SENATOR BENJAMIN L. CARDIN (D-MD)
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT & PUBLIC WORKS
Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife
Collaborative Solutions to Wildlife and Habitat Management
April 27, 2010
This hearing of the subcommittee on water and wildlife of the Committee on Environment and Public Works will come to order.
The vast majority of our nation’s land is privately owned and the majority of fish and wildlife resources—some of our most treasured migratory birds, fish, animals—are located on those private lands. If we are going to be successful in our efforts to protect these species and these places, we all –private and public, individuals and organizations, businessmen and conservationists, farmers and fishermen – will have to work together to make it happen.
This hearing will focus on several initiatives at the Fish and Wildlife Service that promote collaborative solutions to wildlife and habitat management. I want to thank the subcommittee’s Ranking Member, Senator Crapo, for suggesting we hold this hearing. Senator Crapo has spearheaded some truly groundbreaking work in Idaho to address challenging land use concerns. I am sorry he cannot join us today. He has been called to the White House for a meeting of the President’s Commission on the Debt. We thank him for his service and efforts to address that serious challenge for our nation.
For more than 20 years, the Fish and Wildlife Service has initiated collaborative arrangements with public and private entities to conserve, restore, and enhance critical habitats. Today’s hearing will focus on three programs, Candidate Conservation Agreements, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and the Coastal Program.
We Marylanders know what an enormous impact these programs can have and I want to focus my comments today on the Coastal Program. Coastal wetlands provide essential nutrients, food, and shelter for shellfish, waterfowl, migratory birds, and more than half of commercial fish. They protect coastal areas from storm damage, help stabilize shorelines, and improve water quality by filtering waste and pollution that end up in our water. The estimated national economic value of coastal wetlands is in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
In Maryland, we depend on coastal wetlands for our livelihood and our way of life. So we are grateful of the work the Coastal Program has done in my state to protect these vital natural resources. In fact, the Chesapeake Bay was home to the first Coastal Program project. Since 2000, the Coastal Program has completed 203 projects in Maryland alone to protect 66,000 acres of Maryland’s treasured coastal wetlands.
I want to make sure that this critical program has what it needs to be as successful as it can be and I will look for input on this issue from our panels today.
I want to thank our witnesses for joining us to share their experience with these programs and their insights into how inter-agency, federal-state, and public-private partnerships can help us restore and protect critical ecosystems. We look forward to hearing their testimony.