Over $2 billion worth of environmental restoration funding was included in the bipartisan infrastructure agreement passed by the U.S. Senate on August 10, 2021. Granted, that’s not much compared to the vast extent of the restoration needed, but—like they say about 300 corporate lawyers at the bottom of the sea—it’s a good start.
The agreement includes funding for several critical conservation programs aimed at protecting and restoring waterfowl habitat in some of DU’s highest priority areas, including in the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay, the Pacific Northwest and more.
“Bipartisan agreements often yield the most impactful results,” said Ducks Unlimited (DU) CEO Adam Putnam.
“That’s certainly the case in this instance, as programs in many of our highest priority habitat areas are set to receive funding, helping to strengthen fragile, yet important, ecosystems and make drought-stricken communities more resilient. DU supports this legislation and we appreciate the Senate’s attention to programs that support natural infrastructure and are incredibly valuable to both wildlife and people,” he added.
Here’s a breakdown of restorative programs included in the bill:
- The Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program would receive $400 million, with $100 million of the funds going toward improving existing nature-based projects. WaterSMART projects help increase water supply by modernizing and restoring existing infrastructure;
- Several Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies’ geographic programs receive funding for five years. These programs implement projects to combat invasive species, improve water quality and restore wildlife habitat:
- Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) at $1 billion
- Chesapeake Bay Program at $238 million
- Puget Sound program at $89 million
- USFWS Delaware River Basin Restoration Program at $26 million
- USFWS Klamath Basin restoration activities at $162 million
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund helps restore the Pacific Coast and its ecosystem, including important habitat for waterfowl. This program would receive $172 million over five years; and
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Emergency Watershed Protection Program would receive $300 million to help private landowners repair property in watersheds damaged by natural disasters.
The Senate’s bill must now be agreed to by the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law.