Jun 29, 2010 11:32 AM by Melissa Canone
ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - The Gulf of Mexico oil spill prompts a
new push to quickly increase wetlands habitat for birds migrating
toward the Gulf of Mexico.
"More than 50 million migratory birds traveling south in coming
months will instinctively head toward the marshes and coastlands of
the northern Gulf of Mexico," said Kevin Norton, state
conservationist for Louisiana in the USDA Natural Resources
"With some marshes and shorelines already degraded and the
potential for larger-scale oil impacts in the coming months, it is
essential that we provide inland and coastal food, water and cover
for migratory birds before they reach the oil-impacted areas," he
The conservation service said up to $20 million is available
through three existing programs for farmers, ranchers and other
landowners in eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas.
They'll have to apply by Aug. 1 to get money to create or
enhance areas that will attract waterfowl such as ducks and geese;
water birds such as grebes, coots and guls; shore birds including
plovers and sandpipers, and wading birds such as ibis, herons and
Shallow water, mudflat and sandflat habitats all are needed, a
news release said.
"Of special interest are agricultural lands that contain
wetlands farmed under natural conditions and prior converted
croplands. Rice fields are particularly well-suited for this
initiative, as are catfish and crawfish farms," it said.
About $10 million of the money is through the Wetlands Reserve
Program, which provides know-how and money for easements in which
landowners protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their property.
It's available in five of the states: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana,
Mississippi, and Missouri.
Another $7 million is through the Environmental Quality
Incentives Program and $3 million through the Wildlife Habitat