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Senate Bill Introduced

…to Conserve Rapidly Disappearing Migratory Birds

(Washington, D.C. – September 17, 2008) Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), George Voinovich (R-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have introduced bipartisan legislation to boost funding for the conservation of migratory birds. The Senate bill, S. 3490, 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. Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) have introduced similar bipartisan legislation, H.R. 5756, in the House of Representatives.

“Maryland’s natural 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,” /i>said Senator Cardin.Of the 178 continental bird species included on the American Bird Conservancy/Audubon 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.

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.Saving Migratory Birds for Future Generations: The Success of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, a new 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 Representative and 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 Alicia King, Director of the Bird Conservation Alliance.The House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans, held an oversight hearing July 10, titled "Going, Going, Gone? An Assessment of the Global Decline in Bird Populations." Witnesses, including Dr. George Wallace of American Bird Conservancy testified to the importance of the NMBCA to conserve declining migratory birds.

NB 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; last year Congress appropriated $4.5 million, a $500 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

4th July 2014