Bush Administration Commits to Increasing Wetlands Nationwide
President Bush celebrated Earth Day 2004 by announcing an aggressive new national goal to achieve an overall increase of America's wetlands each year. The President's goal is to restore, improve and protect at least three million additional acres of wetlands over the next five years.
"The Bush Administration is committed to enhancing America's valuable wetlands and will continue to provide regulatory protection," said EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt. "We will partner with federal, state, local, and private entities to meet the President's goal of increasing the quantity and quality of wetlands nationwide."
EPA is responsible for working with the Army Corps of Engineers and states to implement the Clean Water Act Section 404 wetlands permit program. EPA continues to take a lead role in implementing the key strategies identified in the Administration's National Wetlands Mitigation Action Plan. In addition, the President's 2005 budget proposes to increase EPA funding by five million dollars for grants to states that will help them address the gaps in wetlands protection.
The Administration is currently implementing 30 programs to protect and restore millions of acres of our nation's wetlands. These include the Food Security Act's "Swampbuster" requirements and the Wetlands Reserve Program, both under the authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. EPA programs include its "Five-Star Restoration" grant program and the National Estuary Program. Other federal wetlands programs include: the Fish and Wildlife Service's "Partners in Wildlife" program, the National Marine Fisheries Service's Coastal Wetlands Restoration Program and the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, composed of the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture, the Administrator of EPA and Members of Congress.