Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Bill to Fund Migratory Bird Conservation

Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland introduced a bill to increase funding under the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act. A similar bill was introduced in the House and Senate last year but failed to pass. Maybe Cardin's bill will fare better in the new Congress, much like the public lands bill did. It really depends on how quickly the relevant committees want to move it.

Here is some background on the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act:

NMBCA supports partnership programs to conserve birds in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean, where approximately five billion birds of over 500 species, including some of the most endangered birds in North America, spend their winters. Projects include activities that benefit bird populations such as habitat restoration, research and monitoring, law enforcement, and outreach and education. Between 2002 and 2007, the program supported 225 projects, coordinated by partners in 44 U.S. states/territories and 34 countries. Projects involving land conservation have affected about 3 million acres of bird habitat.

Staff of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report that they receive many more requests for high quality conservation projects than they can provide grants for. NMBCA currently provides a maximum authorization of $6 million per year; this year Congress is recommending an appropriation of $4.75 million, a $250 thousand increase from the previous year. Under the new law, that amount would increase to $20 million by 2015. Grants require matching funds from other non-federal sources. Thus far, more than $21 million from NMBCA grants has leveraged over $95 million in partner contributions. FWS lists 341 migratory bird species that can benefit from the program: http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NMBCA/BirdList.shtm.
Finally, here is the text of the bill.