(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—On June 30, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), joined with Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Boozman (R-AR), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to introduce S. 1514, the Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation (HELP) for Wildlife Act.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker issued this statement in response to the bill:
"Hunting and fishing communities are among the Chesapeake Bay's most dedicated conservationists. This bill will extend programs to help Bay states and local communities meet their goals in the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, from restoring vital habitats for fish and wildlife to supporting local stewardship and public access. CBF applauds the efforts of Senators Cardin and Capito in advancing this important legislation."
The bill will extend programs important to Bay restoration until 2023. Action on the legislation is expected in the next few weeks. Programs that would be extended include:
- The Chesapeake Bay Program, which was created under President Ronald Reagan to support the voluntary Chesapeake Bay Agreement. It is a unique regional partnership that brings together leaders and experts from a vast range of agencies and organizations. Over 60% of funds go to states, primarily through grants programs that leverage private investment for restoration activities in support of the Bay Agreement. Program funds are also used to coordinate the complex science, research, modeling, monitoring, data collection, and other activities essential to collaboration. This bill would reauthorize the program at $90M per year.
- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Act, which supports public and private conservation efforts. For example, the Foundation administers the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, which last year included $12M in grants dedicated to protecting and restoring the Bay.
- The Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails network and Gateways Grants Assistance Program, which connects the public with the Chesapeake Bay through parks, wildlife refuges, museums, and historic communities.
- The North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which provides grants to protect and manage wetland habitats for migratory birds and other wetland wildlife. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and stages or winters millions of waterfowl and other wetland dependent migratory birds every year.
The legislation will also codify the National Fish Habitat Partnership, which will support locally-led fish conservation through the collaboration of public agencies, private citizens, and nonprofit organizations.