Bipartisan ACE Act Passed By House To Enhance Outdoor Recreation

Here’s some reaction to the news, first from Ducks Unlimited:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oct. 1, 2020 – The United States House of Representatives unanimously passed the bipartisan America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act today, which affects many important wetland habitat and wildlife conservation programs. The legislation, previously passed by the Senate, will now be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

The package includes several important conservation measures including reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD) Act, reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Program and reauthorization of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, among other provisions.

“The passage of the ACE Act today is fantastic news for the conservation community,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “In a package filled with vitally important conservation provisions, perhaps none are more crucial to waterfowl habitat than the reauthorization of NAWCA. Thank you to all the members of Congress who have identified the importance of conservation and worked with DU and others to achieve one of our highest legislative priorities. We’re elated to see such game-changing legislation pass both chambers of Congress, and we stand ready to help implement this important piece of America’s conservation legacy once the President signs it into law.”

NAWCA is a voluntary matching grant program that leverages non-federal and federal funds for wetland restoration. Since enactment in 1989, NAWCA has conserved more than 30 million acres and created an average of 7,500 new jobs annually. Every dollar spent by the federal government, on average, receives a $3 match from program partners like Ducks Unlimited. NAWCA is the nation’s most successful wetlands conservation program. The ACE Act reauthorizes NAWCA at $60 million a year until 2025.

The ACE Act could not have been passed by both chambers of Congress without steadfast support from members of the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle. DU owes a special thanks to members of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission for their year-round commitment to supporting policy priorities that conserve waterfowl habitat. Those members include Sen. Martin Heinrich (NM), Sen. John Boozman (AR), Rep. Mike Thompson (CA), and Rep. Rob Wittman (VA).

DU also thanks Rep. Joe Cunningham (SC) as well as Sen. John Barrasso (WY), Sen. Tom Carper (DE), Rep. Rob Bishop (UT) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ) for their work to guide this important conservation legislation through the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the House Natural Resources Committee. 

In addition to NAWCA reauthorization, the ACE Act also creates or reauthorizes other conservation programs that support waterfowl habitat in important wildlife ecosystems across the country.

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and, historically, one of the most productive bodies of water in the world. The Chesapeake Bay Program is a unique regional partnership, managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whose mission is to reverse the degradation of the bay and restore its watershed and wildlife. The ACE Act reauthorizes appropriations for the Chesapeake Bay Program at $90 million through 2025.

The Chesapeake WILD Act will create a grant program within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support habitat restoration in the Chesapeake Bay region. In addition, the Secretary of Interior must work with federal, state and local agencies and organizations to identify, prioritize and implement restoration activities within the watershed.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is also reauthorized under the ACE Act. NFWF leverages public funds to raise private dollars that help sustain and restore important wildlife habitat across the nation, including more than 18,600 projects since its creation in 1984.

For more information, visit, and be sure to Follow DU’s Twitter feed – @DUNews1937 – to get the most up-to-date news from Ducks Unlimited.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the worlds largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved nearly 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit

And the National Wildlife Federation:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 1, 2020) — The National Wildlife Federation applauded the extraordinary bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives for America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act. Championed by Representatives Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.), the bill, which passed on a voice vote today, is an important step forward for America’s wildlife and sporting traditions. 

“Right now, when Washington is divided on so many issues, we are grateful that the U.S. House of Representatives rallied together across party lines to enact bipartisan investments to restore wildlife populations and conserve our outdoor heritage,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “At a time when one-third of wildlife face heightened risk of extinction, the ACE Act restores essential fish and wildlife habitat like wetlands and the Chesapeake Bay, eradicates wildlife disease — especially chronic wasting disease — addresses invasive species, and engages the next generation of sportswomen and sportsmen. We urge President Trump to swiftly sign this common-sense conservation measure into law.” 

Key provisions of the ACE Act include:

  • Establishing a chronic wasting disease task force to develop an interstate action plan for state and federal cooperation relating to the disease
  • Commissioning a study by the National Academy of Sciences regarding the pathways and mechanisms of the transmission of chronic wasting disease 
  • Reauthorizing the North American Wetlands Conservation Act until 2025
  • Encouraging partnerships among public agencies and other interested parties for promoting fish conservation
  • Reauthorizing the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Program until 2025;
  • Reauthorizing the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Grants Assistance Program until 2025
  • Reauthorizing the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Act until 2025
  • Establishing a program to provide grants to states and Indian tribes to compensate livestock producers for losses due to predation by federally protected species such as wolves or grizzly bears 
  • Establishing a Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prize for technological innovation to reduce human-predator conflict using non-lethal means

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