Multiplying Federal Investments in Wetlands Habitat
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) has helped to fund over 2,200 projects protecting more than 26 million acres of wetland and wildlife habitat in all 50 states, as well as Canada and Mexico. But we could lose this successful program if Congress doesn’t act to reauthorize it!
With matching contributions that multiply federal investments, NAWCA funds the protection and restoration of wetland habitat for migratory birds and related upland habitat. The act was first passed in 1989 to incentivize non-federal investments in wetlands conservation — and it is highly effective at doing so. NAWCA funding must be matched at least dollar for dollar by non-federal sources. In fact, the grants are so competitive that the average project brings in $3.20 of matching funds for every federal dollar.
Wetlands habitat conservation is vital for migratory birds and other wildlife. It also strengthens our economy. Each year, NAWCA-funded conservation and restoration projects support 7,500 jobs; employing people as construction contractors, landscapers, biologists, conservation experts, engineers, and supply retailers. In addition, the protected habitats draw people for recreational activities — such as hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, and photography — that generate billions of dollars every year. On top of that, wetlands provide natural services that we rely on for clean, plentiful water supplies. And they protect property by absorbing water from floods and storm surges.
See national and state fact sheets on the impact of NAWCA.
A Program in Peril
Unfortunately, NAWCA expired in 2012! For now, the program continues to receive appropriations, but its future is precarious unless Congress acts to reauthorize it. Legislation to reauthorize the program has failed to pass. However, we anticipate similar legislation to be introduced in the 115th congress.
Grants for Habitat Conservation
Got wetlands? NAWCA grants are available for organizations and individuals to acquire, restore, or enhance habitat for the benefit of migratory birds associated with wetlands. Grants are available in two categories:
- Standard grants of up to $1 million are available for projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
- Small grants of up to $75,000 are available only in the United States for activities that are smaller in scope, with priority given to first-time NAWCA grantees.
NAWCA is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You can find the grant guidelines on their website.