On October 30, 2020, President Trump signed S. 3051, The America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (ACE Act) into law at the White House. The ACE Act passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support and unanimous consent. Now enacted into law, this bill reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and codifies the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP), two of the most successful voluntary conservation efforts in the nation. The law also reauthorizes the Chesapeake Bay Program and creates funding authorizations for other crucial conservation programs. The National Fish Habitat Partnership will be authorized from FY21- FY25 at $7.2 million annually. The National Fish Habitat Board will report to Congress, particularly the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate, and the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives.
The law expands the National Fish Habitat Board to 26 members, broadening the membership to include representation from the following groups: a national private landowner organization, an agricultural production organization, local government involved in fish habitat restoration, corporate industries, and a private sector or landowner representative of an active Fish Habitat Partnership. On an annual basis, the Board will submit a priority list of projects for funding consideration to the Secretary of the Interior. Technical and Scientific Assistance funds are authorized to be appropriated for FY21 – FY25 up to $400,000 annually to each of the following agencies: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Geological Survey in support of the National Fish Habitat Partnership. Within one year of enactment, the agencies receiving Technical and Scientific Assistance funds, led by the Department of the Interior, will develop an interagency operational plan outlining the implementation needs and interagency agreements.
“Today, with President Trump’s signing of the ACE Act, we celebrate the culmination of over a decade of effort to codify the National Fish Habitat Partnership with organic legislation. The Partnership, and the thousands of people involved in local, grassroots projects, have done remarkable work protecting, enhancing, and restoring fish habitat across the country,” said Ed Schriever, Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. “This Congressional recognition of the program marks the beginning of an exciting chapter for the Partnership and the American people whose pleasure, passion and livelihoods are derived from healthy habitat and vibrant fishery resources.”