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Heinrich, Kennedy Bipartisan Legislation to Restore Wetlands and Migratory Bird Habitat Passes Senate

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, and John Kennedy (R-La.) announced that their bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) through 2028 has passed the Senate as part of the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Reauthorization Act of 2024. The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Our bipartisan legislation will bolster our nation’s most successful public-private conservation partnership, and I'm thrilled that it has now passed the Senate," said Heinrich. "Our legislation will improve access to clean drinking water, invest in our thriving multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation economy, and conserve New Mexico’s wildlife and the habitats they depend on for future generations. The House should take up this important legislation and send it to President Biden’s desk.”

“Renewing the North American Wetlands Conservation Act is critical to preserving Louisiana’s outdoorsman culture, unique wildlife and natural environment. The House should move quickly to send this important bill to the president’s desk,” said Kennedy.

NAWCA was originally enacted in 1989 to provide federal matching grants—in partnership with funding from state and local governments, private industry, and non-profit organizations—for projects that conserve North America’s wetlands, waterfowl, and wildlife. In addition to reauthorizing this critical program until 2030, this legislation also increases authorized annual funding for the program to $65 million.

New Mexico has 12 NAWCA projects either completed or underway, which have conserved 22,632 acres of wildlife habitat. NAWCA funding of more than $5.5 million stimulated partner contributions of over $15 million in the state.

About NAWCA: 

Wetlands secure freshwater supplies, recharge aquifers, and mitigate soil erosion and flooding. In addition, waterfowl, migratory birds, fish, and other wildlife depend on wetlands for habitat, food, and migration stopovers. This wildlife also supports a multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation economy, including fishing, wildlife viewing, and photography. NAWCA funding has been critical to acquiring, restoring, and enhancing wetlands in all 50 states, Canada, and Mexico. In total, more than 3,300 NAWCA projects have contributed to the conservation and restoration of more than 32 million acres of wetlands all across North America.

NAWCA has provided a great return on investment, generating, on average, two additional dollars for every federal dollar. Over the program’s history, federal grants totaling more than $2.1 billion have spurred $4.3 billion for NAWCA projects through matching funds. NAWCA funds have also supported an average of 7,500 jobs each year and more than $5 billion in annual economic activity. 

The legislation was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act is endorsed by Ducks Unlimited, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Wildlife Federation,Delta Waterfowl, Boone and Crockett, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Audubon, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Outdoor Industry Association, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Restore America’s Estuaries.

A one-page summary of the bill is here.

The text of the bill is here.