Conservation Enhancement Act Set to Be Signed Into Law

October 5, 2020 by Sean Trambley
The forest canopy in Huntley Meadows Park, Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – This week, the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act achieved final passage in the U.S. House of Representatives with support from a wide swath of bipartisan lawmakers. 

The ACE Act helps conserve wildlife and wildlife habitat, including by reauthorizing the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Establishment Act. It also addresses the threats of emerging wildlife diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease, protects livestock from predators, and combats invasive species. The legislation has received support from a broad group of stakeholders.

“Congress has passed the most significant wildlife conservation and sportsmen’s legislation in decades,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “For us in Wyoming, it will protect critical habitat, fight chronic wasting disease, conserve species, and compensate ranchers for predator attacks. The ACE Act will help states and tribes manage species better. These measures will help preserve America’s incredible wildlife for hikers, landowners, farmers, hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts. The legislation has the support of conservationists, sportsmen, and farmers alike. It’s a great example of working across party lines to get something done. I am thankful to Ranking Member Carper for his partnership and I look forward to President Trump signing the ACE Act into law.”

“America’s Conservation Enhancement Act builds on state and stakeholder commitments to restore wetlands and improve water quality by reauthorizing effective programs like the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund and the Chesapeake Bay Program,” said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “While helping to protect and restore important habitats, the conservation efforts supported by the ACE Act also help to fuel multibillion-dollar fishing and ecotourism industries. The ACE Act will also help to drive the development of new and innovative solutions for growing threats like invasive species and wildlife disease – threats we know will only become more challenging with our changing climate. This legislation is a bipartisan win for conservation and outdoor recreation, and I thank our colleagues in the House for their support.”

Among its provisions, the ACE Act will:

  • Reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act until 2025;
  • Reauthorize the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Act until 2025;
  • Reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Program until 2025;
  • Reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails network and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Grants Assistance Program until 2025;
  • Authorize the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense Program until 2025;
  • Commission a study by the National Academy of Sciences regarding the pathways and mechanisms of the transmission of chronic wasting disease in the United States;
  • Establish a CWD task force to develop an interstate action plan for state and federal cooperation relating to the disease;
  • Authorize funds to combat the threat of invasive species; and 
  • Encourage partnerships among public agencies and other interested parties for promoting fish conservation.

“Passage of the ACE Act will not only benefit deer, ducks, fish, and our water quality, but it will also create jobs in conservation and help to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities for millions of Americans just when we need it most,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Sportsmen and women are grateful to Senator Heinrich for his leadership and commitment to passing this critical conservation bill.”

“The passage of the ACE Act today is fantastic news for the conservation community,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam. “In a package filled with several vitally important conservation provisions, perhaps none are more crucial to waterfowl habitat than the reauthorization of NAWCA.”

On December 13, 2019, Sens. Carper and Barrasso introduced the ACE Act (S. 3051) along with Sens. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., John Boozman, R-Ark., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. Later that month, the EPW Committee unanimously approved the ACE Act.

On September 17, 2020, the ACE Act passed the Senate in the form of a substitute amendment to S. 3051 that was negotiated with the House of Representatives. 

Now, with House passage of the legislation, it is set to be signed into law.

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