Why It Matters: The America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Reauthorization Act includes nearly a dozen provisions that seek to enhance the conservation of fish, wildlife, and their associated habitats across North America, while also providing an important protection for our nation’s anglers. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) served as a driving force behind the enactment of the original America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, which passed the House and Senate in 2020 unanimously.
- On Friday, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) Chairman and Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Sen. Carper and EPW Ranking Member and CSC Member Sen. Capito introduced the America’s Conservation Enhancement Reauthorization Act.
- Senators Carper and Capito were joined by CSC Co-Chair John Boozman, CSC members Senators Mullin and Wicker as well as Sens. Cardin, Padilla, Whitehouse, and Van Hollen.
- This comprehensive piece of legislation will reauthorize fish, wildlife, and habitat conservation programs across the nation that are important to sportsmen and women from Fiscal Year 2026 through Fiscal Year 2030.
On Friday, February 9, the America’s Conservation Enhancement Reauthorization Act was introduced in the Senate, a top priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
Notably, the ACE Reauthorization Act will reauthorize important programs and CSF priorities such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Establishment Act, the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships (NFHP) program, and three important programs for the Chesapeake Bay.
The ACE Reauthorization Act will increase the NAWCA authorization level from $60 million annually to $65 million annually. Unfortunately, America has lost roughly 50% of its wetlands. However, NAWCA provides strategic investments to conserving and restoring degraded wetlands across North America. Since inception 35 years ago, NAWCA has provided over $2.1 billion in federal grants that has leveraged nearly $4.3 billion in non-federal contributions. In total, there have been over 3,300 NAWCA projects that have contributed to the conservation of nearly 32 million acres of wetlands in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
The National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships section of the bill is similar to NAWCA but is focused on fisheries habitat. The ACE Reauthorization Act will increase the NFHP authorization from $7.2 million to $10 million annually while also making some changes to reporting and matching requirements. NFHP is a state and locally driven program that leverages partners to conserve priority aquatic habitat needs, restore fish populations, and enhance recreational fishing opportunities.
Additionally, the ACE Reauthorization Act will provide a 5-year protection to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating the use of lead fishing tackle under the purview of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The EPA has consistently reaffirmed state management authority of lead fishing tackle and this legislation will ensure the EPA cannot be petitioned to regulate lead tackle under TSCA for a period of 5 years.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation looks forward to working with the bill sponsors of this important legislation to see this effort get across the finish line in 2024.