WASHINGTON—The numbers of migratory water fowl have reached their highest levels since the 1930s, and it’s the combined, sustained conservation efforts that have made it happen.
“This is a great story,” said Glenn Olson, the Donald O’Brien Chair in Bird Conservation and Public Policy for the National Audubon Society
Olson was joined today (July 27) by Diane Ross-leech, PG&E’s director of environmental policy, in a briefing for the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF). They spoke on the success of the North American Migratory Bird Joint Venture project.
As a result of the Joint Venture:
- Continental waterfowl populations have recovered from their lowest levels since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s
- More than 25 million acres of wetlands and nearby uplands have been restored through 2,600 projects in Canada, the United States and Mexico
- A model of collaboration and purposeful conservation has been created that others can follow
A robust, diverse network of stakeholders is the key to the success of such conservation projects, said Ross-leech. That means engaging federal agencies such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers; state agencies such as the California Coastal Conservancy and the state’s Department of Fish and Game; environmental non-government organization such as Ducks Unlimited and Audubon; and landowners and businesses.
And besides saving wildlife, the projects create local jobs.
The Joint Ventures work with an innovative funding mechanism, where $1 billion of federal funds are matched by $3 billion of partner dollars. That means that $4 billion go to restoring and conserving wetlands for migratory waterfowl, and other migratory birds.
PG&E plays an active role in Joint Venture projects in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley. It’s a reflection of the significance of environmental stewardship at PG&E, Ross-leech said.
“Our customers value the environment where we live and work and the quality of life that conserving great outdoor spaces provides,” she said.
The San Francisco Bay Joint Venture project, for example, has purchased 16,500 acres of Cargill salt production ponds and has begun the largest wetland restoration project on the West Coast to restore habitat for water fowl as well as improving flood control and increasing public access.
The Central Valley Joint Venture has been instrumental in restoring 700,000 acres of wetlands and associated areas.
This is a particularly important story in California. About 60 percent of the waterfowl on the West Coast use the Pacific Flyway in the winter. Historically, that’s about 10 million birds.
Meanwhile, 95 percent of wetlands in California in 1850 are gone, declining from 5 million acres to 450,000 acres.
But through efforts such as North American Migratory Bird Joint Venture, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, that trend is being reversed.