On the 30th anniversary of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Jan. 30, Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware; Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico; John Kennedy, R-Louisiana; Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana; and colleagues introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize NAWCA through 2024.

The legislation would also increase authorized annual funding for the program to $60 million. NAWCA was originally enacted in 1989 to provide federal cost-share funding — in partnership with funding from state and local governments, private industry and nonprofit organizations like Ducks Unlimited — to projects that conserve North America’s waterfowl, fish and wildlife resources.

“Active stewardship of wetlands encourages tourism, strengthens flood protection and supports wildlife,” said Carper. “For 30 years, NAWCA has been responsible for countless initiatives and partnerships that breathe new life into ecosystems throughout the country. Its long list of successes include projects in Delaware, where bird migrations through our coastal wetlands draw legions of tourists year after year. All in all, NAWCA-funded partnerships in the First State have helped restore almost 11,000 acres of important habitat. I’m encouraged by the broad, bipartisan support of this law, and this reauthorization bill will strengthen conservation efforts and ensure NAWCA’s continued success for years to come.”

Wetlands secure freshwater supplies, recharge aquifers and mitigate soil erosion and flooding disasters. In addition, waterfowl, migratory birds, fish and mammals that depend on wetlands support multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation activities such as hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and photography. NAWCA funding has been critical to acquiring, restoring and enhancing this habitat in all 50 states, Canada and Mexico. In total, nearly 3,000 NAWCA projects have contributed to the conservation and restoration of nearly 30 million acres of habitat all across North America.

NAWCA has provided a great return on investment, generating, on average, three additional dollars for every federal dollar. Federal grants totaling more than $1.6 billion have spurred $4.68 billion for NAWCA projects through matching and nonmatching funds. NAWCA funds have also supported an average of 7,500 jobs each year and more than $5 billion in annual economic activity.

A copy of the bill is available at bit.ly/2Ut9bJT.