The Death of North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grants?

View at the Office (Napa Plant Site)
View at the Office (Napa Plant Site)

Current suggested budget cuts on Capitol Hill would eliminate funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) bringing annual funding ($46 million in 2010) to ZERO.

 I’ll preface here… the budget needs to be cut. We are spending too much money and not enough taxes are coming in to cover our voracious need to get to the next better place. We will always need balance. There will always be a sweetheart with whom you will need to spend less time or have to leave out in the rain. And there is much to scream about being cut from the budget right now, but humor me for a moment. Let me tell you why my pet project should be protected.

The North American Wetlands Act was created to save the wet and wild spaces in America. Wet and Wild. This sounds sexy and it is. Fish need water. Ducks need water. And our children need the water which is filtered through the wetlands– the kidneys of our renewable resources. The best drinking water is utilized, muliplied and sifted through a place so perfect and pristine that you’ll need waders to even get a brief glimpse of its secrets.

And your children are welcome to the drinking water. I simply want to be in waders, waist-deep in paradise. Wetlands are both our health and our leisure. Either way, no organism lives without kidneys. It’s impossible. Yet we’ve lost 96% of our historic wetlands in California. We’re drinking the dregs of what was once a spectacular vintage.

Since the conception of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) in 1989 more than 1,600 NAWCA projects have contributed to the conservation of more than 25 million acres of habitat across North America. That’s about the size of Virginia or Kentucky. If all you know is California (like me) — there are 101 million acres in California. NAWCA has been responsible for the conservation of a piece of land about a quarter of the size of this state. This is a lot of something when you’re in a place where you basically have nothing …

There is more to NAWCA than this though. When I stepped into a position at Ducks Unlimited fundraising, I knew I was with the right organization. I knew what DU did for wetlands and waterfowl and that they had been consistently science-based and successful in their work since 1937. What I had no idea of –and what constantly amazes me is what a complex partnership of careful orchestration the renewal and protection of wetlands actually requires. NAWCA isn’t just a chunk of change being doled out by the government. It is the granting arm of the Joint Ventures, cohorts of conservation groups organized geographically and all following an agreed upon plan for rejuventating wetlands systems that can support the most diverse group of species possible, including humans. If you want funds to do wetlands work from NAWCA, you better be making the most positive impact possible or you don’t make the cut.

Conaway Ranch

Conaway Ranch

Speaking to this as a fundraiser, there’s another component to this that makes for incredible forward motion. Every federal dollar MUST BE MATCHED by at least one private dollar in donations. One dollar of NAWCA money may mean $8 for me in funding work on the ground. Who wouldn’t find it more appealing to give if giving means your dollar is stretched and incredibly valuable. Not to mention how very expensive it is to do dirt work in California…

Which also leads me to this point… NAWCA means jobs. This flow of philanthropic dollars helps contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy and support more than 20,000 jobs. And I don’t mean just here at DU. We are a group of scientists, biologists, engineers and GIS specialists with only mimimal adminstration support. When we do construction, it’s contracted out. Hiring equipment, moving dirt, doing the on-the-ground work is handed over to the local economy from those dollars. DU runs a lean operation of specialists. We don’t own equipment or have construction staff in-house. We do the permiting, engineering, check the science and catalyze. Money invested here is money invested locally.

And all of this sounds very analtyical, thought-provoking and relevant. It’s true of course, the important things that NAWCA makes possible. If you were to corner me though, I would say that I’ve lost too much already, that every piece of California that has its wilderness cracked or smashed by concrete is one more blow to my already mostly-broken heart. We are supporting 12% of historical duck numbers on a mere 4% of historical habitat. Something is going to give. Don’t let it be NAWCA. You need wetlands and ducks need you.

Read more here and see how you can make your opinion heard.

In Wilton (photo by Rob Diebold)

In Wilton (photo by Rob Diebold)

Gearing up for Duck Season

Winter Pass by ViaMoi on Flickr Courtesy of CC Licensing

Winter Pass by ViaMoi on Flickr Courtesy of CC Licensing

The ducks are coming!

And so is the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest!

The Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest being is being judged for the first time in California and there are a lot of ancillary events going on especially in the Bay Area.

If you decide to come see the judging, look for me. I’ll be the redhead either texting to Twitter on my cell phone about the contest and running around in a panic.

So get out! Celebrate conservation and…put your stamp on it!


10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Birding on UC Berkeley Campus, Leave from the David Brower Center, CA, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley.

