Why we’re watching Congress so closely for this deal to come together
We’d forgive you for losing track of what is at stake for fish and wildlife as House members continue to extend debate and negotiations on two critically important legislative packages: the budget reconciliation bill known as Build Back Better and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Both would be defining victories for this Congress and the administration. And both contain some very big wins for conservation.
A House vote on reconciliation will only push this process to the next step, which is Senate consideration. This is important, since the legislation could clinch once-in-a-generation investments in climate resilience and private land conservation. We hope to have more to share on that as things progress.
But there are numerous conservation provisions in the $1.2-trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal that are top TRCP priorities. And because the legislation passed out of the Senate in August, these would be headed to the president’s desk if the House can agree on final passage. Here’s what we’re rooting for as we watch this process closely:
- $350 million for a first-of-its-kind grant program to construct wildlife-friendly roadway crossings and reconnect fragmented migration corridors.
- $250 million for the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program to improve access to Forest Service public lands and safeguard fish and wildlife habitat from harmful runoff and pollutants caused by roads in disrepair.
- Reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which pays for fisheries conservation, access improvements, and education for anglers and boaters.
- $1.4 billion for natural infrastructure solutions through the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Grant Program.
- $14.65 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program, which supports estuary restoration and stormwater management projects.
- $400 million for WaterSMART grants, with $100 million set aside for natural infrastructure solutions that enhance resilience to drought and wildfires, facilitate water conservation, create new habitat, and improve water quality.
- Significant investments in programs aimed to enhance the resiliency of Western watersheds to climate change and drought, including $300 million to implement the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plans, $3.2 billion to modernize aging agricultural infrastructure and generate benefits for fish and wildlife, and $50 million to support ongoing Endangered Species recovery efforts that sustain habitat for native fish.
Stay tuned to the TRCP blog and social media channels (@theTRCP) for the absolute latest.
Photo of the Capitol by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.