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Conserving America's Wetlands 2008:
Four Years of Partnering Resulted in
Accomplishing the President's Goal


The importance of wetlands stewardship is reflected in the array of public–private partnerships that have formed, enhanced through efforts at the federal level. Recognizing the need for more effective use and coordination of federal wetlands activities, on April 22, 2004, President George W. Bush announced a new national policy and goal on wetlands to achieve an overall increase of U.S. wetlands each year, by restoring or creating, improving, or protecting at least three million wetland acres between Earth Day 2004 and 2009. The Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation, and the Army, and the Environmental Protection Agency have exceeded this target a year ahead of schedule in partnership with state, local, and tribal governments; private institutions; other nongovernmental entities; and individuals.

To achieve the President’s wetlands goal for Earth Day 2009, the President specifically called for:

  • Restoring or creating at least one million wetland acres;
  • Improving or enhancing at least one million wetland acres;
  • Protecting at least one million wetland acres.

  • All three of these targets have been met a year early. Between Earth Day 2004 and 2008, approximately 1,197,000 acres have been restored or created, 1,079,000 acres have been improved, and 1,324,000 acres have been protected (Figure 1). Agencies expect to add an additional 893,000 acres through Earth Day 2009.

    Figure 1. Anticipated Progress Toward the President’s Wetlands Goal

    Since Earth Day 2004, the primary programs making contributions to restoration or creation are:

  • Wetlands Reserve Program (USDA/NRCS);
  • North American Wetlands Conservation Act (DOI/FWS);
  • National Wildlife Refuge System (DOI/FWS);
  • Conservation Reserve Program (USDA/FSA);
  • Conservation Technical Assistance (USDA/NRCS);
  • Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (DOI/FWS);
  • Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection, and Restoration Projects, LA (USACE, EPA, FWS, NOAA, NRCS);
  • Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Program (DOA/Civil Works);
  • North American Waterfowl Management Plan–Joint Ventures (DOI/FWS); and
  • National Estuary Program (EPA).
  • The primary contributors to wetlands improvement are:

  • North American Wetlands Conservation Act;
  • Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act, La.;
  • Wetlands Reserve Program;
  • National Wildlife Refuge System;
  • Conservation Technical Assistance;
  • Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program;
  • North American Waterfowl Management Plan–Joint Ventures;
  • Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Program; and
  • National Estuary Program.
  • Wetlands protection through acquisitions or long-term easements is being accomplished by:

  • North American Wetlands Conservation Fund;
  • Wetlands Reserve Program;
  • National Wildlife Refuge System;
  • National Estuary Program.
  • Migratory Bird Conservation Fund (DOI/FWS).
  • Because more than 85 percent of our nation’s wetlands are on non-federal lands, the effectiveness of federal efforts to improve the health, quality, and use of the nation’s wetlands will be greatly enhanced by expanding public–private partnerships. Through cooperative conservation, the federal government can facilitate these partnerships by providing matching grants, technical assistance, and opportunities for the re-establishment, rehabilitation, enhancement, and protection of wetlands.

    Federal agencies must continue to encourage and partner with non-federal parties (state and local governments, tribes, and nongovernmental organizations). Well-coordinated public–private partnerships focused on wetlands opportunities will yield significant ecological benefits. Our ecology and economy are interdependent; a healthy environment and strong economy must both flourish.

    About This Report
    Conserving America’s Wetlands 2008: Four Years of Partnering Resulted in Accomplishing the President’s Goal documents attempted progress toward the President’s goal to expand our nation’s wetlands by creating, improving, and protecting at least three million acres of wetlands. In providinginformation, the participating agencies used terminology similar to that developed by the White House Wetlands Working Group and the same terminology used in previous editions of this report. Agencies reported all notable accomplishments toward the President’s goal in the year the project was completed, or projected to be completed, rather than the year the project was funded. Adjustments were made to account for projects reported by multiple agencies (“double-counting”). Projected estimates in the 2007 report were adjusted in this year’s report as actual results became available. Appendix A provides a thorough discussion of terminology and methodology, Appendix B describes efforts that help maintain the wetlands base, and Appendices C through I present program-level information and descriptions by agency.

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