SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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HEARING ON H.R. 2401, CBRA TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS; AND H.R. 2556, TO REAUTHORIZE THE NORTH AMERICAN WETLANDS CONSERVATION ACT OF 1989
SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES CONSERVATION, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
OCTOBER 23, 1997, WASHINGTON, DC
Serial No. 10564
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Printed for the use of the Committee on Resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
GEORGE MILLER, California
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
MAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
SAM FARR, California
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
ADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
WAYNE T. GIL.CHREST, Maryland
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSAM FARR, California
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
HARRY BURROUGHS, Staff Director
JOHN RAYFIELD, Legislative Staff
CHRISTOPHER STEARNS, Democratic Counsel
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held October 23, 1997
Statement of Members:
Abercrombie, Hon. Neil, a Representative in Congress from the State of Hawaii, prepared statement of
Saxton, Hon. Jim, a Representative in Congress from the State of New Jersey
Prepared statement of
Tanner, Hon. John, a Representative in Congress from the State of Tennessee
Prepared statement of
Tauzin, Hon. W. J. ''Billy'', a Representative in Congress from the State of Louisiana
Young, Hon. Don, a Representative in Congress from the State of Alaska, prepared statement of
Statement of Witnesses:
Barry, Mr. Don, Acting Assistant Secretary, Department of the Interior
Prepared statement of
Beard, Daniel P., Senior Vice President for Public Policy, National Audubon Society, Washington, DC, prepared statement of
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCConnolly, Matthew B., Executive Vice President, Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Prepared statement of
Peterson, R. Max, Executive Vice President, International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Prepared statement of
Topercer, William E., Ocean Reed Community Association
Prepared statement of
HEARING ON H.R. 2401, CBRA TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS; AND H.R. 2556, TO REAUTHORIZE THE NORTH AMERICAN WETLANDS CONSERVATION ACT OF 1989
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 1997
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans, Committee on Resources, Washington, DC
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:10 p.m., in Room 1324, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Jim Saxton [chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.
Mr. SAXTON. [presiding] The Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans will come to order for the purposes of holding a hearing.
STATEMENT OF HON. JIM SAXTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Mr. SAXTON. The purpose of today's hearing is to discuss H.R. 2401, which amends the Coastal Barrier Resources System, and H.R. 2556, which reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Partnership for Wildlife Act.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Coastal Barrier Resources System is a program which attempts to reduce the waste of Federal expenditures by restricting Federal development assistance in coastal barriers. I have been informed that the property addressed in H.R. 2401 was mistakenly included in the system and that removing it is not controversial. I look forward to hearing from the Department of the Interior regarding this bill.
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act is one of several Federal programs to improve wetlands protection in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It matches Federal dollars with contributions from State, local, and private organizations for wetland conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico that support the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
The populations of most species of migratory ducks and geese in North America have been increasing over the last several years. It is impossible to say whether or not any single program has caused this increase, but habitat conservation is certainly making an important contribution.
I ask unanimous consent that the rest of my statement be included in the record.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Saxton follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JIM SAXTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Good afternoon. The purpose of today's hearing is to discuss H.R. 2401, which amends the Coastal Barrier Resources System, and H.R. 2556, which reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Partnerships for Wildlife Act.
The Coastal Barrier Resources System is a program which attempts to reduce wasteful Federal expenditures by restricting Federal development assistance on coastal barriers. I have been informed that the property addressed by H.R. 2401 was mistakenly included in the System, and that removing it is not controversial. I look forward to hearing from the Department of the Interior regarding this bill.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The North American Wetlands Conservation Act is one of several programs devoted to improving wetlands protection in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It matches Federal dollars with contributions from state, local, and private organizations for wetland conservation projects in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico that support the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The program has resulted in the protection of more than three million acres of wetlands in the U.S. and Canada over the past seven years.
The populations of most species of migratory ducks and geese in North America have been increasing for the last several years. It is impossible to say whether or not any single program has caused this increase, but habitat conservation is certainly making an important contribution. There seems to be widespread agreement that the North American Wetlands Conservation Act is a critical part of this effort.
The Partnerships for Wildlife Act was enacted to ensure that nongame, non-endangered wildlife did not slip through the cracks between existing conservation programs. It also matches Federal dollars with state and local funds to support a wide variety of wildlife conservation and appreciation projects.
I look forward to hearing our witnesses' opinions of these programs. I am particularly interested in hearing from the Administration regarding the level of funding they intend to request for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act in future fiscal years.
Mr. SAXTON. Does the gentleman from Louisiana have any comments to make at this point?
STATEMENT OF HON. W. J. ''BILLY'' TAUZIN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF LOUISIANA
Mr. TAUZIN. Yes, just to show, Mr. Chairman, because I want to call the meeting's attention to something you and I have talked about privately. I see that Mr. Tanner has arrived and I will be very brief.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But that is that, when it comes to coastal wetlands, preservation of coastal wetlands faces a new and serious threat. And I know that the Chairman of the Full Committee does not like for me to talk too much about whether or not sea level is rising, and whether or not it's affecting global warming, and some other reason. But I live in an area where we have 25 percent of the Nation's wetlands, primarily coastal wetlands.
And a sea-level rise of a meter, which is predicted by some people over the next 50 to 100 years, and a sea-level rise of as much as 10 feet, which is predicted by some who claim that there are serious changes going on in the Antarctic and some of the ice shelves there, either one of those, one foot to one yard and one yard to ten feet, would literally drown the coastal estuaries and the barrier islands of Louisiana, and we're told that that kind of sea-level rise would probably affect 50 million people worldwide. It would literally obliterate some of the Pacific Island communities, and would mean the end of the entire estuaries system in Louisiana and many of the coastal areas.
And while we're discussing conservation efforts, I simply wanted to put on the table that, sooner or later, our committee, and perhaps the full committee, needs to be looking at this new sort of threat to coastal wetlands and barrier islands that is only now beginning to be discussed in back rooms and in scientific sort of laboratories.
If, in fact, the numbers we're getting in Louisiana are that in the next 50 to 100 years we're going to have a meter of water, saltwater, on our coastal estuaries, we have a huge problem. The huge problem is that in our current systems of wetlands protection, we're not allowed to do a whole lot to protect those coastal wetlands from saltwater flooding. We're not allowed to do it, and even if you get a permit to do it, you have to mitigate that permit.
It seems to me that we ought to be at least beginning a discussion on whether we want to seriously think about making sure that if, in fact, we're going to have a sea-level rise, despite all the best efforts to sign global warming treaties or what-have-you, that we ought to be thinking about a policy for coastal wetlands that is separate and apart from national wetland policy, that is designed to protect wetlands from other threats other than coastal saltwater flooding; and that maybe projects designed to protect and preserve coastal wetland areas from saltwater flooding ought to be the beneficiary of mitigation monies not burdened with that obligation. And that sort of discussion ought to begin soon at this level, Mr. Chairman.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While I recognize this bill does not yet deal with that issue, perhaps this and other vehicles might be useful vehicles for us to not only launch that discussion, but perhaps at some point to build a policy that gives us some chance to respond to the loss of coastal estuaries and barrier islands, not because we're developing them for man's purposes, but because the sea itself is going to swallow them with saltwater if we're not prepared somehow to defend them against that threat.
Mr. Chairman, that's basically all I wanted to say. I look forward to hearing my friend John Tanner's testimony and the other witnesses today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SAXTON. I thank the gentleman from Louisiana for his comments.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Young follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. DON YOUNG, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ALASKA
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am pleased that you are holding this hearing today on H.R. 2556, a bill you introduced to reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Partnerships for Wildlife Act.
The purpose of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act is to conserve wetland ecosystems and the species they support, in particular migratory waterfowl. This Act provides the financial assistance necessary for the implementation of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, an agreement originally signed in 1986 to reverse the loss of wetlands throughout the continent and stem the decline in migratory bird populations.
Wetlands are among the most productive habitats on earthserving as breeding, nursing, and wintering grounds for an array of fish and wildlife. In the last two centuries, a significant amount of wetlands in the lower 48 states has been lost. As a result, certain waterfowl and other migratory birds in Canada, Mexico, and the United States have declined. To aid in recovery of waterfowl populations, the United States and Canada signed the North American Waterfowl Management Plan in 1986. This plan lays out a strategy to increase waterfowl populations by restoring and protecting their habitats. To achieve this, the plan relies on partnerships between public agencies and private organizations to fund and implement wetlands conservation projects.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Act seeks to promote public-private partnerships to enhance, restore, and manage wetland ecosystems for migratory birds and other wetland-dependent species in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Since the Act's inception, 497 wetland conservation projects throughout North America have been funded.
