Wetlands effort well worth federal funding

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Wetlands effort well worth federal funding

Postby biodukmc » Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:51 pm

Published on SavannahNow.com (http://savannahnow.com)

Wetlands effort well worth federal funding
By John Burke

Created 2007-06-23 23:30

There is a move afoot in Congress that is not setting well with wildlife conservation groups, in particular, Ducks Unlimited.
It has to do with the 2007 Farm Bill, and if passed in its present form, would eliminate funds for one of the most important programs now in existence that helps offset the annual loss of wetlands in the United States.
It is called the Wetlands Reserve Program - a program designed to encourage farmers and other land owners to restore wetlands on marginal, flood-prone lands.

It is done through easement payments and cost sharing that is commensurate with the terms of the easement - 100 percent for perpetual easements and 75 percent for 30-year easements.
The WRP has, since its start in 1990, been a vital tool in reestablishing small wetlands areas throughout the U.S.

Millions of acres transformed

More than two million acres of marginal farmland have been transformed into wetland habitat - habitat that is critically important, not only for waterfowl, but for many other species of wildlife.

When one weighs this against the fact that an estimated 80,000 acres of wetlands are annually lost throughout the U.S., the WRP is a program is far too important to be ignored and discarded from the Farm Bill.
George Erwin, state chairman of Ducks Unlimited for Georgia, has been sounding the alarm along with other state and national DU representatives.

DU's goals

DU's position on WRP for the 2007 Farm Bill is multiple, seeking annual enrollment of a minimum of 250,000 acres in the program, maintaining current protection measures for preventing conversion of wetlands to other uses, and to ensure that alternative energy initiatives do not harm what already has been an investment in the agricultural conservation program.

Termed a voluntary program and a very popular conservation program, the WRP is the largest federal wetland restoration program ever.
It is also noted that the WRP funding does not compete with commodity-type payments to farmers and ranchers.

We cannot afford to desert our waterfowl or our wildlife in general.
There are just so many acres in this great country that can be considered wetland habitat, or suitable to be converted into such.

Case in point

If Congress is now thinking that converting some of this land to other uses, such as the production of alternative fuels, is economically sound, it should take a close look at a recent study by the University of Tennessee's Agricultural Policy Analysis Center concerning the Conservation Reserve Programs economic trade-offs last year.
According to information forwarded by DU, the study indicates the elimination of the CRP would save the government $12 billion in payments between 2007 and 2015.

However, the additional crops that would be produced on former CRP lands would increase market supply and thereby lower commodity prices.
This would, in turn, require an increase of $45 billion in subsidy payments to farmers.

The conclusion was that retaining the CRP would save U.S. taxpayers $33 billion.

DU asks a similar question about WRP. What will be the additional cost to U.S. taxpayers if the funding is not restored for WRP as well?

Waterfowl and all species of wildlife must have adequate habitat. Without it, there will be none and there isn't a price tag to cover anything like that.
Congress needs to restore the WRP funding. Ducks Unlimited is urging all of its members to contact their congressional representatives in support of WRP funding.

I hope everyone will get behind this effort. Our wildlife is a precious gift of nature, and one we cannot afford to neglect.

But time is of the essence. Congress will soon be making a decision on where the monies will be spent. Call you congressman and senator now and ask them to support keeping the WRP funding.

Outdoor Editor John Burke can be reached at 652-0299 or at john.burke@savannahnow.com

The WRP is in need of URGENT support. Please use the following linkhttp://www.ducks.org/Support_DU/Tak ... veWRP.html to get the word to your member of Congress and to Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi that we need the WRP funded to maintain our 2,000,000 acres of WRP funded habitat.

They must receive your message before the July 4th recess.

Thank you for your hard effort to protect this great natural resource.

You can take action by visiting the DU website at: http://www.ducks.org/Support_DU/TakeAct ... veWRP.html
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2007 12:26 pm

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Postby biodukmc » Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:52 pm

A bit more info:

As you read this, Congress is in session devising the Farm Bill. The current proposal in Congress does not provide any funding in the Farm Bill for the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP). We can’t let this happen! If you care about wildlife, wetlands and hunting (and I know you do) please help! It’ll only take a minute.

Here’s what we need you to do:

Please e-mail or call your U.S. Senators and Representative. Phone calls are more effective than email. You can call (202) 225-3121, which will get you to a Capitol Hill operator who will connect you to your Congressman. If you don’t know who your Congressman or Senators are, you can log on to the Ducks Unlimited website for assistance. When calling your Congressman or Senator, please ask for the staff person who works on agriculture issues and use the talking points provided below.

They must receive your message before the July 4th recess.

If logging on to the DU website, go to http://www.ducks.org/Support_DU/Take...toSaveWRP.html to reach the “Take Action to Save WRP” box located at the lower right of the front page to find the phone numbers of your Senators and Representatives.

The most important thing – the essential message – is that we need funding for WRP and GRP in the Farm Bill. Please ask your Senators and Representatives to request from the House and Senate Leadership additional dollars for WRP and GRP in the Farm Bill.

Points: 1) The Wetlands Reserve Program and the Grasslands Reserve Program are critical agricultural conservation tools in the Farm Bill.
2) WRP & GRP funding is being cut to zero. The programs will come to a halt without the needed dollars to continue.
3) If funding for WRP and GRP is not provided, Congress is telling landowners that being a good steward of the land is less important than growing crops on marginal lands.
4) Please ensure that the Wetlands Reserve Program and Grasslands Reserve Program are saved. Please have the Senator/Representative ask Leadership to provide funding to the Agriculture Committee for WRP and GRP.

Since 1990, WRP has restored more than 2 million acres of wetlands on marginal farmland, providing critical habitat for deer, turkey, waterfowl and many other wildlife species. WRP is integral in helping to offset the 80,000 acres of wetlands that continue to be lost in the U.S. each year. It is a totally voluntary and very popular conservation program.
Since 2002, GRP has restored and protected more than 900,000 grassland acres while maintaining them as grazing lands.
WRP is the largest federal wetland restoration program ever, and GRP is the largest grasslands protection program. We have an opportunity to influence key decision makers in Congress, but if we don’t do more, we will lose WRP and GRP.

So PLEASE do three things:

1. Phone your Congressman and two US Senators before June 28th
2. Ask your board and supporters to do the same.
3. Have everyone ask at least 6 other people to also make these 3 calls.

Do it today if possible.

Thank you for what you do for the wetlands and the ducks.

Thank you from the ducks!
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2007 12:26 pm

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