Congress passes two conservation bills this year

One thing both Republicans and Democrats can agree on is preserving the great outdoors to pass on to the next generation.

Congress has passed two separate conservation bills in 2020. Both were passed on a bipartisan basis and will continue the efforts to protect nature in the United States.

The first bill, titled the Great American Outdoors Act, was passed in August. According to the official website for Congress, the bill establishes a restoration fund to support deferred maintenance projects on federal land. Deferred maintenance is repairs to infrastructure and assets that get delayed or backlogged because of budget limitations and/or lack of funding.

Starting in 2021, the bill mandates funds equal to 50 percent of all federal revenues from the development of oil, gas, coal, or renewable energy be deposited into a fund for deferred maintenance. The fund can only be used on projects within the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education.

The second act, passed by Congress in early October, is called the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act. This bill was presented to the President to be signed into law last week.

The bill will help secure future funding for the National Fish Habitat Partnership. NFHP is a science-based, state-led initiative to protect, restore, and maintain America’s aquatic ecosystems, according to their website. The organization has four main goals including protecting and maintaining intact and healthy aquatic systems, preventing further degradation of fish habitats, reversing declines in the quality and quantity of aquatic habitats, and increase the quality and quantity of fish habitats to support a broad natural diversity of fish and other aquatic species.

Another piece of the legislation will support fishing opportunities in the Great Lakes. This is done by authorizing and providing $15 million in annual funding for coordinated research and monitoring of binational fisheries within the Great Lake Basin, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

ACE does a number of things including:

-          Establish a task force to look at the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in deer and elk and work with states to develop a plan for research and testing, along with responding to the disease;

-          Reauthorizes funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act at $60 million annually for five years;

-          Reauthorizes the Chesapeake Bay Program at $90 million through fiscal year 2025. There will also be an investment in clean water efforts recommended by the six Bay states and the District of Columbia;

-          Establishes a program providing funds to states and Indian tribes providing compensation for loss of livestock due to federally protected species like wolves or grizzly bears; and

-          Establishes a Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prize for technological innovation to reduce human-predator conflict using non-lethal means. 

Connect Outdoors is a strong supporter of Conservation and Sustainability.  Our Bluetooth Scale and Culling System enables anglers to help reduce fish stress and mortality rates by reducing the number of times an angler needs to handle catches during a traditional tournament.  

The Connect Leaderboard tournament management system allows tournament directors to easily host and run Catch Weigh Release or Catch Photo Release Fishing Tournaments which eliminate the need for keeping catches in a live well and subjecting them to heat and stress.  Catch and Release tournaments add additional benefit by enabling the catch to return to their bed during spawning season.  

The ConnectScale and Connect Leaderboard can enhance data collection efforts by DNR State Wildlife resource agencies by making it easier to collect data and report information that will be used in managing fisheries so that future generations will be able to enjoy them.  

If you or anyone you know would like to learn more about our conservation efforts send an email to