Walz Leads Bipartisan Conservation Measure to Protect Natural Hunting and Fishing Habitats, Invigorate Outdoor Economy
Washington, DC [7/23/15] – Today, Congressman Tim Walz, Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, introduced bipartisan legislation to protect our natural state treasures and invigorate the outdoor economy. The Sportsmen’s Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Enhancement Act reauthorizes several proven, effective conservation measures to conserve critical hunting and fishing habitat.
“Conservation is vital to protect our lakes, streams, rivers, and forests, as well as invigorating the outdoor economy that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and contributes billions to our economy each year,” said Congressman Walz, Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. “This commonsense bill works to push forward a number of key conservation priorities, which have proven to be effective and enjoy broad support amongst the millions of men and women who comprise the outdoor recreational community. I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan measure to help conserve our natural, national treasures and push our economy forward.”
The Sportsmen’s Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Enhancement Act includes the following:
North American Wetlands Conservation Act Reauthorization (NAWCA): Reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act for another five years. NAWCA is a voluntary land-owner friendly initiative that uses incentives to provide valuable matching grants that leverage federal dollars to protect habitat that is critically important for migratory birds, such as ducks and other wildlife. Over the last 20 years, NAWCA has completed over 2,000 conservation projects to protect 26.5 million acres of habitat. This voluntary program has over 4,500 partners and has leveraged nearly 3 dollars for every dollar spent by the federal government.
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program Act: Reauthorizes a key FWS partnership program which allows the USFWS to provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners to restore, enhance, and manage private land to improve fish and wildlife habitats through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Major goals have been identified by the FWS as core components for the Program: conserving habitat for the benefit of priority fish and wildlife species; broadening and strengthening partnerships; improving information sharing and communication; and, enhancing the Service workforce to with a focus on increased accountability and ensuring agency actions are efficient and effective. Under the language PFWPA is reauthorized until 2020.
National Fish Habitat Initiative (NFHI) Sense of Congress: Expresses the Sense of Congress that the mission of NFHI is to protect, restore, and enhance the Nation’s fish populations through partnerships that foster fish habitat conservation and improve the quality of life for the American people. The National network of Fish Habitat Partnerships promote intact and healthy fish habitats; encourage community-based projects with a goal of ensuring broad diversity of populations; support the economic significance of fish habitat resources and the recreational, subsistence, and commercial fishing linked to these resources in the United States; enactment by Congress of implementing legislation for NFHI would ensure continued Federal support for the ongoing activities of the NFHI partnerships.
Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization (FLTFA): Reauthorizes the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) authority to sell land to private land owners, counties, companies and others for ranching, community development and various projects. This "Land for Land" approach creates jobs and generates funding for BLM, USFS, NPS and USFWS to acquire critical inholdings from willing sellers. The sales revenue allows agencies to acquire high priority lands with important wildlife habitat value and recreational access for hunting and fishing.
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Establishment Act: The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) was established by Congress in 1984 to catalyze private investments to conserve fish, wildlife, and their habitats. Since its inception, NFWF has raised more than $1.4 billion in private contributions and grantee matching funds. When added to the federal funding of $668 million that has been invested through the organization, the total value of NFWF’s commitment to on-the-ground conservation is now more than $2.1 billion. By directing public conservation dollars to the most pressing conservation needs and matching those investments with private contributions, NFWF works with government, nonprofit and corporate partners to find balanced solutions for some of the nation’s toughest conservation challenges with tremendous outcomes for natural resources and local economies. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Establishment Act would provide necessary authorities for the Foundation to ensure its continued success moving forward.
Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act: In 2000, Congress approved the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA) to help protect migratory birds, complementing the wetlands bird conservation accomplished under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act while also supporting efforts to conserve birds throughout their migratory life cycles across the Western Hemisphere. The NMBCA benefits most of the 368 bird species that breed in the continental United States or Canada and spend the winter in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, or South America. The NMBCA’s competitive grant program has helped benefit more than 3.7 million acres of habitat, promoting long-term conservation of neotropical migratory birds through partner-based conservation, supporting hundreds of public-private collaborations and energizing local, on-the-ground conservation efforts. NMBCA funds have also leveraged over $190 million in additional partner funds for these projects, a leverage of federal funds by a factor of over 3:1.
Making Public Lands Public: An authorization that would amend the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act and allocate 1.5% or $10 million, whichever is greater, of LWCF funding to secure public access to existing federal public lands.