September 23, 2019

House Natural Resources Committee Scheduled to Hold Hearing on Important Conservation Funding Bills

On Tuesday, the House Natural Resources Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on H.R. 925, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), and H.R. 1747, the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act (NFHP).

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act provides matching grants 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.

NAWCA requires that for every federal dollar contributed to the program, a non-federal source must equally match the federal contribution. However, the program is so successful that the program is often matched at a rate of $3 of non-federal money for every $1 of federal money. H.R. 925, introduced by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Member (CSC) Representative Mike Thompson (CA) will reauthorize NAWCA at a rate of $60 million annually for each fiscal years 2020 through 2024.

The National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act, introduced by CSC Member Representative Rob Wittman (VA), will provide $7.2 million annually for each fiscal year from 2019 through 2023 for on-the-ground, locally driven fish habitat conservation projects. Based on a model similar to NAWCA, the National Fish Habitat Partnership is an initiative that began in 2006 and today has over 20 regional, taxonomically specific or system specific partnerships recognized by the board. These localized, “bottom-up” partnerships have proven successful in implementing much needed habitat improvement projects in our streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and coastlines around the country. 

The program is often included in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s annual budget request, but H.R. 1747 would provide Congressional authorization of the program to codify the roles of involved parties and to help secure an avenue for consistent funding for fish and aquatic habitat conservation in the states.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work with CSC Members and the House Natural Resources Committee to advance these longstanding priorities.

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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