TWS signs on to NMBCA reauthorization support letter

By Jamila Blake

©Caleb Putnam

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), along with nine cosponsors (8D, 1R), introduced a bill (S. 1537) to reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA).

NMBCA was enacted in 2000 and established a grant program which began funding projects to conserve populations and habitats of neotropical migratory birds in 2002. The grant program’s authorization expired in 2012, but has continued to receive funding in annual appropriations bills from Congress. Reauthorization of the program would ensure conservation efforts for neotropical migratory birds — species that breed in the U.S. and Canada and spend the non-breeding season in Latin America or the Caribbean — are fully supported throughout the Americas through continued appropriations.

On Jul. 18, eight organizations — including The Wildlife Society — sent a letter expressing their support for reauthorization and urging the Senate Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife to advance Cardin’s bill.

The letter describes the successes of NMBCA in generating successful partnerships that leverage federal funding to further conservation. NMBCA funded projects receive federal funds that must be matched by non-federal contributions (3:1), but the program has received more than $58 million in federal funding and over $221 million from non-federal partners leading to nearly a four-to-one match ratio. These projects have positively affected more than 4.2 million acres of habitat.

The letter also highlights the importance of conservation actions for neotropical migrants and the significant threats they face. According to the letter, bird species throughout the Americas have experienced significant population declines. Efforts funded by NMBCA help birds like the golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) from reaching threatened or endangered status.

Reauthorization of NMBCA is also proposed in the Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation for Wildlife Act (HELP for Wildlife Act), S. 1514. This bill, introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), also seeks to reauthorize programs like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Act. A hearing was held by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Jul. 19, discussing various aspects of the bill including provisions regarding gray wolf management.

Jamila Blake is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Wildlife Policy and Programs team. Read more of Jamila's articles here.