October 26, 2023
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (Association) applauds Congress for advancing the Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver Reauthorization Act (WILD Act, HR 5009) and the Chesapeake Bay Science, Education, and Ecosystem Enhancement Act of 2023 (SEEE Act, H.R. 4770). On Thursday, October 26, the House Committee on Natural Resources favorably reported both bills to the full House by unanimous consent.
“We thank Chairman Westerman (R-AR) and Ranking Member Grijalva (D-AZ) for their leadership to advance these bills through the Committee,” said Chuck Sykes, Director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and President of the Association. “These programs put boots on the ground to carry out transformational, grassroots-led conservation projects, and we ask for swift passage of these bills by the full House.”
Once enacted, the WILD Act will reauthorize the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (Partners Program), and the SEEE Act will reauthorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Chesapeake Bay office and provide much-needed resources for conservation work in the region.
“We are grateful to Representatives Sarbanes (R-MD), Scott (D-VA), Wittman (R-VA), and Kiggans (D-VA) for reintroducing the SEEE Act and supporting vital restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay,” said Ron Regan, Executive Director of the Association. “Regional partnerships advancing watershed-scale restoration highlight what can be accomplished when state and federal agencies collaborate across shared jurisdictional boundaries.”
The Association also thanks Representatives Joyce (R-OH) and Dingell (D-MI) for championing the WILD Act, which would reauthorize and improve administrative flexibility for the Multinational Species Conservation Funds in addition to reauthorizing the Partners Program.
“Since its inception in 1987, the Partners Program has enabled restoration of more than six million acres of habitat by bringing together state, federal, tribal, and private partners,” said Robert Caccese, Director of Policy, Planning, and Communications for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. “Last year alone, the program aided completion of more than 1800 projects and leveraged every federal dollar spent on projects with almost 4 dollars in partner contributions.”
The Association urges expedited passage and enactment of H.R. 5009 and H.R. 4770, made all the more critical with the Partners Program and Multinational Species Conservation Funds currently set to expire at the end of the year.
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.