David Eisenhauer (202) 208-5631
As Congress wrapped up business before adjourning on September 29th, they approved a number of bills related to wildlife conservation. This week, President Bush signed these bills into law.
"We are pleased to see the Congress acting on so many legislative issues that move conservation forward," said Dale Hall, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "These laws enhance our work with partners to implement on the ground conservation efforts."
Highlights include passage of S. 260, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act, which authorizes the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, a successful cooperative conservation program that provides funding to private landowners to conduct conservation activities on public lands. The program has grown over the years, and current appropriations exceed $50 million. The Act provides official endorsement of the existing U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners program, which provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners to enhance wildlife habitat on their lands. The program will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year and has become extremely popular with landowners and conservationists alike.
Another important bill that passed is H.R. 5539, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act Reauthorization. Commonly referred to as NAWCA, this law reaffirms a popular program that funds wetlands conservation across North America, including Canada and Mexico. The program receives appropriations exceeding $40 million per year that are matched well beyond the 1:1 match required in the law. The North American Wetlands Conservation Act was reauthorized at a funding level of $75 million through fiscal year 2011.
President Bush also signed S. 2430, the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act. This bill amends the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act of 1990 to provide for implementation of recommendations made in the Great Lakes Fishery Resources Restoration Study. The new law authorizes $14 million per year through 2112 for restoration projects, including regional projects that cross state boundaries and focus on high priority restoration activities. The law also gives the Service the lead for selecting the projects to be funded and authorizes an additional $2 million per year to administer the grant program.
A dozen other bills dealing with wildlife issues were passed. These include:
- H.R. 5281, the National Fish Hatchery System Volunteer Act - Enhances an existing Fish and Wildlife Service volunteer program to help promote community partnerships for the benefit of national fish hatcheries and fisheries program offices. Similar to the National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Act of 2003, the bill provides that donations can be made to hatcheries to assist with restoration and conservation efforts.
- S. 1410, the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Reauthorization - The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Fund provides technical and cost-sharing grant assistance to partners in the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean for conservation of neotropical migratory bird species and their habitats. The bill expands the current program to include Canada and reauthorizes this popular grant program at $5 million per year through 2010.
- S. 1250, the Great Apes Conservation Act Reauthorization - The Great Apes Conservation Fund provides technical and cost-sharing grant assistance to range countries for conservation of great apes and their habitats. The bill reauthorizes this popular grant program at $5 million per year through 2010.
- H.R. 4957, the Tylersville Fish Hatchery Conveyance Act - Directs the Secretary of the Interior to convey the Tylersville division of the Lamar National Fish Hatchery and Fish Technology Center in Loganton, PA to the State of Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has operated the Tylersville Fish Hatchery since 1984 and will now have ownership of the facility that produces around 525,000 adult brook, rainbow, and brown trout per year.
- H.R. 1428, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Reauthorization Act - Established by Congress in 1984, the Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization devoted to creating public-private partnerships in order to strategically invest in voluntary conservation projects. The bill reauthorizes the Foundation at current funding levels through 2010 ($25 million from the Department of the Interior and $5 million from the Department of Commerce).
- S. 2014, the Ed Fountain Park Land Transfer Act - Directs the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, to convey a specified administrative site in Las Vegas, Nevada from the Service to the City of Las Vegas for use as a park or any other recreation or nonprofit-related purpose.
- H.R. 5232, the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge Study Act - Authorizes an evaluation of fish and wildlife habitat in southeastern Monroe County, PA for possible inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
- H.R. 4947, the Cahaba National Wildlife Refuge Expansion Act - Authorizes expansion of the Cahaba River NWR to include additional lands and waters in Bibb County, Alabama.
- H.R. 5094, the Lake Mattamuskeet Lodge Preservation Act - Transfers Mattamuskeet Lodge and surrounding property, including the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, to the State of North Carolina for use as a public facility dedicated to the conservation of the natural and cultural resources of North Carolina.
- H.R. 138, the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System Act - Revises the boundaries of John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System Jekyll Island Unit GA-06P in Glynn County, Georgia. GA-06P includes Jekyll Island and marshland to the west of the island.
- H.R. 479, the Florida Coastal Barrier Resources Act - Replaces a Coastal Barrier Resources System map relating to Coastal Barrier Resources System Grayton Beach Unit FL-95P in Walton County, Florida. Grayton Beach Unit FL-95P includes portions of Grayton Beach State Park and a privately owned inholding known as Old Miller Place.
- H.R. 5160, the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act - Establishes the Long Island Sound Stewardship Initiative, which is intended to support and improve the conservation of living resources and maintain healthy lands and waters upon which they depend.
- H.R. 2720, the Salt Cedar and Russian Olive Control Demonstration Act - Directs the Secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, and Defense to establish a federal program aimed at finding and implementing the best means of controlling and eradicating salt cedar and Russian olive vegetation - both nonnative plants that have overrun numerous areas of vital riparian habitat associated with rivers in the West.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our homepage at http://www.fws.gov