WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) welcomed the final passage of the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bipartisan bill includes legislation championed by Senator Heinrich that reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) through 2025 and increases funding for the program to $60 million for each of Fiscal Years 2021 through 2025. The ACE Act also reauthorizes the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Establishment Act, reauthorizes or establishes several other key wildlife conservation programs, and helps to address wildlife diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease and combat invasive species.
“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. I am proud to help lead this latest effort to conserve wildlife and ecosystems, enhance opportunities for outdoor recreation, and put people back to work restoring our public lands.”
NAWCA was enacted in 1989 to provide federal cost-share funding—alongside funding from state and local governments, non-profit organizations like Ducks Unlimited, and private industry—to projects that conserve North America’s waterfowl, fish, and wildlife resources. Heinrich, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, along with U.S. Senators John Kennedy (R-La.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced bipartisan legislation in 2019 to reauthorize NAWCA.
Senator Heinrich is also a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, which approves NAWCA grants. NAWCA has demonstrated success in leveraging partnerships to restore key habitat, such as the Middle Rio Grande in New Mexico.
“The ACE Act is an important step towards dealing with the wildlife crisis. So many of our native wildlife species are imperiled—there has been a net loss of nearly three billion birds since 1970—and the impact of climate change on wildlife and habitat is only becoming more severe,” said Heinrich. “By reauthorizing and increasing funding for NAWCA and so many other important provisions in this bill, we will ensure our kids and grandkids will be able to hunt, fish, and enjoy our wildlife for generations to come.”
“Such strong bipartisan action on the ACE Act is thanks to the work of anglers, wildlife advocates, birders, hunters, and other community members,” continued Heinrich.
“Right now, when Washington is divided on so many issues, we are grateful that Congress 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 one-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. Thank you to U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich and all of leaders who helped get this common-sense conservation measure passed.”
“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 Senator Heinrich for his leadership and commitment to passing this critical conservation bill.”
“The passage of the ACE Act today is fantastic news for the conservation community,” said Ducks Unlimited 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.”
“The passage of the ACE Act is an absolute slam dunk for the conservation community,” said Ducks Unlimited 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.”