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Administrator Johnson, Ducks Unlimited Pointe-aux-Chenes Dedication, Houma, LA

12/14/2005
    I want to thank you for inviting me to participate in this dedication today.

    On Earth Day 2004, President Bush announced an aggressive new national goal for restoring one of our country’s most precious natural resources – our wetlands.

    Moving beyond a policy of "no net loss," the President's goal is to create, improve, and protect at least three million wetland acres over the next five years in order to increase overall wetland acres and quality.

    We all know that when acting alone, our environmental progress is limited - but with the help of partners like Ducks Unlimited, we are on a path to exceed the President’s commitment.

    Over the last year, roughly 870,000 acres of wetlands have been restored, created, protected and improved. At that pace, we will surpass President Bush's five-year goal by well over 4 million acres.

    To help meet the President’s challenge – federal, state, local, and private organizations have joined together as collaborative partners to work toward increasing the quantity and quality of the nation’s wetlands.

    Today, I would like to thank Ducks Unlimited for their efforts to restore wetlands through their “Wetlands for Tomorrow” campaign … as well as their pledge of $15 million to help restore coastal marshes here in Louisiana.

    It is only through collaborative partnerships – like these with Ducks Unlimited – that we can accelerate the pace of protecting and conserving the nation’s wetlands.

    The dedication of this Ducks Unlimited project signals the beginning of a large marsh restoration effort across Southern Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

    There are good people working to restore these marshes, for the sake of habitat and wildlife, for the sake of our scientific understanding, and for the sake of future generations who will come here to experience this natural treasure.

    Wetlands have been called the nurseries of life. They serve as nesting and feeding places for birds. They serve as home to threatened and endangered species. They serve to clean and purify water, trap pollution, stabilize shore areas, and reduce the impacts of flooding.

    All in all, the health of wetlands is vital to the health of our environment.

    The benefits of these partnerships will go beyond protecting the natural environment … they will protect infrastructure vital to the economy, communities, and transportation in this region and the nation. And, as our friends at Ducks Unlimited will tell you, they will protect the recreational opportunities for those who hunt and fish.

    Instead of being viewed by some as a source of conflict, today EPA is proud to be a source of cooperation by working with our partners to develop the future of environmental stewardship.

    As a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, EPA is supporting the funding for this project under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

    EPA is committed to our nation’s wetlands, and will continue to work closely with our partners in the planning and implementation of coastal Louisiana wetland restoration projects.

    Once again, I would like to thank our partners, Ducks Unlimited, for helping us meet the President’s commitment to protecting our wetlands. By working together, this public-private partnership will protect the health of our shared environment and improve the well-being of current and future generations of Americans.

    Thank you.