Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced S. 2080, the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (NFHCA), on March 5, 2014. The bipartisan legislation authorizes the National Fish Habitat Action Plan – an unprecedented national partnership effort aimed squarely at protecting, restoring and enhancing the nation’s fish habitats.
Both Senators Cardin and Crapo sit on the Environment and Public Works Committee – Senator Cardin is the Chair of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee. Previous versions of NFHCA have enjoyed broad bipartisan support in Congress, including bipartisan approval by the Environment and Public Works Committee in two different Congresses.
A wide range of sportsmen’s and conservation groups has endorsed this legislation over the years. It is the hope of these groups and others supporting this historic piece of legislation that it be adopted as an amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 1996) – a package of legislation introduced by Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
“The National Fish Habitat Action Plan is already working on the ground to make sport fishing better, from helping farmers manage livestock to protecting brook trout streams in West Virginia, to enhancing growth of native vegetation, improving water quality on Lake Conroe, Texas, to improving stream flows for coho salmon through a partnership with vintners on the Russian River, California” said Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited. “The new bill will ensure that farmers, ranchers and other landowners have a seat at the decision-making table and will ensure the long term sustainability of the program.”
In 2013 alone, National Fish Habitat Partnership projects opened nearly 200 miles of waterways to fish passage. Efforts like this implemented by grassroots-led habitat partnerships are one of only a few ways the National Fish Habitat Partnership is making a difference in conserving fish habitats across the country.
Since 2006, the National Fish Habitat Partnership has been a partner in 417 projects in 46 states benefiting fish habitat. The National Fish Habitat Partnership works to conserve fish habitat nationwide, leveraging federal, state, and private funding sources to achieve the greatest impact on fish populations through priority conservation projects. The national partnership implements the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and supports 18 regional grassroots partner organizations.