To date, such partnerships have protected more than 3.6 million acres of wetlands, providing vital habitat for a rich diversity of wildlife. The Act is recognized as an effective model of wetlands management and conservation partnerships.
Furthermore, on August 29, 1997, I cosigned a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittees urging them to allocate $13 million for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act in Fiscal Year 1998.
This Act is an outstanding conservation investment and I look forward to hearing from our distinguished witnesses on H.R. 2556.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Abercrombie follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. NEIL ABERCROMBIE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF HAWAII
Thank you for yielding to me to speak in support of H.R.2376.
I am pleased to be a cosponsor this bill and I urge the Subcommittee to report the bill to full Committee expeditiously.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, since its establishment by Congress in 1984, has leveraged millions of dollars in private sector funds and applied them to important projects to further the conservation and management of the fish, wildlife and plant resources of our nation. For example, most recently, the Foundation has in Hawaii focused and funded projects in support of coral reefs, such as providing high storage capacity computer and software to establish a Hawaii Coral Reef Network. It has funded extensive coral reef education programs, seminars and training sessions. The reefs are an invaluable Hawaiian resource and the Foundation is stepping up to help mobilize resources and provide funds for technical projects in support of protection efforts.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Foundation has over the last 15 years established a solid reputation for identifying and supporting habitat conservation, environmental education and natural resource management in a responsible and constructive manner. Millions of Americans have benefited directly or indirectly from its projects, including the North American Wetlands Partnership, the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Initiative, the Conservation Education Initiative. Of particular interest to me is the Fisheries Conservation and Management Initiative designed to support efforts to halt the decline in inland and marine fisheries.
503 projects have been funded by the Initiative. One example is identifying supporting development of sustainable economic alternatives for fishermen and their families in the Northwest Atlantic region as groundfish stocks have declined.
Mr. Chairman, the Foundation has provided strong leadership in bringing corporate, private and public sector together to bear on solving and managing wildlife and marine resources.
The foundation has been in the forefront of developing public/private partnerships as a mechanism for addressing the problems and issues over which this Subcommittee has jurisdiction.
I commend the Foundation for its leadership, and I urge the Subcommittee to expeditiously approve H.R. 2376.
Mr. SAXTON. So now let me introduce our witnesses.
First, our colleague John Tanner, the gentleman from Tennessee who is also the co-chairman of the Sportsmen's Caucuswelcome, John, to our hearing this morning.
And also, we have with us Mr. Don Barry, who is Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for the Department of Interior. Welcome, Mr. Barry.
Mr. Tanner, you may begin as you feel comfortable.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF HON. JOHN TANNER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TENNESSEE
Mr. TANNER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and
I'd like to thank you and Mr. Tauzin for allowing me to participate today.
I'd like to make a few brief comments about why I think we should reauthorize the North American Conservation Act, and then submit my intended testimony for the record, with your permission.
As you know, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan was implemented in 1986, but it lacked a stable program of funding incentives to help pay for the habitat conservation needed to meet the waterfowl plan's goals. The vision was simple: Stimulate public/private partnerships, leveraging limited Federal resources with funding from various state agencies and private conservation organizations, like Ducks Unlimited and others, to restore and enhance millions of acres of habitat for migratory birds.
With that, the North American Wetlands Conservation Program was enacted eight years ago. For every Federal dollar invested in habitat through this act, $2 are generated from states and private conservation organizations. Nowhere is the impact of the act more visible than in Tennessee. Four million dollars in seed money has led to a non-Federal conservation investment in Tennessee of more than $10 million. Gary Meyers, a friend of mine who is the executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, is pursuing now several innovative conservative projects relying on the money available through the Act.
One of those projects that I must mention is a ground-breaking habitat project known as the Mississippi Alluvial Valley Habitat Project. The TWRA and 16 partners are working to conserve nearly 14,000 acres of bottom-land habitat. What makes this unique is that it integrates the goals of the Waterfowl Plan with those of Partners in Flight for the first time ever. This is one example that has been made possible through the actions of the Congress in this regard.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Clearly, we all share responsibility for the stewardship of America's fish, wildlife, and migratory birds. This act is evidence, I think, that we take that responsibility seriously, and I'd like to recommend it.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Tanner follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN TANNER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TENNESSEE
Chairman Saxton, Mr. Abercrombie, Members of the Subcommittee, distinguished guests, I want to thank each of you for the time, interest, and energy, you have dedicated to conserving, restoring, and enhancing America's wildlife and its habitats.
I appreciate the opportunity you have given me here today to strongly endorse reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) with its current annual funding level of $30 million and the conservation partnerships that continue to grow from it. Today I want to talk about the positive results we've seen from those partnerships not only nationally, but in Tennessee and throughout the Lower Mississippi Valley.
The Act and its conservation partnerships are working in Tennessee and all across America. As a Tennessee waterfowler, I need only tell you that this year's Mid-Winter Survey in the Mississippi Flyway found more ducks in Tennessee than Arkansas for the first time since 1955. A good part of the reason for that kind of success is the improving habitat conditions that the North American Wetlands Conservation Act has made possible relying on public-private partnerships.
As many of you know, during the mid-1980s waterfowl numbers began to decrease because of both declining habitat conditions and dry weather across much of the critical northern breeding grounds. Recognizing those disturbing trends, sportsmen, conservation and wildlife organizations, and state and Federal migratory bird managers worked together with government agencies and established the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP). In 1986, the United States and Canada began implementing the NAWMP as a blueprint to protect and restore wetland ecosystems upon which waterfowl rely. Mexico became a full partner with the Plan's 1994 Update, and the 1998 Update is expected to be finalized by May 1998.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC State and Federal migratory bird managers set ambitious goals for the NAWMP. Through the creation of 13 Joint Ventures, they wanted to conserve and restore at least six million acres of quality wetland habitat for waterfowl that would support a breeding duck population of 62 million ducks and a Fall Flight of 100 million ducks with average weather conditions by the year 2000.
But the NAWMP lacked a stable, reasonably consistent program of funding incentives to help pay for the habitat conservation required to meet the goals of the NAWMP.
So in 1989 America's sportsmen and women and a wide array of conservation organizations worked closely with the Congress to unanimously adopt the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. President Bush wasted little time signing the bill into law. The President, the Congress, and others understood then the fiscal and environmental value of non-regulatory partnerships to get the most out of limited Federal resources.
The vision behind it was simple: Stimulate public-private partnerships leveraging limited Federal resources with various private stakeholders to protect restore and enhance a diversity of habitat for migratory birds consistent with the goals of the NAWMP.
First, the Act established a competitive grants program managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Second, the Act established the North American Wetlands Conservation Council to review and recommend wetland conservation projects that are ultimately approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, which includes two House members, two Senators, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture. So the Congress has a role in deciding which projects are funded. Finally, it established a fund that relies on an annual appropriation, money from a coastal wetland fund, and the interest that accrues to the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund.
Earlier this year The Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus led an effort to secure strong bipartisan support for higher funding allocations to the wetland conservation fund with the signatures of more than 100 House members on a letter written by Reps. John Dingell and Curt Weldon. With the active support of The Sportsmen's Caucus, House and Senate appropriators this month agreed to allocate $11.7 million to fund the NAWCA for the fiscal year that began October 1. That's nearly $2 million over last year's allocation and it represents a strong committment by many in the Congress to ensure the continued viability of the Act as we work toward meeting the goals of the NAWMP by the year 2000.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As a co-chair of The Sportsmen's Caucus, I'm here today to tell you that the Act is working and there is evidence in every region of the country.
In the United States alone, $137 million in Federal funds under the Act have been leveraged with $318 million in private funding from nearly 600 partners to launch 260 projects in 45 states. More than 700 partners in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, have leveraged $208 million from the Act with $428 million to conserve more than 10 million acres of wetland habitat up and down the four Flyway corridors.
Every Federal dollar invested in habitat conservation under NAWCA, generates another two dollars in state, local, and private investment, for habitat work. Clearly, we are realizing significant benefits from our limited Federal investment.
This year's annual survey recorded nearly 43 million breeding ducks in key nesting areas, the highest level since the survey began in 1955. This year's Fall Flight is expected to exceed 92 million ducks, and breeding populations for eight of the 10 major duck species are increasing.
Clearly, our waterfowlers are fortunate to call the southern region of The Mississippi Flyway home.
