Wildlife Subcommittee discusses conservation bills

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife considered several conservation bills last week, including one that would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

The “North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act” (H.R. 925) would extend the authorization of appropriations for wetlands conservation projects under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act through fiscal year 2024, allowing funding of up to $60 million per year. Stephen Guertin, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deputy director for policy, spoke in favor of the bill, noting that “NAWCA is the only federal grant program dedicated to the conservation of wetland habitats for migratory birds.”

The “North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act” was approved by the full committee the following day and now goes the House floor for a vote. Since 1989, NAWCA grants totaling more than $1.73 billion have funded 2,950 conservation projects, benefitting more than 30 million acres of habitat across the U.S.

Last month, The Wildlife Society joined nearly three dozen other organizations — all members of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners — to send a letter to the leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee supporting science-based conservation. One of the bills mentioned in that letter as a high priority for the organizations was the “North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act.”

“NAWCA is a vital program enabling wildlife professionals to conserve wetlands and the wildlife that depend on them,” said Caroline Murphy, AWB®, government relations manager at The Wildlife Society. “We thank the Natural Resources Committee for their action on this crucial bill and encourage the House to pass it as soon as possible.”

The subcommittee also discussed the “Safeguarding America’s Future and Environment Act” (H.R. 2748), a bill supported by The Wildlife Society, which would establish an integrated national approach to climate change and its effects on fish and wildlife, as well as the “Protect Our Refuges Act of 2019” (H.R. 2854), which would prohibit the use of neonicotinoids in National Wildlife Refuges.

In addition to these bills and proposals regarding endangered species conservation, the subcommittee also considered legislation to amend the Nutria Eradication and Control Act of 2003 to include $7 million a year for California in the program, which is currently limited to Maryland and Louisiana, as well as a bill to support the conservation of highly endangered amphibians in foreign countries and United States territories.

Header Image: An egret and its prey near Merritt Island, Florida, which received funding through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. ©USFWS