Robust Funding for CSF Priorities Contained in House Transportation Bill

Highlights

  • Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684), which included notable investments for sporting access and conservation.
  • The bill authorizes investments in several priorities for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) including the Federal Lands Transportation Program, the Federal Lands Access Program, and an innovative wildlife crossings pilot program.

Why it matters: The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has long advocated for the inclusion of significant investments in any transportation and infrastructure package to enhance access and to improve our nation’s conservation efforts. Infrastructure is not only defined in terms of “gray infrastructure,” such as roads and bridges, as Congress has long recognized the need to support and fund “natural infrastructure,” which is demonstrated by the provisions included in the INVEST in America Act.

Earlier this year, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and partners sent a letter to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee urging the adoption of several critically important access and conservation programs. The inclusion of several CSF priorities in the INVEST in America Act represents a significant step forward in the 117th Congress toward enacting many of CSF’s longstanding infrastructure and transportation priorities.

One provision contained in the INVEST in America Act of notable interest to CSF is the inclusion of adequate funding to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions on our nation’s roadways. Specifically, the INVEST in America Act authorizes $100 million annually for five years to construct infrastructure with the goal of reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions. It is widely believed that current reports for wildlife-vehicle collisions – 300,000 annually – are severely underreported as the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates there are one to two million collisions annually between vehicles and large animals. In 2018, approximately 200 Americans died from collisions with wildlife, and it is estimated the costs associated with wildlife-vehicle collisions is $8 billion annually.

The INVEST in America Act also authorizes $345 million annually for five years for the Federal Lands Access Program, which provides funding to “improve transportation facilities that provide access to, are adjacent to, or are located within Federal lands.”  The INVEST in America Act includes a call for a $555 million annual investment in the Federal Lands Transportation Program for a period of five years, which is a multi-agency program that helps restore and maintain roads managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation, among others.

While CSF is excited to see this inclusion, most of the funding in the Federal Lands Transportation Program provision is dedicated to the National Park Service. The Army Corps of Engineers alone supports 14% of all recreational freshwater fishing visits in the U.S. Overall, the Army Corps of Engineers supports more than 270 million recreational visits each year. Additionally, BLM, USFWS, and USFS lands and waters support more than 25 million hunting days and nearly 45 million fishing days annually, a clear indicator of their importance to America’s sportsmen and women. As such, CSF encourages Congress to dedicate more money for those land management agencies of relevance to America’s sportsmen and women.

The INVEST in America awaits further action in the House of Representatives where CSF will work to secure additional priorities such as reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.

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