental affairs staff works with Congress to garner support for annual funding of NAWCA. To date, NAWCA has helped fund more than 1,800 wetland projects on 24 million acres in all 50 states, every province of Canada, and areas in Mexico. In North Carolina alone, NAWCA projects have conserved over 68,000 acres.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization having conserved over 12 million acres. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - natures' most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.
Press release found at The Outdoor Wire