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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 22, 2004

Fact Sheet: President Announces Wetlands Initiative on Earth Day

Today's Presidential Action

President Bush celebrated Earth Day in Wells, Maine, where he visited with volunteers helping protect a wetland that is home to abundant wildlife and helps cleanse water reaching the Atlantic Ocean.

New figures released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that, for the first time in history, America has reversed the annual net loss of wetlands on our farms. The United States was losing almost 500,000 acres of wetlands per year 30 years ago, but today, that loss is down dramatically. Overall, we are nearing the national goal of "no net loss" of wetlands reaffirmed by President Bush in 2002.

The President announced an aggressive new national goal -- moving beyond a policy of "no net loss" of wetlands to have an overall increase of wetlands in America each year. The President's goal is to create, improve, and protect at least three million wetland acres over the next five years in order to increase overall wetland acres and quality. To meet this goal, the President called on Congress to pass his FY 2005 budget request, which includes $4.4 billion for conservation programs that include funding for wetlands -- an increase of $1.5 billion (53%) over FY 2001. The FY 2005 budget proposes to spend $349 million on our two key wetlands programs -- the Wetlands Reserve Program and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grants Program -- which is an increase of more than 50% over FY 2001 for those two programs.

This year, Earth Day falls during the middle of National Volunteer Week, and President Bush commended the nearly 400 volunteers at Wells National Reserve, and thousands of volunteers nationwide, for their ethic of stewardship that is helping to preserve our precious natural resources.

Background on Today's Presidential Action

President Bush's Strategy For Increasing Wetlands Acres and Quality

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