20080415_DUBlackhorizontalWASHINGTON –  The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a bill to enhance the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and improve continental conservation efforts. Ducks Unlimited supports the measure, which would allow more Canadian investment into the program. The program conserves habitat in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

“The North American Wetlands Conservation Act continues to be one of the great success stories of conservation,” said Ducks Unlimited Senior Group Manager for Conservation Dr. Alan Wentz. “In the 20 years of the program more than 25 million acres of habitat have been conserved. Enacting this bill will help foster future success.”

The House of Representatives passed the bill in October. The measure will now go to the President to be signed into law.

The program has a unique nature, which requires a dollar for match from state and local governments, non-profit groups like Ducks Unlimited, or community groups for each dollar awarded in federal grants. Because projects are so popular, the federal dollars often leverage 2-3 times the grant in matching funds. More than $1 billion in grants has leveraged more than $3 billion in matching and non-matching funds.

The bill will allow for funds raised in Canada to be used to fulfill the matching requirement for projects that take place in Canada. Previously, Canadian contributions did not count towards the required match for projects. The change is also supported by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, which is the panel that administers the North American Wetlands Conservation Act program. Dr. Wentz also serves on the Council.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest, most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization and has conserved more than 12 million acres. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands − nature’s most productive ecosystem − and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres important to waterfowl each year.