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House Passes ACE Act, Paving Way for Enactment
On October 1, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act (S. 3051) by voice vote under suspension of the rules. The bill, which passed the Senate on September 16, brings together eight bills introduced in either the House or the Senate or both that reauthorize a number of key conservation programs as well as create new authorization for a chronic wasting disease task force and for national fish habitat partnerships. The bill, led by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Ranking Member Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), had strong support across the conservation community and marks one more success for conservation legislation enacted during the 116th Congress.
“Passage of the ACE Act builds upon the already historic accomplishments achieved during the 116th Congress. Collectively, these policies will secure more access to public lands that hunters and anglers use most and benefit our nation’s natural resources for generations to come,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. Other conservation legislation enacted earlier this Congress includes the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act; the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act; the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act; and most recently the historic Great American Outdoors Act.
The ACE Act provides reauthorizations for key existing programs like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act at $60 million per year for five years, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, as well as existing conservation efforts in the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes. The bill also creates a new Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (WILD) program to support multi-agency and private collaboration and to provide grants for the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay watershed at a broad landscape level. In addition, the National Fish Habitat Partnership, which has been in place but not congressionally authorized, finally received full approval and an authorization of $7.2 million annually for five years. The ACE Act also establishes a new chronic wasting disease task force within the U.S. Department of the Interior and authorizes funding for an interstate CWD action plan and cooperative agreements as well as research into CWD transmission.
“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 Senator Carper. “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.”
President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law when it is sent to his office.