top of page

The Migratory Bird Conservation Act is Waived for Border Wall

Legislators decided in 1929 that conservation planning was needed to protect migratory birds. The Migratory Bird Conservation Act (MBCA) created the U.S. Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, whose purpose was to consider and approve the purchase or rental of areas of land or water particularly suitable for the conservation of migratory birds. The Commission is required to meet twice yearly to decide on new purchases of land, and is made up of three members of the U.S. Cabinet, two members each from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and an ex-oficio member from the state in which the land acquisition is being considered. The Commission is tasked with cooperating with local wildlife conservation experts, maintaining and developing conservation refuges, and cooperating with states to enforce these conservation efforts. In 1989, the Commission was given the additional responsibility of authorizing funding to protect, restore, and manage wetlands and other habitats preferred by migrating birds.

Since the MBCA was enacted, over 5 million acres have been purchased with over one billion dollars from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. This money pays for conservation projects which prioritize the purchase, protection, and conservation of wetland habitats and ecosystems. The money comes from four primary sources: the sale of “duck” stamps (with hunting licenses, at wildlife refuges, or online), funds authorized by the Wetlands Loan Act of 1961, import duties on arms and ammunition, and receipts from the sale of refuge admission permits.

The MBCA is one of the 48 federal laws waived to expedite the building of a border wall (click here for a list of all 48 federal laws that have been waived). Waiving this law is not good news for riparian and wetland areas in the Sonoran Desert, which have already been severely impacted by the high temperatures and reduced rainfall associated with climate change. Commission members no longer have to look for or acquire essential habitat for migrating birds, or cooperate with local authorities to enforce conservation plans in the vicinity of the border wall. In southern Arizona, the Buenos Aires and San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuges, and in Texas, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge—all very attractive to migrating birds—are too close to the proposed wall to be protected by the MBCA.

Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives ( and let them know that you oppose waiving The Migratory Bird Conservation Act to expedite construction of a border wall. Click here if you would like to make a donation to help us fight the border wall.

bottom of page