Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Federal funds for Gulf Coast wetlands

The Department of the Interior allotted $256 million to restore wetlands in national wildlife refuges, rebuild facilities and begin hurricane recovery projects.

Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said, “We stand with the people of Louisiana and other Gulf states as they seek to rebuild their communities and restore their coastal ecosystems. This includes providing new funding to restore national wildlife refuges, national parks and other Interior facilities in Gulf Coast states that were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.”

Secretary Kempthorne visits Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans.

Kempthorne said wetland restoration is important to the regions's people and wildlife. “More than 118 square miles of coastal wetlands and marshes on the southeastern Louisiana coast were turned into open water by the storms,” he said. “The damage to this coastal ecosystem has accelerated wetland losses, endangering communities across the coast and threatening nationally significant fish and wildlife resources and important on-shore facilities.”

Louisiana contains 45 percent of the country's coastal wetlands, including 10 NWRs and one national park. “Our national wildlife refuges and national parks contribute to the larger solution by restoring their levees, clearing their marshes and wetlands of debris, and working with state and local partners on long-term, common-sense solutions to halt the accelerated loss of coastal wetlands,” Kempthorne said.

So, think we'll see evidence of those funds during the American Birding Association's annual convention in Lafayette, La., next April?


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