WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today announced that the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved $505,000 in funding to conserve 112 acres of habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The acquisition will be funded by more than $6 million in proceeds from sales of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, otherwise known as the Federal Duck Stamp.
“The Blackwater NWR is one of Maryland’s most important natural resources and one of my top priorities in the U.S. Senate has been to preserve and protect its unique habitat and ecology,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “I want to thank all the Americans who purchase Duck Stamps for strengthening our National Wildlife System and for helping to expand Blackwater.”
“The Blackwater Refuge is one of the Eastern Shore’s unique treasures,” Senator Mikulski said. “Investment in our environment is an investment in the future of our state. It helps with jobs in the tourism industry by providing an engaging environment for residents and visitors, and it helps with the environment by providing a complex habitat for many species. This addition to the Blackwater Refuge will make sure that it will be preserved so that future generations of Marylanders can enjoy it.”
For every dollar spent on Federal Duck Stamps, 98 cents goes directly to purchase vital habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission oversees the use of Federal Duck Stamp funds for the purchase and lease of these wetland habitats for national wildlife refuges. To date, commission action has protected some 5.5 million acres of wetlands using more than $1.1 billion in Duck Stamp revenues.
The acquisition announced today is located just off Shorter’s Wharf Road. The privately held land is located on the east side of the Refuge and is being sold to the Fish and Wildlife Service by the owner. Every winter, tens of thousands of snow geese, tundra swans, Canada geese and ducks use the Blackwater Refuge. Many of the waterfowl have already started heading back north to their summer nesting sites. During the critical winter months, the refuge provides critical habitat and food for these iconic Chesapeake waterfowl. The addition of 112 acres to the refuge will play an important role in supporting healthy waterfowl populations for decades to come.
Since 2008, Senator Cardin and Senator Mikulski have worked to appropriate $4.8 million for land acquisition at Blackwater NWR, which is one of Dorchester County’s most popular tourist attractions. Blackwater NWR and other tourist designations in Dorchester County support more than 600 jobs and approximately $6 million in state and local tax revenues.