Senate Bill Introduced to Conserve Rapidly
Disappearing Migratory Birds |
For Immediate Release: April 7, 2009
, American Bird Conservancy, 202/234-7181 ext. 216
(Washington, D.C.) Senator
Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Environment and Public
Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, has introduced bipartisan
legislation to boost funding for the conservation of migratory
birds. Cosponsors of the bill include Senators Mike Crapo
(R-ID), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bill
Nelson (D-FL), and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT).
treasure, our environment, is a lure for millions of human
tourists and avian visitors each year. For nearly a decade,
federal investment in habitat protection, education, research
and monitoring of neotropical migratory birds has been vital
to the well-being of our ecosystem and our economy,”
said Senator Cardin.
The Senate bill, S. 690, reauthorizes
the existing Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA),
but at significantly higher levels, to meet the growing needs
of our migrants, many of which are in rapid decline. Representative
Ron Kind (D-WI) plans to introduce similar legislation in
the House of Representatives. The legislation was introduced
following the release of U.S.
State of the Birds, the most comprehensive assessment
to date on the status of bird populations. The report found
that over 250 American bird species are in decline or facing
“This legislation is urgently needed
to prevent America’s native birds from disappearing,”
said Darin Schroeder, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice
President of Conservation Advocacy. “Nearly half of
our songbird population is now in decline or facing serious
threats; effective conservation projects can help us to start
turning that around.”
Of the 178 continental bird species included
on American Bird Conservancy’s WatchList of birds of highest conservation concern, over one-third,
71 species, are Neotropical migrants. The populations of an
estimated 127 species of migratory birds are in persistent
decline, and 60 species have experienced significant population
declines greater than 45% over the last 40 years. Several
species, the Cerulean Warbler and Olive-sided Flycatcher,
have declined as much as 70% since surveys began in the 1960s.
"Senator Cardin has been a champion
of Maryland's environment for many years,” said Schroeder.
“This vital legislation recognizes that Maryland's migratory
birds, including species like the Baltimore Oriole, Kentucky
Warbler and Whip-poor-will, require our help if to ensure
that they continue to thrive in our state. We applaud the
Senator for his leadership on this critical local and national
Migratory Birds for Future Generations: The Success of
the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, a 2008
report by American Bird Conservancy, details the disturbing
downward trend in the populations of many migratory species
and its causes, and documents the effectiveness of NMBCA.
American Bird Conservancy and the Bird Conservation Alliance,
a broad network of bird clubs, science and conservation organizations,
have launched the Act for Songbirds campaign, to support reauthorizing
the legislation and boosting funding levels each year. Citizens
are being encouraged to contact their Senators in support
of the legislation at http://www.abcbirds.org/action.
“This is something that everyone
who loves birds can do to make a difference,” said Schroeder.
NMBCA supports partnership programs to
conserve birds in the United States, Canada, Latin America,
and the Caribbean, where approximately five billion birds
of over 500 species, including some of the most endangered
birds in North America, spend their winters. Projects include
activities that benefit bird populations such as habitat restoration,
research and monitoring, law enforcement, and outreach and
education. Between 2002 and 2007, the program supported 225
projects, coordinated by partners in 44 U.S. states/territories
and 34 countries. Projects involving land conservation have
affected about 3 million acres of bird habitat.
Staff of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
report that they receive many more requests for high quality
conservation projects than they can provide grants for. NMBCA
currently provides a maximum authorization of $6 million per
year; this year Congress is recommending an appropriation
of $4.75 million, a $250 thousand increase from the previous
year. Under the new law, that amount would increase to $20
million by 2015. Grants require matching funds from other
non-federal sources. Thus far, more than $21 million from
NMBCA grants has leveraged over $95 million in partner contributions.
FWS lists 341 migratory bird species that can benefit from
the program: http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NMBCA/BirdList.shtm.
Conservancy (ABC) works to conserve native wild birds
and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts to safeguard
the rarest bird species, restore habitats, and reduce threats,
while building capacity in the conservation movement. ABC
is the voice for birds, ensuring that they are adequately
protected; that sufficient funding is available for bird conservation;
and that land is protected and properly managed to maintain
viable habitat. ABC is a 501(c)(3) membership organization
that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the
independent group, Charity Navigator.