secures $1 million grant for wetlands Julie Buckles
Nine organizations in the Chequamegon Bay region met for
eight months last year drafting a proposal called the Superior
Coastal Wetland Initiative. Last week their efforts paid
off: the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA)
awarded them nearly $1 million for projects focused on wetland
restoration and acquisition. This is in addition to $875,000
received four years ago for restoring 55 acres of wetlands
and acquiring property around the Bad River and Kakagon
"Considering the two grants, this is a large chunk of money
for this kind of focus," said Barb Spardo, the regional
joint venture coordinator. "It's really due to the partnerships."
The 1989 North American Wetlands Conservation Act provides
matching grants for migratory bird habitat restoration initiatives
on the North American continent, currently distributing
$44 million in Canada (45 percent), Mexico (five percent)
and the United States (50 percent).
The current administration favors partnerships, Spardo said.
Regional groups are catching on, creating collaborations
to move projects forward. Greg Fischer, program manager
for the Red Cliff Natural Resources Department and Fish
Hatchery, partnered with six organizations to implement
a $150,000 rehabilitation project on Red Cliff Creek. The
Natural Resources Conservation Service, for one, provided
technical expertise for developing and helping implement
a plan for the project.
This is the biggest benefit of partnerships, said Pam Dryer,
refuge manager of Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge
and the project's coordinator and grant writer. "We feed
off one another's technical expertise."
The nine organizations - from the Bad River Band to The
Nature Conservancy - contributed $1.3 million in technical
assistance and cash toward the Initiative. Wetlands only
account for 10 percent of the Lake Superior coast, but provide
critical habitat for aquatic plants, animals, fish and birds.
The Initiative hopes to acquire land, purchase easements
and restore habitat and create stream buffers, affecting
about 5,800 acres of habitat, Dryer said.
"It really is the first example of a partnership coming
together between natural resource players in Lake Superior,"
said Mike Gardner at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute,
which received $30,000 of the grant. "We're identifying
needs, coming together and getting more done on the land."
The result may mean different things to different groups
- but all benefit water quality. For instance, Ducks Unlimited
is interested in improving migratory waterfowl habitat.
Ducks, which largely drive the funding, use Lake Superior
wetlands for shelter and food during migration, as do hundreds
of other migratory birds. Wisconsin is one of our most important
states, said Richard Pierce, director of operations at the
Great Lakes and Atlantic Regional Office of Ducks Unlimited,
in Ann Arbor, Mich. Ducks Unlimited kicked in $20,000 and
received $10,000 from the NAWCA grant. "Our main business
is wetland restoration, we're naturals for this project,"
he said. "Obviously our interest is migratory waterfowl,
but this kind of work benefits all of us."
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