Tuesday, December 29, 2009

$19.2M federal dollars for coastal conservation

More than 20 conservation projects in 11 states will receive almost $20 million to buy and repair coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands, said the U.S. Fish & Wildlife today. The federal funds -- plus almost $26 million from private landowners, state and local governments, and conservation groups -- will affect more than 6,100 acres and the myriad wildlife that live on them.

The 11 states range from the Pacific Northwest to New England -- Washington, Oregon, California, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts and Maine -- and include two Great Lakes states: Illinois and Wisconsin. As part of the 2010 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, the funds come from Sport Fish Restoration Act revenue generated by an excise tax on fishing equipment and motorboat and small engine fuels.

Descriptions of the conservation projects appear here. An example in Massachusetts:
Madsen-Ridge Conservation Easement Great Marsh Estuary: The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, partnering with the Great Marsh Land Protection Team, was awarded $353,500 to permanently protect 177 acres of coastal salt marsh and associated upland buffer through the purchase of a conservation easement. The property is located south of Plum Island Sound and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. The Great Marsh is the largest salt marsh in New England covering 25,000 acres. It functions as a major shellfish and fin fish nursery and is a critically important foraging and resting area for migrating birds along the Atlantic Flyway.
A question: The fishing community pays an excise tax that goes toward habitat conservation -- and benefits birds. The hunting community pays annually for Duck Stamps that conserve habitat -- and aid birds.

Will the birding community pay directly -- in equal numbers -- for habitat conservation?

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Blogger T. DeLene said...

I support these taxes because in the cases named here, the people paying them are also using or impacting these shared natural resources. Hunters take animals, fishermen take fish. Birders typically do not "take" birds in the sense of killing them (unless you are talking about duck hunters, but typically "birder" refers to someone who watches birds). The Duck Stamps are a great example of a non-hunting option. I think most birders would pay for habitat conservation measures in the form of contributions to campaigns like this one. Maybe specialty state license plate proceeds could go to habitat conservation, for example. Perhaps someone out there has done a willingness-to-pay study on this issue.

December 29, 2009 2:19 PM  
Blogger Steve Ingraham said...

No one likes taxes, but some method of encouraging birders to support such conservation efforts is definitely needed.

December 29, 2009 2:24 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

While birders do not "take" birds, their actions still affect the habitat via their vehicles and their footprints, at the least.

Many states do offer specialty license plates earmarked for wildlife conservation, but the funds do not necessarily go toward projects that more immediately benefit birds.

Duck Stamps have been available to birders for many decades. Only recently, however, have more birders begun to purchase it because they associate the stamp with hunters (whom they typically shun).

December 29, 2009 2:41 PM  
Blogger T. DeLene said...

What programs or ideas have you come across that would promote a willingness-to-pay culture among birders to promote conservation. (This could make a great feature story by the way!)

December 29, 2009 2:48 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I don't know that we *can* promote a willingness-to-pay culture among birders. Previous attempts have failed.

I'm under the impression that because birders do not finish their outings with a bird in hand ("we're only watching") or because they're watching in their yards, many do not see the need to conserve habitat, near or far. It's a persistent mindset that has prevailed for years.

WildBird has discussed the Duck Stamp in almost every issue for 3+ years. We support using an existing program that works efficiently.

December 29, 2009 3:20 PM  
Blogger OpposableChums said...

Really, the resistance amongst birders to accept any sort of conservation-related tax is shameful.

The assertion that we do not take home product from our nature forays is a small-minded and misplaced notion of a commercial-oriented culture. I would have thought we were better than this.

We birders can ravage the land like stampeding buffalo when a rarity is sighted. For casual birding, we use our local parks, spewing carbon to get there. We consume natural resources far in excess of the average citizen.

Hunters resolutely accept a small tax on everything from licenses to ammunition, and all of that revenue goes directly to conservation and habitat preservation needs

And WE do LESS?

December 30, 2009 9:19 AM  

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