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GLIN==> Migratory Bird Conservation Commission Approves Addition of More than 15,000acres to National Wildlife Refuge System



Note additons to Montezuma NWR in upstate New York - St. Lawrence River,
eastern Lake Ontario area.

----- Forwarded by Rich Greenwood/R3/FWS/DOI on 05/07/2001 08:40 AM -----

May 1, 2001
Rachel F. Levin 202-208-5631
<rachel_levin@fws.gov>

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved the prices for
acquisition of more than 15,000 acres of important migratory bird habitat
at its meeting in Washington, D.C., in March.  Newly acquired lands will
benefit migratory birds and other species on units of the National Wildlife
Refuge System in 12 states, from North Carolina to Washington.

The Cabinet-level commission, chaired by Interior Secretary Gale Norton,
approved funds of $15 million to acquire the land.  All acquisitions had
been previously approved by the affected states.  The 535-unit refuge
system is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"At nearly 94 million acres, our National Wildlife Refuge System remains a
world-renowned collection of lands and waters dedicated to wildlife
conservation," said Acting Service Director Marshall Jones.  "Working with
states and private partners, we will restore and enhance these new refuge
system acquisitions to protect prime habitat for waterfowl and other
migratory birds."

The Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929 established the Migratory Bird
Conservation Commission to approve land to be purchased for the National
Wildlife Refuge System with monies from the Migratory Bird Conservation
Fund.  The fund is supported by revenue collected from Federal Duck Stamp
sales, import duties collected on arms and ammunition, right-of-way
payments to the refuge system, and receipts from national wildlife refuge
entry fees.

The commission meets three times a year to approve funding proposals.
Commission members are Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who serves as chair;
Senators John Breaux and Thad Cochran; Representatives. John Dingell and
Curt Weldon; Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman; and Environmental
Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman.

During the commission's meeting on March 14, Secretary Norton acknowledged
the historic occasion of the Refuge System's 98th birthday that day, and
noted the significance of efforts to honor the upcoming centennial
anniversary of the refuge system in 2003.  She emphasized the importance of
Service efforts to take the opportunity to build public understanding and
appreciation for the refuge system, expand partnerships on its behalf, and
improve its stewardship and infrastructure.

Also at the meeting, Dan Ashe, chief of the National Wildlife Refuge
System, reinforced the Secretary's message, noting the upcoming
establishment of a Centennial Commission to oversee special commemorative
projects and products, celebratory activities, and a national conference on
the refuge system in 2003.  Members of Congress who serve on the Migratory
Bird Conservation Commission will be automatic members of the Centennial
Commission, as called for in the National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial
Act of 2000.

New National Wildlife Refuge System acquisitions approved by the
Conservation Commission are:

Arkansas: Acquisition of 4,853 acres of riparian and other wetland habitat
to protect wintering areas for migratory waterfowl within the boundaries of
Cache River NWR in Woodruff, Monroe and Prairie counties.  This area in the
Lower Mississippi River Valley supports one of the biggest concentrations
of wintering mallards in North America, and the refuge is also home to one
of the largest remaining expanses of forested wetlands in the Mississippi
Valley.

Colorado: Acquisition of 483 acres of wetlands for Monte Vista NWR in the
San Luis Valley of Colorado.  The tract to be purchased, the Parma Ranch,
will add wetland habitat to Monte Vista NWR, which is home to high
concentrations of wintering, migrating and nesting ducks.

Massachusetts: Purchase of 3 acres of seasonally emergent wetlands near the
Sudbury River within the approved boundaries of Great Meadows NWR.  This
tract provides important habitat for waterfowl, migrant songbirds and
wading birds; in addition, the riverside acquisition will help protect
water quality on the Sudbury, which supports a diverse array of fish,
amphibians and reptiles.  Located just west of Boston, Great Meadows NWR
comprises more than 80 percent freshwater wetlands that serve as an oasis
for waterfowl during migration.

Louisiana: Purchase of 8,115 acres northeast of Catahoula NWR.  Known as
"Bushley Bayou," this tract was once vast, unspoiled bottomland hardwood
but today consists of abandoned farm ground, pasture, woods, pond and
lakes.  The area provides migration habitat for shorebirds and migratory
waterfowl, and year-round habitat for wading birds.  Acquisition of Bushley
Bayou will also allow the Service to expand public use on the refuge,
including possible development of waterfowl hunting.

New Jersey: Purchase of a total of 106 acres--in three separate tracts--of
rich coastal wetlands on Cape May NWR, 30 miles southwest of Atlantic City,
along the New Jersey shore in the Delaware Bay.  These three tracts are
important components of the Cape May wetland complex and will serve as both
habitat and food sources for migratory waterfowl.

New Jersey: Acquisition of 32 acres within the established boundaries of
Edwin B. Forsythe NWR near Atlantic City.  Newly acquired lands will
protect habitat used by an abundance of waterfowl, including more than a
third of the Atlantic Flyway population of black ducks, and 70 percent of
the flyway's Atlantic brant population.

New York: Purchase of 82 acres within the boundaries of Montezuma NWR, 35
miles west of Syracuse in upstate New York.  The two parcels purchased will
protect and enhance nesting, feeding and resting habitat for migratory
birds such as Canada geese, mallards, and diving ducks.  Montezuma NWR is
also home to several pairs of threatened bald eagles.

North Carolina/Virginia: Acquisition of three tracts totaling 92 acres
within the previously approved boundaries of Mackay Island NWR, near the
Virginia-North Carolina border in the Currituck Sound area.  The purchases
will provide high quality habitat for migratory waterfowl, especially
greater snow geese, which winter in large concentrations on Mackay Island.

Oregon: Purchase of 703 acres to be added to Malheur NWR in Burns, Oregon,
some 130 miles southeast of Bend.  This land will be added to Malheur, one
of the nation's oldest national wildlife refuges established for migratory
birds, as prime nesting habitat for Canada geese, canvasbacks, dabbling
ducks and redheads.

Tennessee: Purchase of 643 acres for Chickasaw NWR in Lauderdale County,
about 50 miles north of Memphis, to preserve and protect habitat for
waterfowl and other migratory birds.  The two tracts approved for purchase
will be restored to native bottomland hardwood forest, and will serve as
habitat for neotropical birds, mallards, wood ducks and other waterfowl.

Virginia: Addition of 280 acres to Rappahannock River Valley NWR in
southeastern Virginia along the Rappahannock River.  The river and its
adjacent marshes and waters are some of the area's most productive
wetlands, supporting bitterns, herons, wood thrushes and other birds, as
well as a number of wetland plant species.  Bald eagles and osprey nest and
feed throughout the river valley.

Washington: Purchase of 189 acres to be added to Nisqually NWR in western
Washington State, 10 miles east of the state capital, Olympia, and just
south of Puget Sound.  Located within the Pacific Flyway, the area to be
acquired is one of the largest undisturbed freshwater wetland systems in
the Puget Sound area.  The area will be managed for the benefit of
migratory birds as well as salmon.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission also approved 37 grants that
will foster wetland restoration, protection and enhancement projects in
Canada, Mexico and the United States under the auspices of the North
American Wetlands Conservation Act.  Grant funds of nearly $25 million will
be combined with $137 million in partnership money.  The commission acts as
overseer for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands
of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70
national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological
services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws,
administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations,
restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife
habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their
conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that
distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and
hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

                                  - FWS -

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,visit our
home page at http://www.fws.gov

**************************************************************************************

News releases are also available on the World Wide Web at
http://news.fws.gov




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