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Found the below on Tony's site. Even though I send DU lots of money every year, I agree with Tony's comments about their lack of action when it counts.


There was an interesting editorial by Secretary of Interior Gale Norton and Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman in today's New York Times. The editorial seems to suggest that passage of the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act of 2003 in unnecessary because the federal government and private organizations are already protecting wetlands.

The lead says, "Every year, the federal government and Americans across the country preserve, restore and enhance thousands of acres of wetlands through cooperative conservation efforts, partnerships and voluntary programs. Unfortunately, that's not the news that most Americans read about. Instead, the focus has been on the wetland regulatory program."

The third paragraph says emphasis on the Clean Water Act's wetland protections, "give short shrift to the role nonregulatory conservation-the willing partnerships between citizens and all levels of government-can play."

I won't argue that partnerships between citizens-mostly hunters-and government have protected a lot of wetlands. And I understand that ducks need a community of wetlands to see them through their life cycle. They need staging habitat, molting habitat and wintering habitat, and I applaud the efforts of everyone working to preserve and protect the various members of the wetland community in every corner of the continent.

But at Delta Waterfowl, we have a saying: "The issue on the table is ducks", and when it comes to producing ducks, by far the most important wetlands are those little seasonal and temporary basins on the prairie breeding grounds. It's not the 17 acres of wetlands restored by an Orange Country, NC family in 2001 or the two acres of wetlands created by a fellow in Cooperstown, NY, two examples cited in the editorial.

The wetlands that produce ducks are the seasonal and temporary wetlands found on the prairie breeding grounds. Period.

As Ron Reynolds so eloquently pointed out in the Bob Marshall article, Swampbuster is the last layer of protection for seasonal and temporary wetlands, and Swampbuster is a very tenuous protection at best. The NRCS in South Dakota tried to sidestep Swampbuster a few years ago. Congress, with a few lines at the end of a homeland security or budget bill, could wipe out Swampbuster's protections.

Congress addressed the question of wetland protection way back in 1972 when it passed the Clean Water Act, perhaps the most important piece of environmental legislation ever written. But the US Supreme Court ruled that "isolated" wetlands don't qualify for protection under the CWA, leaving only Swampbuster to prevent these critical little wetlands from being drained.

"The Supreme Court got it wrong", says Rep. John Dingell, one of the authors of the CWA. He ought to know: He's the one who placed those protections in the Congressional Record in 1972.

The Clean Water Authority Restoration Act of 2003, introduced by Dingell and Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, simply reaffirms Congress' intent when it passed CWA over 30 years ago.

There's another paragraph in the Times editorial that nearly knocked me off my chair. In talking about all the good achieved through nonregulatory wetland conservation efforts, it says: "These figures also do not take into aco**** the expansion in citizen's stewardship and cooperative conservation programs under the Bush administration. For example, under the Interior Department's Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, landowners restored 48,000 wetland acres in 2001 and 65,000 acres in 2002."

The Partner's for Wildlife Program-as you well know-is not a product of the Bush administration. It's the brainchild of our old friend Carl Madsen of Brookings and has been around since 1986. Ironically, Carl is the guy who put his career on the line to testify against NRCS in court.

I wish Gale Norton had asked Carl about seasonal wetlands and the Clean Water Act before she signed her name to the editorial. Now retired, I'm sure he would have given her an earful.

Are Norton and Veneman using the editorial to announce that the administration is not going to support the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act of 2003? I certainly hope not, but that's the way I read it. I think that would be a terrible mistake, one that could cost George W. Bush much of the equity he's earned with the country's sportsmen.
At the very least, it should cost him some votes with duck hunters, because if we lose our seasonal and temporary wetlands, we very likely will be looking at closed duck seasons down the road.

It could be that the administration is merely testing the political winds. If that's the case, it's critically important that your readers contact their members of Congress to ask for-made that demand-their support of the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act of 2003. Anyone who doesn't know how to do that can visit Delta Waterfowl's web site at The necessary links and a sample letter are there.

Dan Nelson
Editor, Delta Waterfowl Report

Dan: I read the NY Times regularly on line and at least a dozen people sent me copies of it today.

You're dead on right about everything and I'll go a step farther. Gale Norton and Ann Venneman don't really give a damn about wetlands, especially prairie potholes. Bruce Knight, who heads the NRCS under Venneman, could have told her about them; after all, he's a South Dakota farmer. But alas, this former mouthpiece for the National Corngrowers was also a mover behind wetland drainage and anyone who questioned him, as I did, was labeled as Anti-farming.

Give me a break.

History will show that the Bush Administration is perhaps the most anti-conservation administation in history, worse even than the Reagan administration. Isn't it amazing that the Administration of George Bush Sr. look like wetland saviors compared to the administration of his son. At least, George Sr. called for "no net loss," supposedly oblivious to the fact his Vice President Dan Quayle, was working behind the scenes with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, to gut wetland regulations.

And you're right Dan, Dubbya didn't have anything to do with the private lands program, and that was Carl Madsen's baby from the start. How amazing the Secretaries of Ag and Interior can claim credit for something that existed well before they took office.

Really, I think Ann Venneman might try to do the right thing...but this lady Gale Norton, hey, she's in it for the long haul and all you have to do is look at her background and record.

Anyone that thinks this Administration is going to do anything good for ducks, fish or wildlife, better look more closely.

I guess I'm not surprised that DU hasn't said anything about this administration other than trying to give it some lefthanded praise...such as suggesting they are going to promise "no net loss," and that Bruce Batt is looking at it.

DU does their members a huge disservice for all the wrong reasons. Instead of unleashing them, which they could do with a hand-wave, they worry more about the federal funds (NAWCA) that will funnel through their books, and enable high ranking officials to get yet another pay raise.


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D.U. is prohibited from lobbing efforts due to it's non-profit status, and there lies the problem in them getting into the fight. They have and currently are puting I do beleive almost 90% of all money raised into wetland conservation. I wanted to point this out not as an excuse but to shed some light to the discussion.

For those who have freinds or family that are in farming and deal with the temp or seasonal wet land, ask them what they will do with them this year? Then reflect on those anwsers to find a solution to this with out the allenation of the landowners.

There are reasonable and workable solutions to this and my reading of the proposed legislation deals with some but leaves some area's void. We need bipartisan work on this issue not finger pointing and name calling as to who did what.

We have a current contingent in Washington that represents all of ND not just some,and they need reminding of this. Holding them accountable and not letting them spin or blame someone else for the situation and having others do the same in there states is the only way that this can be fixed.

We have the problem and spending time raging on and on who is responsible, instead of finding solutions will cause any action to be delayed and delays mean permanet damage.
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