On February 5, the House passed H.R. 1620, the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act, on a bipartisan suspension vote. This bill was also contained in H.R. 925, America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act, which recently passed the Senate on unanimous consent in early January.
H.R. 1620, introduced by Representative Elaine Luria (VA), will authorize a total of $455 million over the period of Fiscal Years (FY) 2020-2024, starting at $90 million for FY20 and increasing to $92 million by FY24, for on-the-ground programs to conserve the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. Established in 1983, the Program works with federal, state, and local governments as well as non-governmental organizations and academic institutions with the goal of conserving the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.
The Chesapeake Bay serves as a critical resource for America’s sportsmen and women. It is estimated that nearly one million waterfowl migrate to the Chesapeake for their wintering grounds, or nearly one-third of the Atlantic Coast’s migratory waterfowl population. Furthermore, it is estimated that 70-90 percent of all Atlantic Striped Bass, the region’s most popular fishery, annually spawn in the Chesapeake.
The Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act has also been included in H.R. 925, the ACE Act, which is a comprehensive package that includes many longstanding priorities for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). The swift passage and unanimous consent vote by the Senate is a significant step and clear commitment by the chamber to conserve fish and wildlife, and their associated habitats.
CSF urges the House to advance the ACE Act, H.R. 925, to be signed into law as currently written, which will ensure the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act is also signed into law.
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- Improve hunter and target shooter involvement in regulatory and legislative processes. (9.92%)
- Enact or expand temporary hunter education deferral programs (apprentice license programs, multiyear options, programs for all first-time hunters regardless of age, and programs promoting hunting of multiple game species). (13.40%)
- Offer shooting sports and hunter education as school activities and recreation programs. (63.27%)
- Link existing programming into family-oriented organizations (such as churches and home-school groups) where participants will have the social support to continue. (13.40%)