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 Home > News & Policies > October 2007

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 19, 2007

Fact Sheet: Improving Habitat for Our Nation's Migratory Birds
President Bush Discusses Cooperative Conservation Steps For Migratory Bird Habitat In The U.S.

     Fact sheet President Bush Discusses Migratory Bird Conservation

On Saturday, October 20, President Bush toured the Patuxent Research Refuge and discussed steps the Administration is taking, including a new policy called recovery credit trading, to preserve and restore stopover habitat for migratory birds in the U.S. The Patuxent Research Refuge is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, which plays an important role in America's bird conservation efforts. To improve America's long-term protections for migratory birds, the President will discuss a series of steps to help ensure we are practicing cooperative conservation beyond the boundaries of our national parks and wildlife refuges.

  • Expanding development has made it harder for migratory birds in the U.S. to find stopover habitat places to stop and rest during their migration that is necessary to their survival. Each year more than 800 species of migratory birds fly thousands of miles over North America to the warm climate of the American South, the Caribbean, and Mexico, where they stay for the winter.

  • The President's "cooperative conservation" policies will help America's migratory birds, conserve the habitat they depend on, and ensure that generations of Americans will enjoy their beauty for decades to come. Cooperative conservation relies on the principle that to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st century, we must bring together citizens, private groups, and officials from every level of government in a spirit of cooperation.

The Administration Is Taking A Series Of Cooperative Conservation Steps To Preserve And Restore Critical Stopover Habitat For Migratory Birds In The U.S.

The President announced that the Administration will put forward next week an innovative policy called recovery credit trading, which will provide a new tool to help in habitat conservation. With this policy, landowners who improve habitat for birds and other species will earn recovery credits that they can sell. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service organized a pilot project using this approach to conserve warblers and vireos in Texas, and this new policy will formalize this practice for recovering species.

The President calls on Congress to pass his FY2008 Budget proposal to provide the conservation tax incentives that reward landowners who donate conservation easements. These easements are charitable contributions of valuable property rights to ensure the long-term preservation of habitat.

The President has asked Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to produce a "State of the Birds" report by 2009. To be effective in protecting migratory bird habitats, we must measure to ensure we have the best possible data about our bird populations. Accordingly, this report will chart our progress, identify species that need additional protections, and help us bring more of America's bird species into a healthy and sustainable status.

  • Since 2004, the Interior Department has improved the status of five migratory bird species and helped ensure that 62 percent of our Nation's migratory bird species are at healthy and sustainable levels. The conservation actions announced today will start the Fish and Wildlife Service toward improving the status of five more species over the next five years.

Over the next two years, the Interior Department will also work with five cities across our Nation to implement measures that will build stopover habitats.

These Steps Build On Existing Efforts To Ensure The Survivability Of Migratory Birds

Since 2001, we have expanded National Wildlife Refuges, created 10 new refuges, and restored and improved hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat for migratory birds. In addition, we are setting a goal to restore an additional 200,000 acres by 2009.

We are also working to improve habitat for migratory birds in our national parks. Under the National Parks Centennial Initiative, the Administration will raise $3 billion in additional public and private funding for improvements in our national parks. This money will help in the creation and restoration of a variety of wildlife habitats, including some that directly benefit birds.

The Joint Ventures program for waterfowl has brought together Federal, State, and tribal agencies with private groups and corporations to improve habitat on private land. There are 18 Joint Ventures now underway and because of their success, next year we will add three more partnerships to help conserve birds along the Rio Grande corridor, in the Appalachian Mountains, and on the Northern Great Plains. Each Joint Venture consists of a team of biologists and land managers who make sure that all bird conservationists in a particular region are working toward common goals to design and carry out habitat improvements.

The President has allocated more than $509 million in FY08 to USDA Farm Bill conservation programs that assist landowners in preserving and enhancing habitat for migratory birds. This includes the Wetlands Reserve Program, Conservation Reserve Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and Grasslands Reserve Program. Each program is helping preserve and restore migratory bird wetlands habitat to its original natural condition by emphasizing soil, water, and other natural resources on private lands.

The U.S. Is Also Engaging In International Efforts To Ensure The Preservation Of Migratory Bird Habitat

Cooperative conservation must occur on both sides of the border, since many species of birds live part of their lives in the United States and part in Mexico. The Secretaries of State, the Interior, and Commerce are working with the Mexican government, governors from both countries, and non-governmental partners to undertake important habitat projects in Mexico.

We have identified five priority habitats in Mexico where we are working to support conservation initiatives. The President has committed $4 million for Fiscal Year 2007 funds to begin implementing projects to support conservation initiatives in Laguna Madre, Marismas Nacionales, Chiapas, Yucatan Peninsula, and the Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands (Janos and Saltillo). Working with local communities, the projects will support birds that migrate between Mexico and the United States by:

  • Restoring desert grasslands through improved livestock grazing and controlled burning.

  • Restoring freshwater wetlands through improved water systems and replanting native species.

  • Restoring coastal wetlands through better land-use practices, controlling erosion, opening blockages to tidal flow, and replanting areas of mangrove and sea grasses.

  • Managing native forests for birds through replanting, thinning, controlling non-native species, and controlled fires.

  • Promoting bird-friendly agriculture with safer chemicals, crop rotation, and improved plant varieties that lessen outbreaks of pests and improve crop yields.

Another $4 million is also expected to be used in FY 2008 to implement bird conservation programs in Mexico.

The President is directing the Secretaries of State and Interior to increase our participation in the Agreement on Conservation for Albatrosses and Petrels. This is a multilateral agreement that seeks to conserve albatrosses and petrels by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to these populations.

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