CSF Hosts Capitol Hill Breakfast Briefing
Just one day after the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act was introduced in both the House and Senate, Members of Congress, their staff, and fish conservation experts convened on Capitol Hill for a Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) Breakfast Briefing to encourage advancing this priority legislation through Congress.
On the House side, this legislation was introduced by Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC) Vice-Chair Congressman Marc Veasey (TX) and CSC Member Congressman Rob Wittman (VA), and on the Senate side, a similar bill (S. 754) was introduced by CSC Member Senator Mike Crapo (ID) and Senator Ben Cardin (MD).
The National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) concept was first developed in 2001 by the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council to enhance public-private partnerships for fisheries conservation efforts. Today, the NFHP has grown to 20 partnerships with numerous stakeholders, including federal, state, and local agencies; conservation and other sportsmen's groups; private landowners; and businesses. Working together, the partnership mission is to implement the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. Congressional authorization through this legislation would codify the roles of involved parties and help secure an avenue for consistent funding for on-the-ground fish and aquatic habitat conservation in the states.
During the Breakfast Briefing, CSC Vice-Chair Senator John Boozman (AR) welcomed attendees, followed by CSC Member Congressman Rob Wittman (VA), who explained the need for this legislation.
"Along with the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus Co-Chair Marc Veasey, we have introduced the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act to make sure we are continuing the partnerships for [more than 800] critical habitat projects," said Rep. Wittman. "There are about 800,000 jobs that are directly associated with fisheries and fishing opportunities, so we know the impact that this has in communities and that there is a direct economic tie. This is an effort that is worthy of our time to make sure that federal dollars are available for these partnerships to restore and maintain fish habitat."
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism Fisheries Division Director Doug Nygren explained the importance of this program from the state perspective. "This is a program to put money on the ground at the local level, which will be driven at the local level rather than top down," said Nygren. "But there are benefits beyond the funding; the National Fish Habitat Partnership has really increased people's interest in helping us do fish habitat work through volunteerism. It enhances the cooperation of our partners nationwide who get together and talk about their successes in one area and bring those success stories back to use them in their states."
Additional speakers from the conservation community included Christy Plumer of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Mike Leonard of American Sportfishing Association.
Breakfast Briefing sponsors included: American Fisheries Society, American Sportfishing Association, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and Trout Unlimited.
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