(Washington, D.C., May 15, 2019) Migratory birds and other wildlife will benefit from new funding increases proposed in the House Interior Appropriations bill released yesterday, in a move that clearly demonstrates the new U.S. House of Representatives' support of environmental issues.
“We thank Chairwoman Betty McCollum and the House Interior Subcommittee for producing such a strong environmental bill. This legislation makes overdue funding and policy adjustments that stand to benefit birds and other wildlife,” said Jennifer Cipolletti, Director of Conservation Advocacy for American Bird Conservancy.
The bill will increase funding for the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA) to $4.9 million, a million-dollar increase. Since 2002, the NMBCA has functioned as a matching grant program to fund projects that conserve Neotropical migratory birds – those that breed in or migrate through the United States and Canada and spend the nonbreeding season in Latin America and the Caribbean. NMBCA has helped conserve 400 species, including some of the most endangered birds in North America.
The bill proposes a $14 million increase for two key wildlife conservation programs: the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, or NAWCA ($50 million), and State and Tribal Wildlife Grants ($70 million). The latter is the nation's core program for preventing wildlife from becoming endangered; it supports a wide variety of wildlife-related projects by state fish and wildlife agencies throughout the United States. NAWCA provides funding for conservation projects for the benefit of wetland-associated migratory birds in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
The Greater Sage-Grouse is another beneficiary of the legislation. “We're heartened to see that a rider was dropped that would have prevented Endangered Species Act protection of the grouse regardless of how low the species' numbers plummet,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy for American Bird Conservancy. “Another harmful provision removed would have prohibited the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating ammunition and fishing sinkers made with lead, a dangerous toxin that causes the needless poisoning of an estimated 16 million birds each year.”
A large coalition of more than 150 conservation groups, including American Bird Conservancy, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Defenders of Wildlife, and National Audubon Society, also asked for increases to Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, State of the Birds activities for Hawaiian birds, and Invasive Species Early Detection and Rapid Response efforts. Funding amounts for these programs will be included in the Committee Report to be released next week.
“We appreciate the Committee's leadership to help birds, and urge the full House of Representatives to vote in support of this good Interior Appropriations bill,” said Holmer.
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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).
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