Washington, DC -- Today, fish and wildlife conservation organizations applauded the historic passage of bipartisan legislation to conserve our nation’s natural resources, from fish and wildlife and their habitats to the vast multitude of species and ecosystems that will benefit from these robust restoration efforts made possible through S. 3051, The America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (ACE Act).
Once enacted, the bill will reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and codify the National Fish Habitat Partnership, two of the most successful conservation efforts in the nation, as well as reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay program. In addition to other crucial provisions, it will establish a task force between state and federal authorities to address Chronic Wasting Disease and ensure states have the authority to regulate types of fishing tackle based on localized effects as needed.
A coalition of organizations, representing millions of hunters, anglers, fish and wildlife professionals, outdoor industries and enthusiasts of all kinds commended the sponsors of this bipartisan legislation for their commitment to fish and wildlife conservation: Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) as well as Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), and Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX).
After previously passing the Senate by unanimous consent on September 16, the full House also passed ACE Act under unanimous consent on October 1, and it now awaits the President’s signature. We strongly encourage the President to sign the bill into law without delay.
“This legislation could not be coming at a more critical time for our nation’s natural resources,” said Sara Parker Pauley, Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “The public’s enthusiasm for nature and use of our lands and waters for outdoor recreation is at an unprecedented level, and we are thankful to Congress for recognizing and acting upon the increased need for conservation programs and funding. These programs will enable those entrusted with managing our natural resources to both address ongoing challenges, and proactively restore and conserve species and habitats before new problems arise.”
“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) applauds the passage of the ACE Act, which builds off the significant successes earlier this Congress including the historic Great American Outdoors Act,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “Simply put, the passage of the ACE Act would not have been possible without the bipartisan and steadfast members in the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, who have once again demonstrated their commitment to America’s sportsmen and women by navigating this important piece of legislation through Congress.”
“The ACE Act is strongly supported by the recreational fishing industry because it includes several provisions that will benefit fisheries conservation, and will safeguard anglers against unwarranted restrictions on their fishing equipment,” said Mike Leonard, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association. “With today’s overwhelming and bipartisan approval of the ACE Act, this Congress is building an even stronger record as one of the most productive Congresses on conservation issues in recent memory.”
“The passage of the ACE Act is a great win for anglers and for fish habitat across the country,” said Steve Moyer, Vice President for Government Affairs at Trout Unlimited. “TU is especially pleased to see the National Fish Habitat Partnership Program, created by state fisheries agencies to improve fish habitat and water quality, is now federally recognized. Thanks to these partnerships, TU is able to leverage program funds often at a 5:1 ratio to improve coldwater habitat for species like the native westslope cutthroat and Eastern brook trout. We thank Congress for its excellent bipartisan, bicameral work to approve this critical legislation.”
“We would like to thank members of Congress for their expedient passage of the ACE Act, which codifies the National Fish Habitat Partnership,” said Ed Schriever, Chair of the National Fish Habitat Board (Idaho Fish & Game). “For us, the passage of this Act represents years of persistence and hard work by many supporters of our program dating back to 2008. We appreciate the efforts of the many organizations in helping to get this bill over the finish line.”
“At a time when many Americans are spending more time outdoors and appreciating our nation’s birds and other wildlife, this commitment by Congress will be a critical boost for birds, other wildlife, and people,” said Jesse Walls, Senior Director, Government Affair of the National Audubon Society. “By reauthorizing the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Chesapeake Bay Program, and more, Congress has ensured crucial support for improving and restoring wetlands and other habitat that serve an important role for not only wildlife, but for the economic health of communities across the country.”
“The passage of the ACE Act today is fantastic news for the conservation community,” said Ducks Unlimited Chief Executive Officer Adam Putnam. “In a package filled with 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.”
“Passage of the ACE Act will not only benefit deer, ducks, fish, and our water quality, but it will also create jobs in conservation and help to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities for millions of Americans just when we need it most,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Sportsmen and women are grateful to both House and Senate leadership, as well as the many champions on both sides of the aisle, for their partnership and commitment to passing this critical conservation bill.”
“This important piece of legislation exemplifies the great collaborative work that can be accomplished when everyone works together for conservation,” said Dan Forster, Vice President & Chief Conservation Officer for the Archery Trade Association. “The archery industry applauds this commitment to proactive conservation investments and wise use of our nation’s valuable natural resources.”
“There is overwhelming and bipartisan support for the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act,” said Jason Rano, Federal Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “Legislators from both parties recognize the importance of clean water and a healthy environment. For us in the Chesapeake Bay region, this broad commitment to a restored Bay and increased funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, as well as for other grant programs that benefit fish and wildlife habitat and clean water, are significant investments that will benefit the health, environment, and economy of the Bay and all those that live, work, and recreate throughout the watershed.”
“This has been a promising year for conservation policy, and we are thrilled to see the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act pass! Following up on the successful passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, ACE now dedicates funding for wildlife habitat including the North American Wetlands Conservation Act which is one of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s most cherished conservation programs.” Said Howard K. Vincent President and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.
The National Fish Habitat Partnerships is critical to improving resilience for the forty percent of all freshwater fish species in North America that are imperiled as a result of pollution, habitat loss, water withdrawals, and invasive species.” said Douglas J. Austen, Ph.D., Executive Director of the American Fisheries Society. “We are so pleased that Congress has recognized the important conservation benefits of this program.”
“Right now, when Washington is divided on so many issues, we are grateful that the U.S. House of Representatives rallied together across party lines to enact bipartisan investments to restore wildlife populations and conserve our outdoor heritage,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “At a time when a third of wildlife face heightened risk of extinction, the ACE Act restores essential fish and wildlife habitat like wetlands and the Chesapeake Bay, eradicates wildlife disease – especially chronic wasting disease, addresses invasive species, and engages the next generation of sportswomen and sportsmen. We urge President Trump to swiftly sign this common-sense conservation measure into law.”