WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) welcomed the Senate passage of H.R. 925, America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act, to reauthorize or establish several critical wildlife conservation programs and address the threats of emerging wildlife diseases and invasive species.
The bipartisan legislation includes a provision championed by Senator Heinrich to reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) through 2025 and increase funding for the program to $60 million for each of Fiscal Years 2021 through 2025.
“Hunters, anglers, and other wildlife enthusiasts play a tremendous role in the success of bipartisan action on conservation issues. I’m pleased we were able to advance legislation to reauthorize and increase funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, among several other provisions included in this package to conserve wildlife and habitat and enhance opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said Heinrich.
NAWCA was originally enacted in 1989 to provide federal cost-share funding—in partnership with funding from state and local governments, private industry, and non-profit organizations like Ducks Unlimited—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 last year to reauthorize NAWCA.
“As a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, I am proud to help approve NAWCA grants, and I have been impressed by the program’s demonstrated success in leveraging partnerships to restore essential habitat—including the Middle Rio Grande in New Mexico. NAWCA also supports our thriving multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation economy. We must build on this conservation success to ensure our kids and grandkids will be able to hunt, fish, and enjoy our wildlife,” continued Heinrich.
"Thanks to the dedicated leadership of Senator Heinrich, the Senate has taken a big step toward finalizing some of the most important fish and wildlife priorities in this Congress by passing the America's Conservation Enhancement Act," said Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. "The legislation includes reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the authorization of the National Fish Habitat Conservation through Partnerships Act, two programs that fund some of the best fish and wildlife habitat restoration work in New Mexico and around the nation. The legislation also creates a coordinating task force to help address Chronic Wasting Disease, a major threat to the future of deer and deer hunting in New Mexico. Now that the Senate has acted, it is time for the House of Representatives to move this strongly bipartisan package on to the President's desk."
“At a time when one-third of wildlife species are at heightened risk of extinction and lawmakers struggle to agree on anything, the Senate is again showing that conservation can bring our leaders together to achieve real progress — and we thank Senator Heinrich for his leadership in getting this bill passed. This bill will help restore essential wildlife habitat like wetlands, restore desert fish habitat, help livestock producers coexist with predators, and support our outdoor heritage.” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The House should follow suit and pass these common-sense, bipartisan investments to restore wildlife populations and conserve our natural resources.”
“On behalf of the more than 1,000 members of Ducks Unlimited in New Mexico, we thank Senator Heinrich for his efforts to get this critical piece of conservation passed through the Senate,” said Junior Kerns, State Chairman of Ducks Unlimited in New Mexico. “NAWCA has already invested more than $20 million in New Mexico conserving, protecting and restoring more than 22,000 acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat.”