Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Estuary Protection Act

The Estuary Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1221-1226; P.L. 90-454; August 3, 1968; 82 Stat. 625), highlighted the values of estuaries and the need to conserve their natural resources. It authorized the Secretary of the Interior, in cooperation with other Federal agencies and the States, to study and inventory estuaries of the United States, including land and water of the Great Lakes, and to determine whether such areas should be acquired by the Federal Government for protection. This report to Congress was required by January 30, 1970.

This statute also authorized the Secretary of the Interior to enter into cost-sharing agreements with States and subdivisions for permanent management of estuarine areas in their possession. Federal agencies were required to assess the impacts of commercial and industrial developments on estuaries. Reports submitted to Congress for such projects were required to contain an assessment by the Secretary of the Interior of likely impacts and related recommendations.

The Secretary was also required to encourage State and local governments to consider the importance of estuaries in their planning activities related to Federal natural resource grants. In approving any state grants for acquisition of estuaries, the Secretary was required to establish conditions to ensure the permanent protection of estuaries, including a condition that the lands not be disposed of without the prior approval of the Secretary.

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