Congressional budget bill increases funding for public land management and addresses threat of chronic debilitating disease

The $1.7 trillion blanket bill would fund the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2023

WASHINGTON – Earlier this morning, congressional leaders released a $1.7 trillion bipartisan spending omnibus bill for fiscal year 2023 that includes some increases for public land management agencies as well as funding for Department of the Interior programs. that conserve habitat for fish and wildlife. The bill also authorizes funding to address the threat of chronic debilitating disease.

Included in the funding for the Department of the Interior is a 7.5% increase for the US Fish and Wildlife Service Administration. The North American Wetlands Conservation Act would receive $50 million and $81 million is allocated for grouse habitat conservation. An additional provision would close loopholes for conservation easement tax incentives, protecting the integrity of easements that help consolidate possessions and take advantage of Land and Water Conservation Fund projects, ensuring public access to public lands without exit to the sea

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is encouraged by the bill’s release and praised the decision makers in Congress for their commitment to include strong conservation measures and address priority issues for hunters and anglers.

“The holiday season just got a whole lot brighter,” said Land Tawney, BHA President and CEO. “We are excited that our congressional champions have found a way to include provisions important to our community and get them to the finish line. Your recognition of the vital roles that public lands, water, and wildlife play in our daily lives is greatly appreciated. Their investment in science and general management is applauded.”

The Chronic Debilitating Diseases Research and Management Act (HR 5608) is a notable addition to the expanding legislation. BHA and its partner organizations have consistently advocated for the bill, which would coordinate efforts between the Department of Agriculture and state and tribal wildlife agencies and departments of agriculture, authorizing $70 million in annual funding through fiscal year 2028. Approved by the Chamber on December 20. As of January 8, 2021, the CWD bill had recently received approval from all members of the Senate except Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).

“We are pleased to be able to work with our partners in the hunting community and with the congressional champions to secure this victory before the end of the 117th Congress,” said Tawney. “We thank Representatives Ron Kind and Glenn “GT” Thompson and Senators John Hoeven and Martin Heinrich for their leadership on this important legislation. And we thank the hunters in Kentucky and across the country who spoke in support of the bill, and together they were able to turn the tide and move across the bus. This is a victory for sportsmen, for scientific wildlife management, and for public lands and waters.”

Yet despite overwhelming support from hunting and angling interests, the bipartisan American Wildlife Recovery Act, or RAWA, was not included on the omnibus, even after it was passed by the Camera earlier this year. A broad coalition has worked tirelessly to advance the conservation finance bill, with more than 15,000 BHA members and supporters raising their voices in support.

“The impacts of the US Wildlife Recovery Act on wildlife conservation and management would be, in a word, unprecedented,” Tawney said. “RAWA is the product of decades of hard work and dedicated collaboration by countless and diverse stakeholders, including athletes, conservationists, and business leaders. We are disappointed to lose this opportunity to advance Bill 117 in Congress. However, we also thank our champions, Senators Martin Heinrich and Roy Blunt, and Representative Debbie Dingell, for their tireless efforts to the last minute in trying to ensure the inclusion of RAWA. We are already looking forward to the 118th Congress and tackling the work needed to get RAWA into law.”

The Senate and House are expected to vote on the legislation as soon as today, with final approval anticipated before the end of the week. The current continuing resolution, which has funded the government during the interim, will expire on Friday.

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