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

Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act

(16 U.S.C. 3951-3956)

Title III of P.L. 101-646 (16 U.S.C. 3951 et seq.; 104 Stat. 4779; enacted November 29, 1990) engages the Fish and Wildlife Service in interagency wetlands restoration and conservation planning in Louisiana. It also expands the administration of Federal grants to acquire, restore, and enhance wetlands of coastal States and the Trust Territories.

Authorizes the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service to participate in the development of a Louisiana coastal wetlands restoration program, participate in the development and oversight of a coastal wetlands conservation program, and lead in the implementation and administration of a National coastal wetlands grant program.

Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Program

Established a Federal Task Force to develop a comprehensive approach to restore and prevent the loss of coastal Louisiana wetlands. Required the Task Force to identify and prepare a list of coastal wetlands projects in Louisiana. The Task Force is also required to determine priority coastal wetland restoration projects which could be completed within a 5-year period and to develop a long-term wetland restoration plan. The Task Force is comprised of the Secretary of the Army, as the Chair; the Administrator of the EPA; the Governor of Louisiana; and the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce. The coastal wetlands list developed by the Task Force is to be updated annually by Task Force members and transmitted to Congress annually by the Corps of Engineers. Within 3 years of completion of the wetland restoration plan, and every 3 years thereafter, the Task Force is required to report to Congress on the scientific effectiveness of the restoration program. The Service, together with EPA and the Corps, is required to report to Congress at specific intervals regarding the status and effectiveness of the plan.

Parallel authority is granted to the Corps of Engineers, EPA, and the Service to work with the State of Louisiana to develop, review, approve and evaluate the State's Coastal Wetlands Conservation Plan. This Plan is to achieve a goal of "no net loss of wetlands" in coastal Louisiana through a combination of regulatory and nonregulatory measures.

The law also requires the Corps of Engineers to allocate funds among Task Force members in accordance with the priorities set forth in the list. Authorizes Federal share of 75 percent of project costs, unless the State has an approved Coastal Wetlands Conservation Plan in which case the amount authorized is 85 percent of project costs.

National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants

The Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service is assigned the lead role in implementing a national 50/50 matching grant program to fund wetland conservation projects in coastal states, except Louisiana. Federal match funds, up to 75 percent of project costs, will be available to States with established trust funds. Specific criteria are included in the Act to prioritize grant awards.

The Director is also required to update and digitize wetlands maps in Texas and to conduct an assessment of wetlands trends in the State.

North American Wetlands Conservation

An allocation of 15 percent of the available appropriations in each fiscal year is to be provided to the Secretary of the Interior for wetlands conservation projects authorized by the North American Wetlands Conservation Act in coastal States.

Distribution of Appropriations

Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (16 U.S.C. 777c), authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to distribute 18 per centum of each annual appropriation made in accordance with that Act for the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act. Authorizes funds for this purpose through fiscal year 1999.

Authorizes the distribution of funds as follows:

Title II of P.L. 102-212, enacted December 11, 1991, contained an amendment to the Act clarifying that dedicated recurring funds from designated sources will qualify a State for Federal matching grants under the same terms as a State trust fund.

Subsection (c) of P.L. 103-375 (Sec. 5, Oct. 19,1994, 108 Stat. 3495), amended the Act to ensure that funds allocated to North American Wetlands Conservation Act are used for "coastal wetlands ecosystems" in the coastal states.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005, P.L. 108-447, amended the Act by striking the funding level limits authorized for the Louisiana wetland projects, the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, and the grants under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Specifically, the language "not to exceed $70 million" for the Louisiana wetland projects was removed. The language "not to exceed $15 million" for the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program and the grants under the National American Wetlands Conservation Act was also striken. The authorization of appropriations was extended to September 30, 2009.

Return to Resource Laws