WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oct. 1, 2020 – The United States House of Representatives unanimously passed the bipartisan America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act today, which affects many important wetland habitat and wildlife conservation programs. The legislation, previously passed by the Senate, will now be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
The package includes several important conservation measures, including reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD) Act, reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Program and reauthorization of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, among other provisions.
"The passage of the ACE Act today is fantastic news for the conservation community," said DU CEO Adam Putnam. "In a package filled with several vitally important conservation provisions, perhaps none are more crucial to waterfowl habitat than the reauthorization of NAWCA. Thank you to all the Members of Congress who have identified the importance of conservation and worked with DU and others to achieve one of our highest legislative priorities. We’re elated to see such game-changing legislation pass both chambers of Congress, and we stand ready to help implement this important piece of America’s conservation legacy once the President signs it into law."
Instrumental in the passage of the ACE Act through both chambers of Congress was Senator Martin Heinrich (NM), a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (MBCC).
"A hundred years from now, people are going to look back at this time in Congress and talk a lot about the challenges, the changes, and strife. And then they’re going to see some bright spots. What we’ve been able to accomplish for habitat, for wildlife, and for public lands in this year alone has been remarkable—and that includes passing the ACE Act," said Heinrich. "Our public lands and outdoor recreation are a uniting force and Ducks Unlimited has been an incredible partner in these efforts. Together, we will continue our work to conserve wildlife and ecosystems, enhance opportunities for outdoor recreation, and put people back to work restoring our public lands."
"The passage of the ACE Act is an absolute slam dunk for the conservation community," said DU New Mexico State Chairman Bubba Jones. "We couldn’t have gotten this far without the tireless efforts of Senator Heinrich. He played an active role in passing this critical legislation through both chambers of Congress, and he has proven himself time and again to be a true champion of conserving and restoring important waterfowl habitat in New Mexico and across the country."
NAWCA is a voluntary matching grant program that leverages non-federal and federal funds for wetland restoration. Since enactment in 1989, NAWCA has conserved more than 30 million acres and created an average of 7,500 new jobs annually. Every dollar spent by the federal government, on average, receives a $3 match from program partners like Ducks Unlimited. NAWCA is the nation’s most successful wetlands conservation program. The ACE Act reauthorizes NAWCA at $60 million a year until 2025.
In addition to NAWCA reauthorization, the ACE Act also creates or reauthorizes other conservation programs that support waterfowl habitat in important wildlife ecosystems across the country.
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and, historically, one of the most productive bodies of water in the world. The Chesapeake Bay program is a unique regional partnership, managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whose mission is to reverse the degradation of the bay and restore its watershed and wildlife. The ACE Act reauthorizes appropriations for the Chesapeake Bay Program at $90 million through 2025.
The Chesapeake WILD Act will create a grant program within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to support habitat restoration in the Chesapeake Bay region. In addition, the Secretary of Interior must work with federal, state and local agencies and organizations to identify, prioritize and implement restoration activities within the watershed.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is also reauthorized under the ACE Act. NFWF leverages public funds to raise private dollars that help sustain and restore important wildlife habitat across the nation, including more than 18,600 projects since its creation in 1984.
For more information, visit www.ducks.org, and be sure to Follow DU’s Twitter feed – @DUNews1937 – to get the most up-to-date news from Ducks Unlimited.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved nearly 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.