No where is the impact of the Act more visible than in Tennessee and the Lower Mississippi Valley where some of the most innovative conservation initiatives are under way in the Mississippi Flyway because of partnerships encouraged under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.
One of the NAWMP's 13 Joint Ventures is the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture, which includes virtually all of the congressional district that I represent.
Since the LMV Joint Venture was launched in 1989, 27 new state wildlife management areas covering more than 93,000 acres have been created, and 22 other state wildlife management areas have been expanded by 39,000 acres. In addition, seven new National Wildlife Refuges covering 68,000 acres have been established, and 15 others have been expanded by more than 163,000 acres. Another 63,000 acres of wetland habitat has been restored and enhanced on other state and Federal management lands. NAWCA has made $18 million available for habitat conservation in the LMV Joint Venture leading to $36 million in non-Federal partner contributions.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Perhaps the most significant contribution has been the involvement of more than 2,000 private landowners who have joined forces with the region's fish and wildlife agencies, sportsmen, and conservation organizations to voluntarily restore and enhance 140,000 acres.
In Tennessee alone, eight projects that depend on NAWCA funding are either complete or underway including the establishment of the Cold Creek Waterfowl Refuge in Lauderdale County, Tennessee, that we dedicated just this past August. The Act has provided $4.1 million as seed money for those projects and that Federal investment has generated more than $10 million in additional funds to make these conservation projects possible.
One of those projects is the Mississippi Alluvial Valley Habitat Project. It's the brainchild of Gary Myers, the executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and a long-time friend who is one of this country's most innovative state fish and wildlife directors. Gary and the TWRA last year launched this precedent-setting project that will ultimately include nearly 14,000 acres of bottomland habitat along the Lower Mississippi River. With $1.5 million in NAWCA funds approved last year and in hand, state and private partners kicked in another $2.44 million needed to complete the project.
What makes-this ground-breaking project so unique is that for the first time ever, Gary, the TWRA, and 16 other agencies and private partners he has assembled, are seeking to integrate the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan with the goals of Partners In Flight (PIF). PIF is in many ways emerging as a companion management plan to the NAWMP that focuses on non-game migratory birds that winter in the tropics and nest in the United States and Canada.
The MAV Habitat Project is the only one of its kind and it recognizes the basic fact that sound habitat conservation, restoration, and enhancement, benefits all migratory birds as well as many species of wildlife. This is happening with the support and active involvement of local farmers. NAWCA funds are making it happen.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Clearly, without NAWCA and the creative public-private partnerships it promotes, much of this habitat conservation would not be possible. So it is critically important that we continue to make conservation funding available through this Act. It's not the only cost-share program managed by the Federal Government, but it surely is one of the most successful with benefits that go well beyond the Act's original goals.
Indeed, over the past eight years we've learned that the Act's conservation successes reach far beyond ducks and their habitat. Freshwater fisheries and many wildlife species benefit tremendously from healthy wetland ecosystems that are the result of the kind of habitat conservation made possible by this Act. Healthy wetlands also mitigate flooding and the damaging effects of soil erosion not-to-mention playing a major role in the replenishing and purification of ground and surface water by filtering out pollutants. That's important particularly in West Tennessee where cities like Memphis rely solely on ground water aquifers for their drinking water.
The Act enjoys the support of many Members of Congress, the Administration, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and many conservation organizations led by Ducks Unlimited.
And if you don't believe this kind of habitat conservation is important to our economy as well as wildlife, fish, and the environment, just look at this year's National Survey of Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. In 1996, America's 14 million hunters spent $21 billion and 35 million anglers spent $38 billion pursuing the twin traditions of hunting and fishing. Another 63 million Americans spent $31 billion observing and photographing wildlife. In Tennessee alone, hunting, fishing, and wildlife observation activities pumped nearly $1.8 billion into the state's economy creating thousands of jobs for our citizens.
That economic investment would not happen without the kind of solid habitat conservation made possible in large part by the partnership funds available through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act with the help of America's sportsmen and women.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thomas Jefferson once said, ''The strength and dignity of a nation are determined by how it cares for its resources.'' With that I would encourage the Subcommittee to reauthorize the Act along with its annual authorized funding level of $30 million to ensure that sound wetland conservation initiatives can continue to be funded into the 21st Century.
For decades we've known that sound habitat conservation and restoration is the only way to truly ensure that we can pass from one generation to the next the American traditions of hunting, fishing, and conservation. Because in the end we all share responsibility for the stewardship of America's wildlife, migratory birds, and fisheries.
Again, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to participate in today's hearing. If I or The Sportsmen's Caucus can be of additional assistance on this or any other hunting, fishing, and conservation issues please let us know.
LETTER SUBMITTED BY THE TENNESSEE WILDLIFE RESOURCES AGENCY
October 16, 1997
Dear Mr. Chairman:
There have been numerous wetland conservation projects conserved, restored and enhanced as the result of North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) appropriations. Another very positive attribute has been the strong support of private partners contributing $2 for every $1 of appropriations. NAWCA has proven to be a successful, proactive, non-contentious wildlife conservation program that a large cross section of entities support.
Annual requests for NAWCA grants exceed available funding. For example, in FY '97, project requests were more than $41 million. Over the last three years, NAWCA appropriations have incrementally increased to meet this growing demand for wetland conservation projects. NAWCA is currently authorized at $30 million. However, the recently introduced legislation reduces the authorized funding level to $15 million. Now is not the time to hamper NAWCA's growth and diminish the program's investment in wetlands conservation. NAWCA is an incentive based, landowner friendly program that fosters the development of partnerships to protect North America's migratory bird habitat in a continental undertaking.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency very strongly supports NAWCA and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) and ask for your support for continued authorization of $30 million per year towards this conservation effort.
Thank you for your support and commitment to wetlands and wildlife conservation.
Gary T. Myers
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, John, for the very articulate and concise statement.
STATEMENT OF MR. DON BARRY, ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Mr. BARRY. I, too, would like to have my formal written statement submitted for the record and just make a few oral comments, if I could.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, in 1989, when the North American Wetlands Conservation Act was moving through the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, I was a staff member at that point, working for the chairman of the committee, Walter Jones. I think for those of us that worked on this legislation, none of usalthough we were optimistic as to what it could produceever anticipated that it would be as large a success, and would have the impact that it has had.
I know that both you and Congressman Tauzin were members of that committee. I'm sure you're proud of your support of the legislation when it moved through in 1989. And I'm here to tell you, as one of the officials responsible for its implementation, the Act is achieving exactly the purposes and goals you had in mind. And so it's work well done and I would commend you for your past efforts.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me just give you a few numbers to provide you some examples as to why this has been such a success.
In the United States alone, the investment of 137 million Federal dollars has generated over $318 million in private partner funds, including state partners. We've had over 260 different projects in the United States with 577 different partners involved.
If you take a look at the overall program throughout all of North America, the investment of about 208 million Federal dollars has generated over $428 million partner funds, for a total of $636 million. We've had over 700 partners throughout the North American continent participating in the implementation of this program.
And so in times of increasing budget scarcity, I think what we're doing here is getting a program that generates money, considerable amounts of money, and more importantly, develops real partnership networks in support of the overall goal of waterfowl restoration and wetlands enhancement.
The two issues of interest to the administration under this particular bill would be raising the authorization level from $15 million to $30 million, as it had been previously. I'm informed that I believe that that idea is generally acceptable to the leadership of the committee.
We are also interested in recommending that the reauthorization for the Act go on a five-year cycle, not a four-year cycle, so it could be more in sync with the five-year planning cycle that the North American Waterfowl Management Plan is on, and that way we'll always have both the Act and the plan itself in complete harmony.
With regards to the Partnerships for Wildlife statute, this is the only federally-administered grant program for states that supports non-game species conservation. It addresses the needs that have been identified by the states. The Fish and Wildlife Service works in very close partnership with the state fish and wildlife agencies. The wildlife agencies are required to find other additional private sector funding to match their dollars, and, again, I think for the small investment that it's provided, it has been the only source of Federal funding to support state efforts to help avoid listings under the Endangered Species Act and to provide better information on non-listed species.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The one area that I would note that the Fish and Wildlife Service has brought to my attention under this particular Act, the current Act authorizes, I believe, a 4 percent assessment of administrative costs. Because the overall amount for this program has been appropriated such low levels, and since this program provides basically a very small grant, the Fish and Wildlife Service believes that the 4 percent assessment for administrative costs is inadequate to cover their actual expenses in managing the program. We would like to at least offer to work with the Committee and the Committee staff to discuss this in more detail, and to see if there is an alternative way that administrative costs can be handled for administering the program.
