WASHINGTON – A bipartisan bill that seeks to empower local and regional stakeholders in fish habitat restoration and conservation passed out of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) yesterday. U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced S. 754, the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (NFHCA) in March.
“When our wildlife thrives, so do our ecosystems and our local economies,” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of EPW. “Aquatic habitats are a lifeline for our environment, outdoor recreation, and local fishing industries. This bill creates an opportunity to work within our communities to protect and restore the health of waterways like the Chesapeake Bay and its iconic fish and shellfish species. I will continue to work to secure funding for collaborative conservation efforts and I urge the Senate to pass this important legislation.”
“The relationships between local and regional habitat conservation stakeholders with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is critical to maintaining and improving fish habitats,” Senator Crapo said. “The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act will leverage public-private partnerships to empower locally-based groups to restore and protect sustainably healthy fish populations. I thank EPW Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) for moving this legislation today, and look forward to supporting it on the Senate floor soon.”
The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act would improve the availability of financial and technical resources to support local fish habitat conservation efforts by creating a National Fish Habitat Board to facilitate regional partnerships with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The NFHCA would also better coordinate local efforts that will result in the greatest improvements to fish habitat across regional watersheds.
The bill would authorize funds over Fiscal Years 2020-2023 for the U.S. Department of the Interior to fund projects to conserve fish habitats, cover certain planning and administrative expenses, and provide technical and scientific assistance to the National Fish Habitat Board (established through the legislation), Fish Habitat Partnerships and conservation project participants.
It would not impose costs on state, local or tribal governments. The NFHCA is supported by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Trout Unlimited, the American Sportfishing Association, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Nature Conservancy. The bill text can be found HERE.