A package of bills introduced today has bipartisan support and will benefit habitat, access, and conservation funding
Only hours ahead of their departure for the Fourth of July recess, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), and a bipartisan group of senators introduced S. 1514, a strong package of bills that would benefit fish and wildlife habitat nationwide, while funding critical watershed restoration efforts in the Mid-Atlantic and improving access for recreational shooters on public lands.
The legislation would:
- Reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act—a grant program through which each federal dollar invested is matched an average of three times over by non-federal dollars—at $50 million annually through 2022.
- Authorize the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, which was created to foster partnerships that improve conditions for fish species and enhance recreational fishing opportunities.
- Reauthorize the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the nation’s largest conservation grant-maker.
- Reauthorize Chesapeake Bay restoration program at $90 million per year through 2022.
“What makes this effort different from sportsmen’s packages of the more recent past is that, right from the outset, it deals with meaningful conservation priorities by reauthorizing and instituting programs that will actually enhance fish and wildlife populations, habitat, and access,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We applaud Sen. Barrasso, Sen. Cardin, Sen. Boozman, Sen. Klobuchar, Sen. Capito, and Sen. Baldwin for their leadership and recognition of what American hunters and anglers value.”
The legislation is not without controversy, but a provision to delist gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes has bipartisan support from lawmakers and has been recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “When we take recovered species off the list, we strengthen the Endangered Species Act by making truly endangered species a priority—species shouldn’t stay on the list forever,” adds Fosburgh. “We trust in state fish and wildlife agencies to manage wildlife, and science indicates this is the next step for wolves.”
With the bipartisan support of the Chairman and members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, this legislation has a good chance of moving forward quickly.