The American Bird Conservancy reports that migratory birds and other wildlife are benefitting from new funding increases proposed in the House Interior Appropriations bill in a move that 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,” says Jennifer Cipolletti, Director of Conservation Advocacy for American Bird Conservancy.
Increased Funding for Neotropical Migratory Birds
The bill increases 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 birds 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.
Priority species include Bicknell’s Thrush, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Cerulean Warbler, Golden-cheeked Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Hudsonian Godwit, Kirtland’s Warbler, Long-billed Curlew, Mountain Plover, Painted Bunting, Reddish Egret, Red Knot, and Sprague’s Pipit.
Funding for Two Key Wildlife Programs
The bill proposes substantial increases for two critical wildlife conservation programs: The North American Wetlands Conservation Act, or NAWCA ($50 million), and State and Tribal Wildlife Grants ($70 million).
State and Tribal Wildlife Grants are the nation’s core program for preventing wildlife from becoming endangered.
The grants support 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 wetlands-associated migratory birds in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Greater Sage-Grouse Protection
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,” says Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy for American Bird Conservancy.
Getting the Lead Out
“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, 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.
Migratory Bird Joint Ventures
Migratory Bird Joint Ventures are regional partnerships managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that identify conservation priorities and carry out projects to reverse population declines of at-risk bird species.
Migratory Joint Ventures
The Joint Ventures (JVs) are essential to addressing the conservation needs of migratory birds. Since the program’s inception in 1986, Joint Ventures have conserved more than 22 million acres of critical habitat for wildlife.
State of the Birds Activities for Hawaiian Birds
State of the Birds activities for Hawaiian birds are arresting the bird extinction crisis in Hawaii, where more than 90 bird species have gone extinct, and nine listed species are currently in decline.
Invasive Species Early Detection
Invasive Species Early Detection activities survey, report, and verify the presence of non-native species before founding populations become established or spread so widely that eradication is no longer feasible.
Rapid Response Efforts
Rapid Response efforts are then employed to eradicate non-native species.
“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,” says Holmer.
Citizens can help by writing their Representatives and Senators via ABC’s action alert system.