The United States Senate unanimously passed the bi-partisan America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act this week, which affects many important wetland habitat and wildlife conservation programs. The legislation will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The package includes reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD) Act, the Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act, and reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Program, among other provisions.
“The swift passage of the ACE Act through the Senate is a great start to the new year and represents a breakthrough for some of DU’s most important policy priorities, such as NAWCA,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “The Senate has done their part and advanced this legislation to the House of Representatives, and we urge Congressional leaders to vote on this important conservation package as soon as possible.”
NAWCA is a voluntary matching grant program that leverages non-federal and federal funds for wetland restoration. Since enactment in 1989, NAWCA has conserved more than 30 million acres and created an average of 7,500 new jobs annually. Every dollar spent by the federal government, on average, receives a $3 match from program partners like Ducks Unlimited. NAWCA is the nation’s most successful wetlands conservation program. The ACE Act reauthorizes NAWCA at $60 million a year until 2025.
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and, historically, one of the most productive bodies of water in the world. The Chesapeake Bay Program is a unique regional partnership, managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whose mission is to reverse the degradation of the bay and restore its watershed and wildlife. The ACE Act reauthorizes appropriations for the Chesapeake Bay Program at $90 million through 2025.
The Chesapeake WILD Act will create a grant program within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to support habitat restoration in the Chesapeake Bay region. In addition, the Secretary of Interior must work with federal, state and local agencies and organizations to identify, prioritize and implement restoration activities within the watershed.
The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act directs a federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition purchased by sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts and directs it toward a Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund to aid the efforts of state entities to manage habitat and conserve wildlife populations. The Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act will provide state agencies with greater flexibility to manage and distribute resources allocated through the fund and enable the use of resources to recruit and educate the next generation of hunters and outdoorsmen.