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Fredericton – The provincial government will contribute $1.5 million to a new fund dedicated to maintaining the province’s wetlands, Premier Shawn Graham announced yesterday.
The Wetlands Sustainability Fund will enable Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) to carry out ongoing maintenance of infrastructure on wetlands it maintains in New Brunswick. Currently, DUC has 371 projects in the province, covering a combined 20,539 hectares.
“Wetlands occupy a very important place in our natural environment, especially in the provision of clean water and by providing essential habitat for many species of flora and fauna,” said Graham. “Each of the wetland areas maintained by DUC has infrastructure such as dykes that require periodic reinvestments, and this fund will enable DUC to carry out this essential work.”
In New Brunswick, DUC will use capital and interest from the fund to maintain 217 water control structures, 59 fishways and 136 kilometres of dykes located primarily in the St. John River flood plain, the Northumberland Strait coastal plain, and the Tantramar area of the upper Bay of Fundy.
DUC will also contribute to the fund.
Mac Dunfield, senior Atlantic director for DUC, congratulated the government on its leadership in providing funding to protect its wetlands.
“Wetlands are a vital part of New Brunswick’s landscape, and in addition to providing homes for 600 species of wildlife and recreation areas for people, they provide a number of environmental benefits,” said Dunfield. “To see an investment of this magnitude validates the importance of wetlands and the work we do every day. It demonstrates that wetlands and the environment are valued by this government and all New Brunswickers.”
Natural Resources Minister Wally Stiles said that the new partnership is in keeping with the province’s Wetlands Conservation Policy.
“One of the guiding principles of this policy is to promote the acquisition and conservation of wetlands through partnerships with other stakeholders, including the private sector,” said Stiles. “The Department of Natural Resources has a long history of working with DUC to protect wetlands and migratory birds, and this is another example of the strength of that relationship.”
Graham said that work carried out under the fund is expected to generate about 50 jobs annually, mostly in rural New Brunswick. This includes employment for local heavy equipment contractors, suppliers of construction materials, and workers needed to maintain and rebuild water control structures, fishways, earth dykes and other infrastructure.
DUC is Canada’s premier wetland conservation organization, and has been conserving, restoring and managing wetlands and associated habitats since its inception in 1938.
Over the past 40 years, DUC has invested $85 million to conserve more than 40,460 hectares of critically important wetlands in the four Atlantic provinces, including about $40 million in New Brunswick.
Graham said that establishing a dedicated fund to maintain infrastructure will safeguard the long-term sustainability of these wetlands. “This partnership will ensure that these wetlands are maintained for years to come, and are an important environmental contributor to a self-sufficient New Brunswick,” said Graham.