September 25, 2009

CARDIN, MIKULSKI ANNOUNCED $2 MILLION IN FUNDS FOR BLACKWATER REFUGE IN SENATE-PASSED APPROPRIATIONS BILL

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) announced today that the Senate-passed FY 2010 Interior and Environment appropriations bill contains $2 million for the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Dorchester County.   The Refuge is currently separated into two non-contiguous sections by an area of unprotected land that could potentially be the site of future development and deforestation.   The funding would be used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help acquire additional land in the refuge, protecting it from future land conversion.

 

Senators Cardin and Mikulski and Congressman Frank Kratovil (MD-1) recently announced that the Blackwater NWR will acquire 823 acres as part of a grants program under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989 (NAWCA).  The Refuge serves as an important resting and feeding area for migrating and wintering waterfowl along the Atlantic Flyway.

 

"The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a national treasure that encompasses some of the most important marshlands in North America and it is vital to the health of migratory birds," said Senator Cardin, chairman of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Committee on Environment and Public Works. "We have a duty to protect this very important wildlife area for the future."

 

"The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is one of Maryland's treasures. It supports more than 300 species of birds, fish, and wildlife and provides an engaging environment to residents and visitors," said Senator Mikulski, a member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee that funds this program. "I will continue to fight for funds to preserve and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its fragile habitat."

The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1933 under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act.   Blackwater is considered a showplace because of its abundance and diversity of its wildlife and its critical wetland habitat.   More than 300 species of birds, fish and other wildlife call the refuge home, including the largest nesting population of bald eagles north of Florida on the Atlantic Coast, the largest extant population of Delmarva fox squirrels in the world, and some extremely rare aquatic plants.  

Blackwater NWR also is a major tourist attraction for Dorchester County and the Eastern Shore.  A quarter of a million visitors come to Blackwater each year, bringing an estimated $4 million annually to support the local economy. 

All land purchases for the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge are in accordance with the refuge's long-range master plan, which was developed with public participation over the course of several years.  The addition of parcels to the refuge only occur on a willing-seller basis.