WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today introduced legislation to reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, which promotes the long-term conservation, education, research, monitoring, and habitat protection for more than 380 species of migratory birds.
Key improvements included in the legislation would lower the required cost-sharing requirement for grant recipients from 3:1 to 2:1, which will make the program more accessible to smaller organizations. The new legislation also would increase the authorized appropriations level from $6.5 million to more than $20 million over five years. These and other strategic refinements will enable the program to better meet the demonstrated demand for program funds and expand the number of local partners involved in the program.
Migratory birds, including Maryland’s state bird, the Baltimore Oriole, and Ohio’s state bird, the Northern Cardinal, continue to face threats from pesticide pollution, deforestation, sprawl, and invasive species that degrade their habitats.
“Migratory birds play a crucial role in our ecosystems, our agriculture, and our national and local cultures,” said Senator Cardin. “The programs funded by the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act have consistent track record of success in helping to sustain populations of migratory birds that face threats to their health and habitats. The reauthorization of this bill marks our continued our commitment to improving our environment and investing in the flora and fauna that help our communities grow and thrive.”
“Hundreds of bird species migrate through Ohio each year, making Lake Erie one of the most popular destinations for birdwatching,” Senator Portman said. “Birding contributes more than $20 million to Ohio’s tourism industry and attracts visitors from across the world each year. Protecting and conserving these bird populations is critically important, and I am proud to work in partnership with Senator Cardin again to reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Program.”
“Birds don’t recognize borders so we must work with our neighbors to protect them wherever they fly,” said Marshall Johnson, chief conservation officer, National Audubon Society. “This legislation will provide more places to nest, winter, and rest for the millions of birds that migrate across farms and forests in Ohio, through backyards and bays in Maryland, to mangroves in Colombia, and beyond.”
“The NMBCA provides essential support to Latin American and Caribbean partners who ensure migratory birds have a place to return in winter after breeding in the U.S. – such as the Cerulean Warbler and Wood Thrush,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy at American Bird Conservancy. “By increasing NMBCA funding and changing the match requirement, we open the door to greater participation from partner groups, as well as larger projects that are more effective at meeting bird conservation needs.”
Established in 2000, The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act has consistently strengthened our federal investment in habitat protection, education, research and monitoring of birds considered neotropical migrants — birds that spend summers in the United States and winter in Latin America. Their presence is been vital to the well-being of our economy. Farmers rely on these birds to consume billions of harmful insects and rodent pests, pollinate crops, and disperse seeds. Nationwide, bird watchers include more than 47 million Americans who are part of a larger wildlife watching community that spends $30 billion annually.
Since 2002, the NMBCA has provided nearly $75 million in grants to support 628 projects in 36 countries. These projects have positively affected approximately 5 million acres of bird habitat and spurred partnerships on multiple levels contributing an additional $286 million.
A wide range of Maryland and Ohio organizations have endorsed the legislation, including:
- National Aquarium
- Audubon Society of Central Maryland
- Delmarva Birding Weekends
- Chesapeake Audubon Society
- Prince George’s Audubon Society
- Maryland Pesticide Education Network
- Safe Skies Maryland
- Maryland Ornithological Society
- Friends of Patuxent Research Refuge
- Assateague Coastal Trust
- Climate XChange
- Audubon Great Lakes
- Grange Insurance Audubon Center
- Columbus Audubon
- Blackbrook Audubon Society
- Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland
- Greater Akron Audubon Society
- Canton Audubon Society
- Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society
- Council of Ohio Audubon Chapters
- Audubon Miami Valley