November 7, 2005
Contact: “Duke” Welter, 715-579-7538, or Laura Hewitt, 608-250-3534
Arlington, VA – A conference committee has approved an appropriation to help with the restoration of the Midwest’s Driftless Area.
The committee approved $263,000 for conservation practices in the Driftless Area in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The funding is included in the conservation budget of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). At the request of Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, the U.S. Senate had originally approved $350,000 for the work in its agriculture appropriations bill.
"This appropriation is a positive step forward for conservation work in the Driftless Area," said John “Duke” Welter, a member of Trout Unlimited’s National Board of Trustees from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. "We recognize the conference committee needed to make tough decisions, but we're pleased to see they kept the bulk of the proposal in place."
The Driftless Area is considered by many to be a national treasure with its unique limestone formations, springs and small trout streams. Bypassed by the last glacier, the region lies within the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Land use practices in the 1800s and early 1900s led to wide scale erosion, flooding and the altering of its streams and valleys. Though conditions have improved, impacts from past damage continue today in many forms, especially on the streams and rivers in the region.
Trout Unlimited has been one of the leading organizations in the efforts to restore streams and rivers in the Driftless Area. In addition to its volunteer stream restoration work, earlier this year TU released a report (The Driftless Area: A Landscape of Opportunities) calling for the wide-scale restoration of the streams and rivers of the region, which will bring enormous environmental and economic benefits to local communities.
Welter said that he hopes that this appropriation will lead to others that will help with restoration in the entire four-state Driftless Area. “Funding for restoration in the Driftless Area is one of the best investments the federal government can make with its conservation dollars,” he said.