One of the most important requirements for having healthy numbers of ducks and geese each spring and fall is suitable waterfowl habitat – areas like the prairie pothole region of the upper Midwest and Canada where waterfowl find sufficient water, food and shelter to nest, obtain food and raise their young each spring.

It's always good news when the federal government steps in to help create and maintain more waterfowl habitat.

This happened recently when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a landmark investment of nearly $30 million in the future of wetlands, waterfowl and public waterfowl hunting across the country through expanded refuges and hunting programs.

Nearly $11 million in money from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund will add more than 10,000 wetland acres to seven units in the National Wildlife Refuge System.


An additional $18.4 million in federal funding will conserve more than 95,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitat under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.


Expanded hunting activities also will be added at 16 national wildlife refuges in 14 states, including several new and enhanced migratory bird-hunting opportunities.

 Having waterfowl to hunt drives a huge sector of America's economic engine, including purchases of hunting/camping equipment, shotguns, ammunition, clothing, leases, boats, fuel, lodging, food, decoys, motors, camouflage and many other items. Purchase sof these hunting essentials in turn generates income for the federal government through taxes. Plus sales of migratory waterfowl "stamps" are needed to hunt ducks and geese in every flyway state.


But without birds, there's no reason for these expenditures.


"These improvements to the National Wildlife Refuge System are essential to the future of waterfowl and waterfowling, and the thanks go in large part to the very Americans who stand to benefit most - hunters," said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall in a news release. "In buying their duck stamps year after year, these dedicated outdoorsmen are ensuring a future for wetlands conservation and enjoyment of these refuges for generations to come.


"Along with additional areas to hunt come a host of other outdoor recreation opportunities for all ages inside our nation's refuges, as well as the lasting benefits of conserving wetland acres - flood storage, improved water quality and storm protection."


The expanded refuge hunting is intended to fulfill the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, which helped create public hunting opportunities at more than 300 national wildlife refuges across the country, as well as fishing opportunities at more than 270 refuges.


"By expanding hunting in our National Wildlife Refuge System, we are supporting a heritage that has been handed down from … to connect Americans to the natural world through outdoor recreation," said Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior. "Hunters have been a mainstay of conservation in America for more than 100 years, and expanding hunting opportunities helps ensure we will have the resources to care for our wildlife and its habitat in the future."