Last, but not least, we are talkingwe're considering a bill which would correct a technical error in one of the coastal barrier maps that occurred in 1990. This involves Florida map 35P, as it's known, and it was designed originally to include an area that's known as an otherwise protected area. Unintentionally, property which had already been developed was included within the coastal barrier unit, and this bill today would propose to correct themake a technical correction to the coastal barrier maps to correct the error that was made and to exclude an area that did not qualify originally, at the time that the original maps were developed. This administration supports the technical correction. We believe it corrects an error that we all made at the time.
And I think, just as an aside, I would like to particularly urge this Committeethis is a small bill. This is a small correction that it would make, but I would urge the Committee not to overlook it in the rush of other business that you have.
A lot of us in this town talk about private property rights and respecting private property rights, and this is a situation where we have an opportunity to correct what was clearly an administrative error in the designation of the maps, and I would just urge you to look for some opportunity to move this particular bill, so the affected landowners feel that their needs are being addressed. I don't think it would be very difficult at all to attach this as an amendment to some other proposal or something like that. And I would just urge you to not overlook and ignore this proposal merely because it seems to address the very small acreage of ground.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On balance, we support all of these bills, and I'm prepared to answer any questions that you might have. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Barry may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Barry. I have just two questionsone that relates directly to the authorization level for H.R. 2556.
As you know, the bill, as currently written, would authorize the expenditure of $15 million annually, and I propose to increase that to $30 million annually, which I think you agree with. Can we also assume that the administration will then request more than $15perhaps as much as $30million in funding for fiscal year 1999?
Mr. BARRY. Well, as you know, I would probable be dragged out of my office and shot by OMB if I would suggest, prematurely, what the administration will be including in its fiscal year 1999 proposal. I think, in all seriousness, this is the right thing to do, to increase the authorization.
What the numbers show us is that the support for the North American Act is growing constantly, and I think what we're suggesting it that if this is a five-year authorization, we should not prejudge what levels of appropriated funding will be provided and what the future levels of appropriated requests could be. And I think it's wise to give yourself that cushion to allow future administrations to increase the funding level, taking into account all of their overall competing budget needs. So I think it's a wise move and we support it.
Mr. SAXTON. I think we get it. Okay.
Mr. BARRY. So I will pick up the phone and call you the day after the President delivers his budget message, and tell you what we've asked for.
Mr. SAXTON. Some would suggest that you may be dragged out and shot if you didn't make the request.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BARRY. That's right. I'll remember that, too.
Mr. SAXTON. Let me ask another question that's related, but not as directly as my first question. We have been, collectively, quite successfulI know that there are some membersin fact, the executive director of Ducks Unlimited is here today, and we want to make sure that you know you're welcome. We are pleased you're here.
We have collectively been quite successful in helping Mother Nature to provide for a rebound in waterfowl populations. Migratory Canada geese are coming back, and there are more resident Canada geese around the shore in New Jersey than anybody ever wanted to see. The black duck population, and mallard population, and other ducks have rebounded. More cormorants are around than I ever anticipated seeing. Perhaps the most astounding species, in terms of its current population, however, is the snow goose. And it has apparently rebounded to the point where it may be eating itself, literally, out of house and home in the Arctic.
And I'm just wondering if you had any thoughts relative to this issue. There are some Members of Congress who are this very day trying to fashion, or at least talk about, some solutions to what has been described to me as a population which is about to be double what the tundra can sustain. I'm curious to know what the position of the Fish and Wildlife Service may be, or any other thoughts that you may have relative to this issue.
Mr. BARRY. Mr. Chairman, the current population levels of snow geese in this country is of significant concern to the Fish and Wildlife Service. I know that even Secretary Babbitt has received various phone call from his counterpart in Canada, other places, discussing this particular problem.
I have personally not worked on this issue myself. I have listened to other people talk about it. I know the Service is very concerned about it, as is the Secretary. What I would be more than willing to do is to have the appropriate people from the Fish and Wildlife Service come up and talk to your staff to give you an update on the status of their strategies and thinking for how to deal with the overpopulation problem.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC You're absolutely right. The snow geese, when they congregate in certain area, can have a very significant adverse impact on the habitat, especially up in the Arctic area. And the Service is assessing what some of the different options or responses might be for dealing with the overpopulation problem.
Mr. SAXTON. There seems to be two schools of thought. One school of thought is that we have a collective responsibility of trying to deal with the issue in some way, and the other school of thought is that somehow Mother Nature will take care of this on her own.
We have provided a food source for this large population when they're not in the Arctic, and then when this huge population returns to the Arctic, they apparently do so much damage to the tundra that the tundra will not recover any time in the near future. This is a problem that we in the United States have contributed to, and we must seriously look at the issue and determine whether or not to take action and what type of action we should take.
So I would certainly very much appreciateactually, before we leave at the end of this session, I would really like to have some serious discussion with your folks relative to this, to see if we can agree from the administration point of view, as well as from the Subcommittee's point of view, what we ought to do.
Mr. BARRY. Mr. Chairman, as soon as I get back to the Department, I will convey to them your request for a meeting to discuss the current situation and I will make sure it takes place.
Mr. SAXTON. I appreciate that very much.
Mr. TANNER. Chairman, the Chair is quite correct. The migratory waterfowl population has recovered. The Mississippi flyway, which is where I have to liveBilly lives on downriver in Memphisis experiencing a remarkable recovery in the number of quality game birds: ducks, geese, and so on.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are aware of the snow goose in the Sportsmen's Caucus and we would like to be of any help that the Chair would desire from us at the proper time, and when all this takes place, be anxious to lend whatever assistance.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much. Mr. Tauzin?
Mr. TAUZIN. I was going to tell you, John, it's ''snow'' big secret. You've got to take some of the ''snow'' hunting signs down.
Mr. TAUZIN. In any event, we had a similar problems with alligators, by the way. When I first got here in 1980, alligators were on the endangered species list. My first visit to the Secretary of the Interior was a simple request: Either take them off or put Cajuns on, because there were more of them than us.
Mr. TAUZIN. And I was in the marsh with a friend who is here with me today, Billy Coyle from Tarragone Parish. When we were there a couple weeks ago, end of July, I've never seen so many alligators. We no longer have a nutria problem in Louisiana.
Mr. TAUZIN. It's amazing. I mean, we do affect sometimes unintended consequences with some of our conservation efforts and, while they're all well intended, obviously, we have to sort of react when things get out of hand. I don't know if we can just leave it to Mother Nature, or whether we have to seriously think about the consequences we helped create, sometimes a damaged habitat for other species, and we got a problem here.
I wanted to make just one point and then ask a couple of questions of you. The first is, as John pointed out, something's working and I want to thank you for your comments about the act.
I think the Act has contributed and I think a lot of other good conservation efforts have all contributed to some of the best flyway numbers I've ever seen. I mean, we get reports in Louisiana, John, that this is the best hatching year that is on record in terms of duck populations and geese populations.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. TANNER. I heard over 10 years ago, they said there was an estimated 40 million ducks on the Mississippi flyway, and this year they are saying it'll be a 100 million.
Mr. TAUZIN. Yes, some remarkable numbers, and we're beginning to see those reports now coming from our home districts, and so something's working. And we have a lot, I guess, to be thankful for and that, in fact, we have something working.
What I love about this approach, of course, is that, you know, we've had these property rights fights. They'll go on, I'm sure. But this approach is so right because it calls upon the purchase of easements and the setting aside of critical areas, by purchasing them for the general public's benefit and for the protection of the species in conservation, which avoids the ugly fight between the property owners and conservationists over how best to protect these areas, and naturally, accommodates very well to the property interest and to the interest of conservation. That's a good approach and I want to commend all of you who helped support it and push it forward.
I do have a couple questions, and maybe you can help me. What is the criteria for deciding whether a project qualifies under the act? Who's involved in setting, in effect, making those decisions?
Mr. BARRY. There is a statute itself that sets out some general criteria. I think there are about seven of them, and the North American Wetlands Council has developed some additional guidance to provide criteria for the selection of projects.
They range from the logical one about how the proposal contributes to the conservation of waterfowl habitat to other factors as well: whether it benefits other wetland-dependant or wetland-associated migratory birds; whether the proposal would contribute to the long-term conservation of wetlands and associated habitats; whether it provides any benefit to endangered, or threatened, or candidate or proposed for list of endangered species; the partnership opportunities, whether it would involve a large number of people or just one or two people.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So there are about seven criteria that the North American Wetlands Council uses, in addition to the statutory criteria or the further embellishment of the statutory criteria. And it's through consideration and ultimate ranking of all of those criteria that you'll decide which projects it can go with.
