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MIKE BRAUN Programs that help waterfowl need aid



Published: Sun, May 13, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



There is legislation brewing in the U.S. Congress that bears watching by, and possibly some assistance from, U.S. sportsmen.

The legislation in question would have a positive impact on two programs -- both facing imminent termination -- that form the basis for the tremendous recovery made by waterfowl in the United States over the past decade.

The two programs, the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program, have been central in saving vital waterfowl and wildlife habitat while at the same time assisting the country's farms and farmers.

Retiring farmland: CRP helped conserve farmland by paying farmers to retire marginal croplands from production for 10 years. It helped to create millions of acres of prime upland cover, conversely also protecting waterfowl nesting sites from predators and boosting nesting success dramatically.

WRP, a voluntary program, allowed farmers to protect wetlands on their property.

Both programs are now near the end of their run. The legislation I mentioned earlier asks that congress support the legislation necessary to continue these two programs.

The three bills introduced include one by Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark., that is similar to a House bill introduced by Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss.

These two pieces of legislation would expand the caps on the WRP program that threaten to render it useless.

Meanwhile, legislation to expand the CRP program had been introduced by Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn. This program is also close to running out.

Behind the effort: Conservation groups backing this effort include Ducks Unlimited, The International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Management Institute, Texas Wildlife Association, the National Rifle Association, the Izaak Walton League of America, and the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, in supporting the CRP and WRP expansion bills.

If you'd like to get more information on these important programs and what role you can play in helping them survive, call (901) 758-3859 or (202) 347-1530 or visit the Ducks Unlimited Web site at www.ducks.org/news/ag_legislation.asp.




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