On September 25, the House Natural Resources Committee voted yes on two important conservation programs which have been a priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC).
H.R. 925, the North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act (NAWCA) and H.R. 1747, the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act (NFHP), are both important pieces of legislation that will authorize funding for the conservation of wetland habitat and fisheries throughout the country.
Introduced by CSC Member Rep. Mike Thompson (CA), H.R. 925 will reauthorize NAWCA at an annual level of $60 million for fiscal years 2020 through 2024. More importantly, reauthorizing NAWCA will provide sportsmen’s conservation organizations the opportunity to leverage funding to protect, restore, and manage critical wetland habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. Enacted in 1989, NAWCA is now in its 30th year, and to date has completed more than 2,833 conservation projects while conserving nearly 30 million acres in all 50 states, Canada and Mexico.
“As recent reports have shown, there have been significant declines in many bird populations throughout North America,” said Jeff Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “However, waterfowl populations have bucked this trend, increasing their numbers by more than 50 percent over the past 50 years thanks in large part to programs like NAWCA and the American hunters’ investment in conservation.”
On the fisheries side, H.R. 1747 was introduced by CSC Member Rep. Rob Wittman (VA) which would authorize $7.2 million in funding for NFHP annually through FY 2023. This legislation will ensure the National Fish Habitat Action Plan is driven by state and local partners and strategically addresses priority aquatic habitat needs, restores fish populations and enhances recreational fishing opportunities. To date, the program has completed more than 840 projects in all 50 states, and non-federal dollars have been leveraged at a 2:1 ratio for every federal dollar spent.
“From native trout recovery in Colorado to salmon management in Alaska to tarpon habitat improvements in Florida, NFHP has shown the ability to bring diverse partners together for the benefit of our nation’s fisheries and its anglers,” said Crane. “The track record is there and it’s now time to codify NFHP in federal law.”
In support of these efforts, CSF submitted a statement for the record as well as a letter from members of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners and a letter from the nations top fishing conservation organizations urging Members of the Committee to vote yes in support of these important conservation programs.
Both of these bills await to be scheduled for a floor vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. CSF will continue to work with members of the CSC to advance these pieces of legislation that are critical to the conservation needs of our nation’s fish, wildlife and habitat.
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?