Transcript for Wetlands Regained, segment 03 of 8

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One of the last native wetlands is the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge complex, comprising the San Luis and Kesterson Refuges. As many as two hundred different species of birds have been sighted here.

The complex is one of eight wildlife management areas in the Central Valley. Some are federal or state-owned. Others are private. Most government-owned lands are managed for wildlife, including habitat for wintering waterfowl. Many privately-owned lands are managed as winter or seasonal wetlands and are grazed during dry months. Many adjoining lands have been developed for agriculture. Nearby the once sleepy communities of Los Banos, Gustine, and Merced are expanding.

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Regrettably, as wetlands are converted to other uses, feathered migrants return each year to find less and less habitat to feed and shelter them. Some are in danger of disappearing forever.

Because most of the birds that winter in the Central Valley nest and raise their young in Canada, these birds must have enough quality habitat in both countries to survive. Habitat is vital not only as winter refuge but also as a source of protein, calcium, and other nutrients needed for successful spring migration and the initiation of nesting. Recognizing that habitat is crucial to waterfowl populations, in nineteen eighty-six, the United States and Canada signed the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Its aim is to restore waterfowl populations on the North American continent to levels that existed during the nineteen seventies by creating and improving habitat.

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