WASHINGTON— On the 30th anniversary of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and John Kennedy (R-LA) joined 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NAWCA was originally enacted in 1989 to provide federal cost-share funding—in partnership with funding from state and local governments, private industry, and non-profit organizations like Ducks Unlimited—to projects that conserve North America’s waterfowl, fish, and wildlife resources.
“Wetlands are the heart and soul of Louisiana’s environment. They give recreation, jobs and protection from storms. The North American Wetlands Conservation Act must be renewed. So much in Louisiana and our country depends upon it,” said Dr. Cassidy.
“In less than a century, Louisiana’s lost 1.2 million acres of wetlands,” said Senator Kennedy. “That’s the equivalent of the state of Delaware. I am proud to support the North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act to rescue our wetlands. These habitats aren’t just a part of Louisiana’s landscape. They protect us from storms and bolster our economy. Preserving and restoring them is paramount to the Louisiana families who depend on our seafood and energy industries.”
“For more than 30 years, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act has been a proven, cost-effective program for conserving our nation’s vital wetland and waterfowl habitat,” said President of Ducks Unlimited Rogers Hoyt. “The introduction of this bill is a noteworthy first step to ensure the next generation of Americans, especially waterfowl hunters, have access to the same natural resources we enjoy today. We thank Senators Heinrich, Kennedy, Cassidy, Carper and their colleagues for this strong act of bipartisan support of the NAWCA program and look forward to working with Congress to pass this bill.”
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. Over the program’s history, 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.
Cassidy and Kennedy joined U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and other colleagues in introducing the legislation.