August 13, 2021
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies commends the Senate for advancing high priority conservation provisions included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This week, the full Senate approved the bipartisan infrastructure package by a vote of 69-30, priming reauthorization for critical programs including the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund and the Abandoned Mine Land Trust Fund while creating historic funding sources for terrestrial and aquatic species passage.
“On behalf of our state agencies and the nation’s millions of hunters and anglers they serve, we thank the Senate and the bipartisan negotiators behind this package for their commitment to conservation,” said Sara Parker Pauley, Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “We thank the Senate Committee on Commerce for advancing reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund through 2026, particularly Committee Chair Cantwell and Ranking Member Wicker for their leadership.”
For over 70 years, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund has provided funding for important aquatic conservation, access, and safety projects. This reauthorization will direct more than $650 million of user-generated fees every year to make sure this critical work can continue.
“Building even further on the successful legacy of Dingell-Johnson, the additional funding provided for aquatic organism passage is a generational victory for conservation and these provisions will set the stage for the development of ecologically and economically sustainable infrastructure for years to come,” added Parker Pauley.
“This legislation is filled with the foresight we need to meet unprecedented challenges,” said Ron Regan, Executive Director for the Association. “We are deeply grateful to Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Capito, and the Committee on Environment and Public Works for recognizing and providing for the needs of terrestrial and aquatic species within transportation funding. Habitat connectivity provisions like the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program offer the best possible return on investment for Americans, ensuring multi-benefit solutions to critical issues of public safety, infrastructure resilience, and robust species populations.”
The bill would authorize over $1 billion in funding for hydro connectivity projects and create a $350 million competitive grants program for wildlife crossing structures. Connectivity on waterways and across our nation’s highways will mitigate the $8 billion annual cost associated with wildlife vehicle collisions while saving human lives, providing for the safe movement and genetic diversity of species, reducing flooding risk, and improving water and habitat quality.
The Association would also like to thank Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources for including reauthorization of the Abandoned Mine Land Trust Fund, which states rely on to fund billions of dollars in outstanding projects critical to ensuring water quality, public safety, and the health of species and habitats. Additionally, the bill would authorize hundreds of millions of dollars to combat invasive species, fund critical water infrastructure, and provide for other ecosystem resilience and restoration projects.