Join Golden Gate Audubon for a bird walk on the UC Berkeley campus.   Trip will depart from the David Brower Center.  Transportation to be provided. Binoculars recommended.  Teenagers and adults only please.

9 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Duck Stamp Art Contest Judging
, David Brower Center, Berkeley, CA, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley.
Opening Ceremony is at 10 a.m. Ongoing activities at the center include kids activities, wood duck carving demonstration,  partner organizations on display, vendors sell stamps and products, and “Pick the Winner” contest.

1 – 3 p.m.

North Bay Restoration Tour Friday, Depart from the David Brower Center, Berkeley, CA
Take a free 2-hour bus tour of 3 restoration projects in San Pablo Bay with Ducks Unlimited. Seating is limited and first come, first served.  Please RSVP to

Wood Duck Colors by Nick Chill Courtesy of CC Licensing

Wood Duck Colors by Nick Chill Courtesy of CC Licensing


9 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Duck Stamp Art Contest Judging
, David Brower Center, Berkeley, CA
Doors open at 9 a.m. for art viewing and judging begins at 10 a.m. The winner will be announced at about 12 p.m.

9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Shoreline Restoration and Celebrate World Food Day, Martin Luther King Shoreline Park, Oakland

Help “feed two birds with one hand!” Learn more and rsvp HERE.

10 a.m. –12:30 pm

Live from Berkeley: Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest- Video Stream

Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Visitor Center, Loleta, CA.  For directions, call 707-733-5406.

San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Visitor Center, Fremont, CA.  For directions, call 510-792-0222.

Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Visitor Center, Tulelake, CA.  For directions, call 530-667-2231.

Me & the Missus by Doug Greenburg on Flickr couresty of CC Licensing

Me & the Missus by Doug Greenberg on Flickr couresty of CC Licensing

11a.m. – 12 p.m.
Duck Drawing Workshop
, Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, Newark Slough Learning Center, Fremont
Learn the basics of drawing ducks and hear how youths can enter the US Fish & Wildlife Service Jr. Duck Stamp contest! Suitable for all ages.  RVSP  HERE by October 15 – (510) 792-0222 x363,

1 p.m.

Bird Walk – Leave from the David Brower Center for a guided 2 hour bird walk in the Berkeley area. Binoculars recommended.

2:30 – 4 p.m.
Amazing Refuge Race II, Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, Visitor Center, Fremont
Using a GPS unit, teams of five will “race” to the coordinates given and perform specific tasks. Prizes will be awarded. Call by October 15th (510)-792-0222 ext. 363 to register.

3-5 p.m.
A Toast to Ducks: Duck and Wine Pairing Workshop
, Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, Visitor Center, Fremont. Learn which types of wine goes well with duck. $10 donation.  Space is limited to 50 adults 21 years and over. Call 510-792-0222 ext. 363 for your ticket.  More info HERE.

Want to watch the art being judged from the comfort of your own home?? It will be streamed HERE.

A Year for the Ducks

A Year for the Ducks

A Year for the Ducks

Working at DU out here in the west was “interesting” this last year, to say the least.  In California, we were particularly challenged by frozen bond funds, halting progress toward completing ten million dollars worth of contracted projects. The staff here put in long hours, seeking creative ways, such as a no interest loans from foundations, to get our work on the ground in motion again. They made it happen. It was pretty amazing.

All year we continued to partner with other conservation organizations and land trusts. We succeeded in ensuring the rerouting of a major electric powerline, originally proposed to pass through sensitive wetlands habitat in the Sacramento Valley. We were also involved in a major water policy package working to protect fish, wildlife and people from dangerous mercury levels, while also working to procure more water for our struggling refuges.

This year we embark on one of the largest coastal restoration projects ever attempted in the San Francisco Bay and continue our efforts to restore and maintain the Central Valley refuges, all hard hit by state funding cuts, as well as work with private landowners. Of course this is only a tiny portion of the entirety of projects in the Pacific Flyway, but it gives you an idea. I’ve got my work cut out for me raising funds for all this great stuff, but I think it’s wonderful that despite the economy there are still tons of incredibly important work being done in this office. I certainly landed in the right place!

Wetlands Conservation in the San Francisco Bay

This is a great video discussing the various benefits (including saving tax payers money) that are created through Ducks Unlimited and partners working on projects in the San Francisco Bay area.  I visited the Bair Island restoration project, shot video and took photos. I will do a separate post on that, but in the mean time check out the video. There’s a lot more conservation work going on out there than you might guess. And it isn’t just waterfowl that needs clean water…

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt