Kansas reaches $1 million in state grants to Canada habitat program

Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KWPT) was recognized March 18th for its cumulative $1 million in contributions supporting wetlands protection and restoration on the Canadian breeding grounds, which are important to Kansas’ waterfowl populations. The ceremony took place at the 81st North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“Ducks Unlimited is very pleased to recognize Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for its commitment to making wise investments in habitat important to the birds that migrate through Kansas each year,” said Paul Schmidt, DU chief conservation officer.

For 25 years, Kansas has helped fund nesting habitat in prairie Canada through the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (AFWA) State Contributions to Canada program.

“Conserving this vital habitat takes state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and others working collaboratively to ensure waterfowl populations are there for future generations,” said KWPT Assistant Secretary Keith Sexson. “The science tells us that waterfowl predominantly nest in Canada, so we need to make our investment in habitat conservation there.”

The AFWA program, which funds North American Waterfowl Management Plan habitat projects in Canada, started in 1965 as one of the very first international public/private partnerships to support migratory bird conservation and is funded primarily by hunting license sales. Through this program, states help fund long-term partnerships that conserve and restore breeding habitat for waterfowl that migrate through, and winter in, their own states.

“The importance of state contributions to Canadian habitat conservation and restoration projects cannot be overstated,” said Pat Kehoe, DU Canada’s director of international partnerships. “Ducks Unlimited’s programs in the U.S. and Canada are consistent with the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and our prairie programs are structured to protect native, highly productive habitat while also improving waterfowl production in working agricultural landscapes.”

As with all states that contribute to the program through Ducks Unlimited, Kansas’ contribution will be matched by DU and funds from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Habitat conservation efforts focus on habitats important to waterfowl migrating through Kansas each spring and fall.

“We are very pleased to have Kansas as a partner in waterfowl habitat conservation in Canada,” Schmidt added. “They have reached the Gold Award level, and their commitment to wetland conservation continues to build.”