On December 21, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate passed omnibus spending bill H.R.133; year-end legislation to fund the government for the next fiscal year.
Significant funding for several critical “restoration economy” programs was included in the legislation, including several funding increases.
Community revitalization-related examples include:
- $91 million towards brownfields cleanups, a $2 million increase from FY20 enacted level;
- $1 billion towards transportation infrastructure improvement projects through TIGER/BUILD, plus $14 billion in Transit Infrastructure Grants under the COVID relief provisions; and
- $9 billion towards an Emergency Capital Investment Program to support redevelopment and revitalization investment activities in low-moderate income and minority communities.
Important ecological restoration programs were also funded:
- Chesapeake Bay Program – $87.5 million in appropriated funding;
- Delaware River Basin Restoration Program – $10 million in appropriated funding;
- North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) – $46.5 million in appropriated funding;
- Soil Health and Income Protection Pilot Program (SHIPP) – Extends SHIPP sign-up until September 30, 2021;
- Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) – $330 million in appropriated funding;
- Migratory Bird Management – $15.1 million allocated for North American Waterfowl Management Plan/Joint Venture Programs
- Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation – $4.9 million in appropriated funding; and
- WaterSMART Extension and Expansion – Increases authorization of WaterSMART program from $530 million to $700 million (expands applicant eligibility for WaterSMART program to nonprofit conservation organization).
Non-profit organizations—such as Ducks Unlimited—that do a lot of environmental restoration work celebrated the news.
“Ducks Unlimited volunteers, partners and staff work tirelessly throughout the year to share the importance of conservation funding,” said DU Chief Policy Officer Zach Hartman.
“It is fitting that the 116th Congress, which has made conservation a bipartisan priority, continues to ensure adequate funding for critical programs that conserve wetlands and other habitat. We appreciate the hard work of Democratic and Republican Appropriations leaders to prioritize the most critical conservation programs such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. These investments will benefit not only wildlife, but communities as well,” he concluded.
In particular, the Members serving on the Appropriations committees in both the House and Senate deserve recognition for including this important environmental restoration funding, most notably the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Subcommittee on Interior and Environment: Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Tom Udall, Representative Betty McCollum and Representative David Joyce.