November 2, 2021
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (Association) commends Congress and the White House for their continued commitment to improving fish and wildlife habitat and habitat connectivity. By including critical conservation priorities within pending legislative packages, they have once again reaffirmed their commitment to empowering state and federal agencies to conserve and restore healthy habitats and species for future generations.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (HR 3684) will fulfill long-running priorities for the Association and its conservation partners, including the authorization of $350 million in competitive grants for wildlife crossings structures and over $1 billion in funding for hydro connectivity projects and aquatic organism passage. Once enacted, the bill will reauthorize the Sport Fish and Restoration Boating Trust Fund, directing $650 million annually in user-generated fees on fishing equipment and motorboat and small engine fuels to fund restoration of aquatic habitats, provide recreational access, and educate the public on boating safety. In addition, the Abandoned Mine Land Trust Fund will be reauthorized, which is used by states to address billions of dollars in outstanding projects at the center of water quality, public safety, and species health issues.
“This legislation will be a monumental step forward for the future of conservation and America as a whole,” said Tony Wasley, Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “Critical programs like the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund are foundational to our ability to responsibly steward fish, wildlife, and their habitats. We thank the champions behind these provisions and the leadership of the House and Senate, as well as the White House, for recognizing that the hunters and anglers who provide the backbone for our system of conservation are vital to our national and local economies.”
Further, the Build Back Better Act (HR 5376) in its current form would enable a multitude of benefits for fish, wildlife, and their habitats by authorizing additional funding for many conservation programs supported by the Association. These include funds for mapping and conserving wildlife corridors, protecting and restoring grassland habitats, and increased resources for projects on National Wildlife Refuge Systems and State Wildlife Management Areas. The bill would also provide funding for marine fisheries and hatcheries as well as address urgent needs for wildfire risk reduction. The Association is also encouraged by Congress’ and the Administration’s recognition of the need for increased funding for coastal resilience among the states, as well as their support for farm bill conservation programs that continue to be successfully implemented by the Department of Agriculture in partnership with state agencies.
“Multi-benefit solutions building on the success of proven conservation strategies are essential to securing public safety and healthy habitats and populations,” said Ron Regan, Executive Director for the Association. “We look forward to continuing to work with both sides of the aisle and the Administration to secure enactment of these provisions and other conservation legislation, including the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act of 2021.”
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.