The problem is, that there are many more projects proposed than they have money for, and so they need to rank them and make some very tough decisions.
Mr. TAUZIN. Yes. Are there any non-game wildlife conservation projects funded the Partnerships for Wildlife Act, do you know?
Mr. BARRY. There are a number of non-game proposals. Let me put it this way: There a number of projects which have significant benefits for non-game migratory birds. There a number of non-game species which are dependant upon wetlands. So to the extent that you have a well-thought-out, developed wetlands conservation initiative that may provide benefits for waterfowl, there are frequently other species as well that benefit.
Mr. TAUZIN. Sure, they're ancillary, but are there any that have no non-game components at all? Or do they all combine both the game and non-game aspect?
Mr. BARRY, Congressman. did you mean under the Partnerships of Wildlife Program or the North American?
Mr. TAUZIN. Yes, under the Partnership.
Mr. BARRY. Oh, definitely. I mean, the whole program is targeted towards non-game species.
Mr. TAUZIN. So under the Partnership Act, it is non-game. Are there non-game conservation projects funded under the other Act?
Mr. BARRY. Under the North American?
Mr. TAUZIN. Yes.
Mr. BARRY. Yes, I think the answer to that would be that there have been no projects under the North American Wetland Conservation Act which were exclusively for non-game species, but there are clearly a number of projects which have collateral benefits.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. TAUZIN. Collateral benefits?
Mr. BARRY. Exactly.
Mr. TAUZIN. Now, in defining the non-game wildlife conservation projects that are, in fact, funded under the Partnerships, can you give us some examples of what types of projects those look like?
Mr. BARRY. There have been a number of, I could probably find a list of
Mr. TAUZIN. Just give a couple of examples.
Mr. BARRY. I'll be giving Max Peterson's testimony here.
Everything from important bird areas, small mammal baseline monitoring, some programs involving studies on bats, on pond turtle, neotropical birds. There's considerable concern about the effects of our rate of loss of neotropical birds. So it's a soup-to-nuts thing. Virtually every little critter that hops, crawls, or slithers has an opportunity to be proposed by a state fish and wildlife agency for support under this program.
Mr. TAUZIN. All right. Thank you very much.
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Barry, the Fish and Wildlife Service has prepared a map to carry out the changes proposed by Congressman Deutsch. The map is now on file with the Committee. For the record, does that map place the new boundary line of FL35P so that it (a) follows the existing property line that separates the platted private property behind the homes located on the east side of Baker Road from the State conservation lands that adjoins those home lots, and does it follow the water line of the State-owned and protected property on the north side of the Harbor Island Drive and water line at the end of the full length of the lots located on Baker Drive?
Mr. BARRY. I have been instructed that the correct and proper answer is yes.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much.
Mr. SAXTON. Do you have any other questions? Any other questions, Mr. Tauzin?
I would justlet me thank you, Mr. Barry, and also Mr. Tanner, who has had to leave, for being with us today.
I would also like to note again that, as Mr. Tauzin, I know, will agree, the folks who are here with us in this room from the Fish and wildlife Service are to be commended for the great job that we've done collectively, as well as the folks that are here from Ducks Unlimited, lead by Matt Connolly today. This is a great private/public partnership success, in terms of rebuilding of the wildlife populations that we have mentioned today.
I would like to unanimous consent that the statements of Mr. Young and Mr. Abercrombie be placed in the records following Mr. Tauzin's statement.
Mr. TAUZIN. Can I object?
Mr. SAXTON. You can if you want, but you can't if you want any more bills.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much. The hearing
Mr. BARRY. I was just going to mention one thing. I will make sure that the Fish and Wildlife Service follows up immediately and sets up a meeting with you on snow goose.
Mr. SAXTON. Okay, we'll move onto our next panel, and thank you, Mr. Barry, for being here.
And the second panel is, of course, Mr. Max Peterson, executive director of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Mr. Matt Connolly, executive vice president of Ducks Unlimited, and Mr. Bill Topercer, Ocean Reef Community Association.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have also been joined also by the gentleman from the eastern shore of Maryland, Mr. Gilchrest, and we are glad he has been able to join us.
Max, you may begin at your leisure.
STATEMENT OF R. MAX PETERSON, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE AGENCIES
Mr. PETERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
You have my statement, so I'll save you some time by briefing it. Okay?
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you.
Mr. PETERSON. I'll put the entire statement in the record.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, the states, represented by the International, were original supporters of the 1989 North American Wetlands Conservation Act. As mentioned earlier, there are three of our state directors who serve on the council that ranks all the projects, along with people from other organizations.
So we have been very much involved in the North American Wetlands Conservation Act since its inception. As has been said by you and by Congressman Tauzin, I think in 1989 we didn't really realize how successful this program could be, because these joint ventures that were established all over the country, which were just an idea at that time, really became the engine behind this, and using the voluntary nonregulatory approaches that Congressman Gilchrest and others talked about earlier this week on the Chesapeake Bay, really became the driving force behind the remarkable things that have been accomplished by this Act.
So we certainly support the reauthorization of it. We support the increase to $30 million in the authorization level. We support the five-year cycle which coincides with the plan.
I have in my testimony some statistics which mostly have been covered by Acting Assistant Secretary Don Barry earlier. So I won't repeat them, except to say that there are projects in almost every State in the Unionyou're familiar with the projects around Cape May in your own State, where, in answer to earlier questions, when you do some work for wetland projects there, you benefit both game and non-game. In fact, some of the beneficiaries there have been not only waterfowl, but a large variety of other migratory birds which use that area. And even areas like North Dakota, which is an important waterfowl area, some of the most important beneficiaries have been non-game species.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So this makes it, in our view, a model program, where the private sector multiplies the money. The states provide in many cases the match, or at least part of the match. I think the summary of this, I would say, is that if we had more programs like this, where we use the voluntary, nonregulatory, incentive-based approach for getting things done, we could see some remarkable things happen throughout the land.
Let me, then, turn briefly to the other Act, the reauthorization of the Partnership for Wildlife Act, which, as indicated earlier, does concentrate on non-game species. It does require both a state match and a private match. So $1 starts out and it becomes $3, which is exactly what happens also in the North American Act; it becomes $3.
It does, though, in this case, by only providing a million dollars, it's really a drop in the bucket, because the needs out there, as you are aware, Mr. Chairman, our needs analysis for non-game indicates that about $350 million a year is needed, not $1 million. But, still this little $1 million, which becomes $3 million, is an important start in doing things for non-game. So we support its reauthorization. We would ask that you increase the reauthorization to $6.5 million, so that we might see this grow some over time.
Mr. Chairman, that's a kind of quick summary of my testimony, and I'll be glad to help answer questions later. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Peterson may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very, Max.
STATEMENT OF MATTHEW B. CONNOLLY, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, DUCKS UNLIMITED, INC.
Mr. CONNOLLY. Yes, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much. We deeply appreciate this opportunity to express the opinions of Ducks Unlimited concerning the reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I won't belabor the subject because I fully expect my mother to come in the door and cut up a big apple pie for us here. It seems like everyone has been comforted by what has happened in the past 10 years, and I don't think we can rest on our laurels, but I think there's a great deal to be proud of here.
We have a program that has in its origins a bottoms-up process. Projects come to us from the grassroots level. There is a participatory process that's done through volunteers on the staff of the Wetlands Council that are provided by state agencies, by the Federal Government, by not-for-profits. This has attracted the support of Fortune 500 corporations. It has had a Boy Scout, an Eagle Scout, come and propose a project to be funded, and has been funded.
What it has as a great virtue is its flexibility. It has no burdensome bureaucracy. It has this bottoms-up process that I think has given it great, great value with the money that the Congress has invested on behalf of the American people. And I don't think we can overstate how it has caused creativity in partnerships across the country.
State and Federal agencies often in the past a decade ago had a certain antagonistic relationship. There is no longer that kind of a relationship. This serves as a catalyst, and it serves most beautifully by identifying an opportunity in the form of a project, and at that grassroots level, in a voluntary way, people come together with a common spirit, and the value here is this kick-starts them. They know there's a place to go.
