March 22, 2017

Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Leaders Promote Wetlands Conservation Grant Program

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) hosted its first Capitol Hill policy briefing of 2017, on March 22, on the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). The briefing was attended by Members of Congress and their staff, as well as representatives from sportsmen’s and other conservation groups.

NAWCA is a unique, voluntary-based competitive matching grant program that leverages non-federal to federal funds in excess of a 2:1 ratio, to protect, restore, and manage wetlands and associated habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife. NAWCA has conserved over 33.4 million acres and creates an average of 7,500 new jobs annually. Despite bipartisan support, the program has not been reauthorized since 2012.

CSC Co-Chair Congressman Gene Green (TX) and CSC Vice-Chair Congressman Austin Scott (GA) introduced the topic. “NAWCA is key to [conserving our hunting lands]. It provides matching grants for wetlands conservation projects across the United States and is an essential program for protecting our wildlife habitats,” said Rep. Green.

Also in attendance was CSC Member Congressman Mike Thompson (CA), a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, who discussed the importance of reauthorizing NAWCA. “This has widespread support from across the country from businesses to conservation organizations, and other hunting and fishing organizations. So it’s a win-win,” said Rep. Thompson. “Congressman Rob Wittman and I have [developed] bipartisan legislation to reauthorize NAWCA, and we need more people to sign-on and get this over the finish line.”

CSF President Jeff Crane said, “Not only is this is an important program for those of us who like to hunt ducks and geese; it’s also about conserving wetlands, riparian areas and our country’s landscapes, as well as protecting water quality. Supporting reauthorization of this legislation is important for conservation.”

“For over three decades, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act has been the premier wetlands conservation program across the United States. In order for this program to continue, we need the support of both the House and Senate as well as every sportsman and woman who wants to pass on their hunting and fishing legacy to the next generation,” said Whitney Tawney, Senior Water Policy Advisor for Ducks Unlimited (DU).

The briefing concluded with a personal story about hunting and wetlands conservation by Duane Arnister, New York State Chairman for DU, and a Canada goose and duck call demonstration by Fred Zink of Zink Calls.

This briefing was sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, and The Nature Conservancy. 

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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