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Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov [TH]

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — April 5, 2004

Ducks Unlimited Honors TPWD

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Texas Parks and Wildlife Department received a Gold State Grant Award from Ducks Unlimited at the 69th Annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Spokane, Washington on March 19.

Each year, Ducks Unlimited presents State Grant Awards to state agencies that have reached significant milestones in their contributions to conserve waterfowl breeding habitat in critical areas of Canada. TPWD received the award in recognition of contributions in excess of $1 million.

The department provided more than $100,000 for this international conservation effort this past year. Ducks Unlimited in turn matches the department’s contribution and uses the combined amount to lever a U.S. federal match under the terms of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). In effect TPWD’s contribution is leveraged more than four-fold by the time it reaches the ground in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Mike Berger, Ph.D. and TPWD wildlife division director, accepted the award.

"Since 1985, the Ducks Unlimited partnership with our state agency has conserved more than 200,000 acres of wetlands and other vital waterfowl habitat in the primary waterfowl nesting areas of Saskatchewan, Canada and restored and protected over 112,000 acres wetlands in Texas," Berger said. "We are proud to accept this award from an organization that achieves real, on-the-ground conservation. The net result is better hunting, better birding, and healthier ecosystems. Government cannot do it alone, and groups like this one are absolutely critical for effective wildlife conservation."

Alan Wentz, Ph.D., and DU’s group manager for conservation programs, presented the award. "Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has made a significant, positive difference in the effort to conserve North America’s waterfowl habitats," said Wentz. "It is both a privilege and a pleasure to recognize such outstanding partners in conservation."

TPWD has been a partner in the State Grant Program since 1985, and was one of only two state agencies to receive the prestigious Gold State Program Award. Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources was the other recipient.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation group.

Wetlands are arguably the most important habitat type for fish and wildlife, yet they are also one of the most threatened. During the last 200 years, Texas has lost more than 52 percent of its original wetlands, according to the report "Wetlands losses in the United States 1780’s to 1980’s" published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, wetlands along the Texas coast continue to be lost at a rate of about 5,700 acres a year. This fact was documented by a study called "Texas Coastal Wetlands; Status and Trends, mid-1950s to early 1990s," by TPWD and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The greatest losses were of freshwater emergent and forested wetlands, with significant but relatively smaller losses of saltwater wetlands.

Information about wetlands, including grant funding and guidance for landowners, plus links to private conservation groups like DU, is on the TPWD Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/wetlands/).

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