Now the question was asked by Congressman Tauzin: Who participates in the selection? And a body that we've forgotten about who actually makes the final decision is the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, which has four Members of the Congress participate in that. This is a program that has a continuing input on the part of Members of the Congress. In the House, Congressman Weldon and Congressman Dingell participate in this process. They are the final deciders on what is funded.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So without being repetitive, I must tell you that this has just been so important, and if we can take any indicator of has it worked, let us look to a very neutral source; we don't need scientists; we don't need computer programs; we don't need to build models. As we've heard stated, what we have is waterfowl 10 years ago, that there were species were saying were going to have to be listed as endangered at record lows, and now the highest number ever counted by the Fish and Wildlife Service in its surveying recordsthe birds, the resource speaks. Is it working? Indeed, it is. And I thank you and the Subcommittee for the wisdom that you've shown in the past in making it work. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Connolly may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Connolly.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM E. TOPERCER, OCEAN REED COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
Mr. TOPERCER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Bill Topercer, and I'm a homeowner in Key Largo, Florida. On behalf of the Ocean Reef Community Association, and our many aggrieved homeowners, I want to thank you and the members of the Subcommittee for inviting me to testify on H.R. 2401.
H.R. 2401 makes a technical correction to the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, CBRA, withdrawing 11.7 erroneously included acres from FL35P of the Coastal Barrier Resources System. Similarly, it provides an opportunity to add 3.2 acres that were accidentally left the unit boundaries were first mapped out.
By way of background, Ocean Reef Complex is a residential community designed in 1974. The master plan was approved by Monroe County and the State of Florida in 1976, has been in existence for over 20 years and is the home to almost 3,000 people.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Back in 1987, when the Department of Interior was reviewing properties in the Florida Keys for addition to the systems, representatives of Ocean Reef came to Washington to meet with officials of the Coastal Barrier Study Group. They were told that because Ocean Reef Complex was already developed according to the guidelines set forth in the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, that Ocean Reef would be excluded from the Coastal Barrier Resource System. In fact, when the Coastal Barrier Study Group made its final recommendations to the Secretary in 1988, all of Ocean Reef was excluded. Similarly, the Secretary's recommendations to Congress excluded all of Ocean Reef. However, in 1990, the Department of Interior reviewed the existing coastal barrier maps in order to add otherwise protected areas, or OPAs, to the system under the Coastal Barrier Improvement Act of 1990, better known as CBIA.
Section 2(c) of the CBIA defines that OPA in the original Act is an undeveloped coastal barrier within the boundaries of an area established under Federal, state, or local law, or held by a qualified organization primarily for wildlife refuge, sanctuary, recreational, or natural resource conservation purposes. Essentially, an OPA is either public property or property held by a nonprofit organization for conservation purposes.
When the Fish and Wildlife Service drew the boundaries depicting what was intended to have been the undeveloped public property included in FL35P, they accidentally included 21 lots and 11.7 acres of private property that is part of the Ocean Reef development. This property was erroneously included in FL35P and should be removed.
OPAs are not supposed to include private property unless the property was an inholding within the established refuge, park, or sanctuary. Our property is not an inholding. It was, and remains, completely privately-owned property not within the boundaries of any park, refuge, or sanctuary, and therefore, should not have been included in the OPA.
For your reference, I've brought with me a 1980 aerial photo from which you can easily see both the 21 lots and 9 homes that existed prior to 1990 in FL35P of the system, the small square area in the center of the map there, on the top of the center.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I will attach to my statement to be included in the record certificates of occupancy and corresponding plat maps from Monroe County Building and Zoning Department. Equally important, I will present a letter from the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledging that mistake and stating that modification of this boundary constitutes a valid technical correction which the Fish and Wildlife Service supports.
In addition to the fact that the 11.7 acres in unit FL35P were erroneously included because they are private property, it is clear that the entire Ocean Reef Complex was considered a cluster development by Fish and Wildlife Service from inception. In a 1996 letter to Senator Bob Graham of Florida, Acting Fish and Wildlife Service Director, John Rogers, distinguished Ocean Reef from any other property that was included in the system. He said, ''Ocean Reef was excluded from the system because the Service found it to be a cluster of development prior to when FL-35 was included in the system.'' Clearly, by its own admissions, which is now stated officially in two documents, the Service did not intend the Ocean Reef development ever to be included in the Coastal Barrier System.
The congressional and administrative attempt to exclude the private property in CBRA's unit FL35P is unequivocal when the relevant maps of unit 35P are reviewed side by side. It is clear that when the map lines were transcribed in the final map of 1990, they did not properly reflect the lines Congress or Fish and Wildlife Service originally drew excluding the private property.
Unit FL35P is bifurcated by the entire of the Ocean Reef Complex that was excluded as developed. It is clear from the map lines that both Congress and Fish and Wildlife intended that all of Ocean Reef was to be excluded. I would like to offer the members a chance to review the maps which are included in your map depicting both the makeup of the entire FL35P unit, so they can see how it is purposely drawn in an attempt to avoid Ocean Reef community, and second, a map of Ocean Reef, so that the members can see for themselves where these 21 lots that were included in unit FL35P lie in relation to the State-owned conservation land that makes up the rest of unit FL35P, and in relation to the rest of Ocean Reef, which is excluded. I'm confident after reviewing these maps for yourselves, you will agree this is a technical error that warrants correction.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The residents of Ocean Reef Community Association appreciate the importance of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act. CRCA has been, and continues to be, a positive force for environmental concerns in our community. We have voluntarily spent over half a million dollars on a project to restore the natural flow and improve the water qualities in the creeks of natural waterways around Ocean Reef. We started another voluntary project installing markers to protect seagrass beds by preventing motorized craft from entering the flats. We started a comprehensive recycling program which includes glass, paper, aluminum, plastic, newspapers, tires, batteries, cardboard, and white items such as refrigerators, stoves, and washer/dryers. We have the only tertiary sewage plant in the whole Florida Keys. We use reverse osmosis to irrigate our golf courses with desalinated water. We have, and continue to be, active supporters of the Everglades Restoration Project, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, and this year's Coral Reef Resolution. Our interests in H.R. 2401 should not and cannot be viewed as anything other than a reflection of our efforts to correct what everybody admits was a mistake from the outset.
The privately-owned residential properties in Ocean Reef were inadvertently included in FL35P, an Otherwise Protected Area of the Coastal Barrier Resources System, and as a result of that mistake, we, the homeowners, are now being denied Federal flood insurance. Even though this mistake was made in 1990, we were not even made aware of this problem until 1995, because FEMA did not re-publish the maps for Monroe County until 1995. As soon as we became aware of the mistake, we began to look for ways to fix it. Unfortunately, after meeting with Fish and Wildlife, we learned that the only way to fix this mistake was by an act of Congress.
Mr. Chairman and members of this Subcommittee, I stand before you today to ask you to please correct this mistake by supporting H.R. 2401 and allow the boundaries of CBRA's FL35P to be returned to that which Congress and the Fish and Wildlife always intended.
The legal requirements of CBRA support H.R. 2401; the Fish and Wildlife supports H.R. 2401; our Congressman, Peter Deutsch, supports H.R. 2401, as well as our two Florida Senators. We now urge the Subcommittee's support as well.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On a final note, on behalf of ORCA, I would like to thank Congressman Deutsch for his assistance in this matter. During what I realize is a very difficult and politically-sensitive time here in Washington, his support and assistance has been unwavering. That being said, in the face of such clear and convincing and non-controversial evidence, I urge the members of this Subcommittee to please allow this measure to move to markup quickly.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Topercer may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Topercer, thank you very much for taking your time to come here to articulate your view of this situation, and I might say that, because of those who have preceded you in explaining this situation to us, I think it's fair for me to say that both the administration and the members of this Subcommittee agree that a mistake was made, as you correctly point out, and that inasmuch as it does take an act of Congress to correct it, that is going to happen.
Mr. TOPERCER. Thank you, sir.
Mr. SAXTON. So we appreciate your spending your time here with us today.
Mr. Peterson and Mr. Connolly, likewise, we thank you for being here today to express your views relative to the conservation issue that you so articulately and adequately addressed. It seems to me that there is a very happy question being asked, and that is: Should we fundshould we authorize the expenditure of $15 million or $30 million? And the sentiment, I believe, from this Committee happens to be that we will authorize, I believe, $30 million on an annual basis, and as you heard me say while Don Barry was here, we hope that the administration will see fit to make a request that is something in excess of $15 million for fiscal year 1999.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That having been said, I don't have any questions relative to the bill. I would like, however, because of what is the seeming emergent nature of the snow goose problem, to ask you to comment relative to the successful growth of the population, as well as what you see ashow you define the problem in terms of a habitat problem, and also if you could comment on what you see as the courses that we might follow to address the issue.
Max, would you like to comment first on behalf of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies?
Mr. PETERSON. Yes. In a recent meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, that does include people from the United States and Canada both, we discussed this problem at some length. There is a technical committee now at work looking specifically at the options, what are the options to reduce this population. It, obviously, means less birds; we have to reduce that population, which tended to build up when there was less numbers of other birds.
And so we will have, probably within the nextI think within the next six months, we'll have a series of options that will be laid out, and we'll be glad to be sure your Committee is kept abreast of those options. One, of course, is to increase the bag limits, which has already been done this year in that flyway, to try to get some more of them taking by hunters. But that may not be adequate. So we're looking at other options. So we will be keeping your Committee fully informed of that.
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Connolly, let meyou heard Mr. Barry say that he was going to dispatch some folks who are knowledgeable about this in the Service to come and chat with us. I would like to invite you or your representatives to do likewise, so that we can work along with you in developing whatever potential solutions there may be.
And I think it's fairly important that we move as quickly as possible because there are some Members of Congress whoand I don't say this in any disparaging waywho are ready to move forward with what they perceive as the appropriate courses of action, and it seems to me that we ought to talk about these things a little bit before we rush head-long into one course or another.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I'll have our staff try to coordinate some meetings in the near term or at least a meeting, so that we can understand your points of views on these issues.
Mr. CONNOLLY. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. We would consider it a privilege and honor to participate with you and your staff, and I am deeply appreciative of your sense of urgency concerning this matter.
I think there's several points to keep in mind in this situation, and first of foremost is I think some people are beginning to presume that this is a generic snow goose problem, when in fact it's one confined to certain snow geese populations. It is not something that is in the Atlantic flyway nor in the Pacific flyway. We're talking about birds in the central part of the Nation, the ones that inhabit certain portions of the Canadian sub-Arctic region.
It's been tackled by a diverse group of participants under the leadership of the International Association, and they've had a lot of scientific studies and a lot of examinations of the various options, and there have been recommendations made to the Service. And I think having this sense of urgency by the Congress will facilitate getting a game plan in action, most importantly to me, by next year. And we have to, I think, give the American sportsmen a chance to show that expanded wildlife management opportunities may bring a resolution to this, and examine and monitor what occurs, and if that doesn't do the trick, then other matters will have to be contemplated. But I think we have to have, as in any business situation, a business plan produced, and have each of those steps monitored and analyzed every step of the way. And I think that is in motion.
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Farr and I were chatting just privately here about this issue just a few minutes ago, and just by way of question, we were wondering whether snow geese have any natural enemies, and if so, is there an issue involving the lack of such, or what's
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CONNOLLY. Well, it's a complicated problem, and it's been exacerbated by land use changes that man has created on the wintering grounds and on the staging grounds of snow geese.
Mr. SAXTON. Lots of food?
Mr. CONNOLLY. Right. Unlike ducks, where they breed is out of reach of most of man's influence other than by aboriginal peoples, and interestingly, the aboriginal peoples seem to be more attracted to the dark geese than they do the light geese, which is one of the reasons Congressman Gilchrest and his constituents are not able to go after the Canada geese, which once migrated to the eastern shore of Maryland.
So it's a very complex international wildlife problem, but I think the options that are being laid out and presented to the Fish and Wildlife Service are prudent ones that we need to get a consensus behind, roll up our sleeves, and commit to doing something about it next year.
But there have to be some expansions in what the opportunities are given to waterfowlers, and some incentives and some education that will go along with that.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you. Mr.
Mr. PETERSON. Could I add just a word?
Mr. SAXTON. Sure. Excuse me, Max. You can turn off the red light, if you don't mind. Thank you very much.
Mr. PETERSON. As Mr. Connolly has eloquently stated, this is not a problem all over. It's a problem only because of the increase in population in some areas.
In this upcoming briefing, we will ask some Canadian provinces to participate in the discussion because a large number of these snow geese, as other geese and ducks originate in Canadaso the solution probably will have to be a continental solution, not just one in the United States.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On the issue of predators, yes, they do have natural predators, but when you get a population buildup like this, predators don't increase as fast as the population increases, and also there's some limits to what predation will do in particular areas where these breed.
But that's all being looked at by the technical group that we established under the international auspices, which does include Ducks Unlimited people; it includes Fish and Wildlife Service people; it includes provincial people from Canada, and the Canadian Wildlife Service people. And I think your sense of urgency is helpful to us because we do need to say we need to move on with this and not wait for five more years of technical information.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you.
Mr. FARR. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate having this hearing.
I wanted to follow up on Mr. Peterson's comment about the non-game species needing upwards of $350 million, I think you indicated. Has there been any discussion of sources for that funding? Would the Partnership for the Wildlife Act be an appropriate vehicle for permanently appropriating a source of funding or should we have a dedicated source such as the Wild Burro Fund, or how about the idea of a non-game wildlife stamp? I mean, duck stamps have been very successful. What do you think about proposals of how you meet your need for finding funding for those purposes?
Mr. PETERSON. Congressman Farr, there is an ongoing effort I think, as you may know, that we call Team with Wildlife that would address that. We have looked at everything from a stamp of some kind to paralleling Wild Burro and Pitman-Robertson by simply expanding the current excise tax to include some additional products that would be dedicated to a third fund.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And we've meeting ongoing for the last several months with different Members of Congress. I'll be sure that we come up and brief you in detail in what we're doing on that, and we do have a proposal. We are consulting with Members of Congress about whether they would like towhat burden of that they would like to deal with, and we'll include you in the briefing for that.
Mr. FARR. Thank you. And then that would be a dedicated source, then, for those species
Mr. PETERSON. Yes, yes, exactly similar to Wild Burro and P-R in terms of being dedicated, distributed estates on a formula basis, so that the state would make the decision on how to spend it. It would be voluntary, nonregulatory, as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act is, and we believe that it would enhance the same kind of partnerships that Mr. Connolly talked about for waterfowl in the non-game area. There are a lot of people that would be interested in participating if they had a vehicle.
Mr. FARR. I appreciate that. Is your thought that you'd have this put together by the next legislative session, next year, or
Mr. PETERSON. We have it now. We would hope to see action on it next year, yes. And we'll be glad, as I say, to go over it with you in detail.
Mr. FARR. Thank you. I appreciate that.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you. The gentleman from Maryland.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have just a question or two for Mr. TopercerTopercer?
Mr. TOPERCER. Topercer.
Mr. GILCHREST. Topercerbefore I go to Max, who I see more here than I do in the Rocky Mountains.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
Mr. GILCHREST. What is different in your community under the present regulatory regime that would change with this new designation, if the designation is lifted?
Mr. TOPERCER. If it's left as it currently is?
Mr. GILCHREST. No. What's the difference between the way you are now to the way you want to become? What restrictions do you have as a community to your community?
Mr. TOPERCER. The only restrictions are for these 21 lots that are restricted and cannot get flood insurance, because the line was erroneously drawn when FL35P was incorporated.
Mr. GILCHREST. So that's it? And once that gets lifted, those 22 houses
Mr. TOPERCER. It's 21 lots total. There are currently
Mr. GILCHREST. Are there houses on those lots?
Mr. TOPERCER. Yes. At the time it was done, there were nine houses and there are now ten or eleven, I think, on there now.
Mr. GILCHREST. Oh, I see. So besides the 10 or 11 houses, the other lots would be
Mr. TOPERCER. Able to be developed, that's correct.
Mr. GILCHREST. I see. You wouldn't want them to be made into a park, so snow geese could go down there in a habitat, I guess?
Mr. TOPERCER. I haven't seen a snow goose down there, Congressman.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you. I just wanted to understand that one point.
Mr. Peterson and Mr. Connolly, sort of a colloquial little question dealing with my district. Can either one of you tell me20 years ago, you couldn't find snow geese on the eastern shore of Maryland; now there are more snow geese than honeybees in some areas. Do you know what has attracted the snow goose to the eastern shore of Maryland, to the numbers that they are there now? Is it agricultural practices; the weather's a little warmer; they've changed theirthey don't go to North Carolina?
Mr. PETERSON. There's several factors. Gary Taylor, who's from Maryland, who used to be Director of the Fish and Wildlife, is in our office, and he and I have discussed this. And several things happened. There's a tendency to build a lot of additional water developments in that part, you know, to have a lot more water. People like water on their land.
Mr. GILCHREST. Oh, I see.
Mr. PETERSON. And then there are crops around that land that are attractive to the snow geese. And we've had several mild winters, so that they don't go as far south. They hang up further north. All of those things have concentrated more snow geese on the eastern shore of Maryland, where I've hunted for about 20 years. When I first used to hunt over there, I saw ten times as many Canada geese as I did snow geese, and now the reverse is true. There's been a number of factors like that. The increase in population of snow geese, for example, is one reason you've got more of them.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you.
Mr. CONNOLLY. Let me footnote that, Congressman. It's been land use change. When many, many years ago the eastern shore of Maryland had no geese to speak of, the Chesapeake was known as a duck estuary that attracted principally diving ducks and a smattering of black ducks. With the advent of cereal grain being extensively planted in the watersheds of the Chesapeake, you
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCbegan to attract Canada geese, which were opportunistic and they fed on the cereal grain residual that was left behind in harvesting.
Snow geese, both on the tundra and on the wintering grounds, fed the same way in each place, which was to use their bills to pull up tubers and roots, and use the rich nutrients that were found in that on the tundra as well as in the salt marshes, which is where they principally fed.
As land use changed and there were more and more advents of big fields with residual grain, the snow geese suddenly saidthe light dawns on my head''It looks pretty good to me.'' And they, too, began to feed on the residual grains, and they flourished. Now the difference between the Canada goose and the snow goose isand you see this, I'm sure, in your districtthe snow geese flocks are enormous, and as such, they are much more difficult to hunt than Canada geese. Consequently, they just kind of arithmetically keep growing, because there's not many spartan souls who have the tenacity to go out and set a spread of 2,000 decoys to bring in a 15,000 flock of snow geese, as opposed to the Canada geese which are much more vulnerable.
Mr. GILCHREST. The Canada goose is much more orderly when they come in and when they leave. The snow geese are a buzz like bees the way they
Mr. PETERSON. They also spiral up. In my hunting over there, you look up and there's 10,000 snow geese, as Mr. Connolly says, there
Mr. GILCHREST. Right.
Mr. PETERSON. And they get off of the lakes, and you think, man alive, we're going to find all kinds of snow geese, and they spiral up, and lo and behold, you don't get a single shot.
Mr. GILCHREST. They make a great noise.
I have just one more quick question before we have to leave. How many acreage of tundra have been destroyed in the central flyway because of the increased numbers of snow geese? Is there a number placed on that?
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PETERSON. It's been several hundred thousand acres that have been detrimental effect on them. I don't know where you reach the point of being destroyed. But the adequacy of those tundra to support not only snow geese, but a wide variety of other kinds of critters, has been substantially reduced because of that damage.
Mr. CONNOLLY. It's almost irrevocable, Congressman, because it won't recover.
Mr. SAXTON. We're going to have to stop and go for this vote. But just let me say, to emphasize the point that Mr. Gilchrest is making, and that Mr. Peterson and Mr. Connolly are making, the snow goose population in 1976-77 was about 160,000 in the eastern flyway, according to the numbers I have here, it's now just about 600,000. So we can see that the population has grown by almost four times, a multiple of four, in that 20-year period. In the central flyway the population has grown from about 1.1 million to 2.8 million, almost tripled in that same period of time. So we really have a major issue here that's got to be somehow addressed.
Thank you very much for coming. We're going to go and get this vote. The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 2:13 p.m., the Subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]
[Additional material submitted for the record follows.]
STATEMENT OF DANIEL P. BEARD, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR PUBLIC POLICY, NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY, WASHINGTON, DC
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to testify on the reauthorization of two very important pieces of legislation.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On behalf of the National Audubon Society, we're pleased support enactment of H.R. 2556, a bill to reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and the Partnerships for Wildlife Act (PWA). Both of these laws have played a significant role in expanding habitat for birds. They are vital components of our nation's effort to prevent further degradation of habitat and to reclaim habitat that has been rendered unsuitable for birds and other wildlife by human activity.
We concur with the Administration that NAWCA should be reauthorized at the current level of $30 million per year through the year 2003.
In the seven years since it was enacted, NAWCA has proven to be an effective tool for wetlands conservation and restoration. Through the innovative use of partnerships between private citizens, corporations, native Americans, cities, states, conservation groups and the Federal Government, NAWCA has made progress toward its stated goal of ''conserv[ing] North American wetland ecosystems and waterfowl and the other migratory birds and fish and wildlife that depend on wetland habitats.''
I would like to take this opportunity make a few points concerning the use of NAWCA funds for projects related to ''other migratory birds and fish and wildlife.''
First, it is clear from the language of the statute, as well as its legislative history, that NAWCA was intended to give equal attention to both game and nongame species. In enacting NAWCA, Congress madeamong othersthe following findings regarding nongame species:
1. The maintenance of healthy populations of migratory birds in North America is dependent on the protection, restoration, and management of wetland ecosystems and other habitats in Canada, as well as in the United States and Mexico.
2. Wetland ecosystems provide essential and significant habitat for fish, shellfish, and other wildlife of commercial, recreational, scientific and aesthetic values.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC3. Almost 35 percent of all rare, threatened, and endangered species of animals are dependent on wetland ecosystems.
4. The 1988 amendments to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1980 require the Secretary of the Interior to identify conservation measures to assure that nongame migratory bird species do not reach the point at which measures of the Endangered Species Act are necessary.
Likewise, the stated purposes of NAWCA was to address both game and nongame species. The purposes of NAWCA, as stated in the law, are:
1. To protect, enhance, restore, and manage an appropriate distribution and diversity of wetland ecosystems and other habitats for migratory birds and other fish and wildlife in North America.
2. To maintain current or improved distributions of migratory bird populations.
3. To sustain an abundance of waterfowl and other migratory birds consistent with the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and the international obligations contained in the migratory bird treaties and conventions and other agreements with Canada, Mexico, and other countries.
Migratory birds are defined by NAWCA as:
''. . . [a]ll wild birds native to North America that are in an unconfined state and that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, including ducks, geese, and swans of the family Anatidae, species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and species defined as nongame under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1980.''
Funding of a wetlands project under NAWCA is, by statute, to be based on whether or not the project meets seven criteria. The legislative history indicates that ''[n]o single criterion is intended to be weighed more heavily than another with the obvious exception of the availability of sufficient non Federal money.'' One of the criteria is ''the extent to which any wetlands conservation project would aid the conservation of migratory nongame birds, other fish and wildlife and [threatened and endangered] species.''
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The legislative history of NAWCA supports and elaborates on the equal emphasis to be accorded nongame species. It is clear that the authors of PICA meant for nongame species to be given equal priority in NAWCA funding.
There are presently a large number of nongame migratory bird species dependent on wetland areas that are in decline during some phase of their lifespans. For example, the Watchlist includes, among many others, the American Bittern, Black Rail, Franklin's Gull, and the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, all of which are severely threatened by habitat degradation and loss due to the draining of wetlands for development. These birds are just four of many dozens of species that would benefit from NAWCA projects directly focused on protecting and restoring specific wetlands that support nongame migratory bird populations. Nongame migratory birds are clearly intended beneficiaries of NAWCA, and as such should receive attention.
Currently, it difficult to tell whether NAWCA-supported projects are directed at game or nongame species. The annual report on projects that the Migratory Bird Conservation Committee (MBCC) is required by the law to prepare does not contain information sufficient to identify the species being targeted by respective projects. We would request that such a description of targeted species be required in the annual NAWCA/MBCC report, and we would urge you to include such a directive in the Committee report on H.R.2556.
Section 16(a) of NAWCA requires that the Secretary of the Interior undertake an effort to establish agreements, modeled after the North American Waterfowl Management Plan or the Tripartite Agreement, specifically aimed at protecting nongame migratory birds. To the best of our knowledge, the Secretary has not undertaken any such efforts. We would ask that the Congress, in any reauthorization bill, urge the Secretary to carry out this directive.
As I mentioned earlier, NAWCA is an important component in a larger mission to protect and restore habitat. Increased attention to nongame birds, and fish and wildlife through NAWCA is an efficient way to avoid the time and expense of listing and restoring species under the Endangered Species Act. We would urge that to the extent matching funds are available, an equal priority is assigned to providing NAWCA funding for nongame species projects.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Audubon also supports the reauthorization of the Partnerships for Wildlife Act. Like NAWCA, PWA is a good example of pro-active legislation that prevents the time and expense of invoking the Endangered Species Act in order to protect species. PWA has been received enthusiastically by the public, as evidenced by the waiting list to join. This important program works not only for individual species, but also for the broader goal of creating a conservation ethic, and involving people directly in the protection of species. It is a program that gets people excited about protecting the natural world. This is clearly a worthy objective that should be supported and fully funded.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify.
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