Wednesday, June 06, 2007

BP America $2 million donation helps DU secure wetlands grant

BP America $2 million donation helps DU secure wetlands grant

Louisiana coastal wetlands restoration is the focus

LAFAYETTE, La., June 2, 2007 – A new North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant awarded to Ducks Unlimited will fund conservation activities on 11,024 acres in southwest Louisiana. Ducks Unlimited used a $2 million donation by BP America to match federal dollars to earn the grant.

“Ducks Unlimited is grateful to have BP as a partner on this project, and we commend their commitment to wetland conservation along the Louisiana coast,” said Bob Dew, Ducks Unlimited (DU) regional biologist.

The restored wetlands will provide wintering and migration habitat for several waterfowl species including northern pintails, mottled ducks and mallards. BP’s contribution to this grant came from a $40 million conservation donation it gave Louisiana in 2002.

The objective of the project is to restore and protect coastal wetlands on public and private lands damaged or at risk of damage from human-caused saltwater intrusion. Saltwater intrusion kills vegetation and exposes marsh soils to severe wave erosion.

DU will manage the installation of two water control structures on Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge. DU and several private landowners will also share the cost of replacing at least 13 inoperable water control structures. The new structures will allow control of water levels and help reduce saltwater intrusion and excessive flooding.

Managing water and salinity levels that mimic natural fluctuations will prevent conversion of vegetated wetlands to open water.

“In some situations, elevated freshwater conditions for extended periods are just as harmful as high salinity saltwater,” Dew said. “Adequate management of fresh and saltwater is necessary to achieve desirable habitat conditions in these situations in southwest Louisiana.”

BP America donated the 71,130-acre White Lake Wetland Conservation Area to Louisiana for conservation purposes in 2002. The property containing fresh marsh and associated uplands was valued at $40 million. The property’s value has provided key matching funds for eight North America Wetlands Conservation Act grant projects. These projects have restored or enhanced thousands of wetland acres in southwest Louisiana.

“We realize the benefits wetland conservation has for wildlife, people and the oil and gas industry,” said Marti Gazzier, general manager of BP government and public affairs for the Gulf Coast. “By restoring marshes and maintaining a sustainable ecosystem we can ensure the commercial, recreational and ecological functions of coastal Louisiana remain intact.”

The project will also benefit several commercially and recreationally important species including brown and white shrimp, blue crabs and red drum.

Additional partners providing funds to help secure the grant were the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and several private landowners.

The Ducks Unlimited Governmental Affairs staff works with Congress in support of annual funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Louisiana’s delegation has been very supportive of the Act, including U.S. senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter and representatives Rodney Alexander and Charles Boustany, whose districts are where the project will occur.

For more information on the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, go to

Contact: Jennifer Kross
(601) 206-5449

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands ¬- nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.