THOUSAND ISLANDS REGION, NEW YORK (WWTI) — Conservationists in the Thousand Islands Region have been awarded millions of dollars to restore wetlands on the St. Lawrence River.

In late September, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced that $34 million in grants was approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. This funding was made available through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. The grants will also be matched by $74 million in partner funds.

As detailed in the North American Wetlands Conservation Act Summary Cycle 2022-1, the St. Lawrence River and Thousand Island III Region will receive $1.32 million from the NAWCA. It will also receive a matching grant from Ducks Unlimited totaling $2.84 million.

This area covers 4,721.30 acres. It is also considered a coastal project as it covers areas spanning from the shores of Lake Ontario in Central New York through to where the St. Lawrence River crosses into Canada in Northern New York.

The St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario are home to extensive coastal wetlands. Conservationists have noted that these wetlands provide filtration for runoff, flood retention and provide food and shelter for wildlife.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, funding through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act aims to increase bird populations and wetland habitat while supporting local economies. Wetlands protected by the Act are claimed to provide “valuable benefits” which include flood control, coastal erosion reductions, water and air quality improvements and groundwater.

The NAWCA was first enacted in 1989. Since then it has funded over 3,100 projects totaling over $1.9 billion in grants. It operates in two cycles per year. With each cycle, eligible proposals are reviewed and ranked by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council.

Program funding comes from appropriations, fines, penalties, and forfeitures; and from interest accrued on the fund. Funds from U.S. Federal sources may contribute towards a project, but are not eligible as a match.

A full breakdown of recent funding can be found on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website.