The House of Representatives voted to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), delivering a significant victory to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and the sporting-conservation community. Having passed the Senate on August 10 on a strong bipartisan vote of 69-30, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act awaits to be signed into law by President Biden.
For the last two years, CSF has been championing the sporting-conservation community’s infrastructure priorities through various Congressional policy briefings, numerous community sign-on letters, and direct outreach to members of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC). Most recently, CSF organized a letter that was sent to House Leadership, which was signed by more than 35 of the nation’s leading hunting and fishing organizations in strong support of the historic investments contained in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
As a result of these efforts, this bipartisan bill will help provide over $40 billion in funding to support targeted fish and wildlife habitat conservation projects, enhance public access to our federal public lands, and help spur near-term job creation across the nation by:
- Reauthorizing the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund: This investment will ensure that more than $650 million annually ($743 million last year) is provided to state fish and wildlife agencies for local fish habitat conservation as well as boating and fishing access through excise taxes generated by anglers and boaters.
- Establishing an innovative grant program to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and to enhance habitat connectivity: This provision will authorize $350 million over 5 years to help reduce the estimated one to two million annual wildlife-vehicle collisions. In addition to increasing human safety on the road, this legislation will help restore habitat connectivity for the species most cherished by sportsmen and women.
- Authorizing efforts to restore aquatic organism habitat connectivity: This provision recognizes the importance of improving and restoring aquatic organism passage by modernizing culverts. As such, this bill authorizes $4 billion for a competitive grant program to replace, remove, and repair culverts to restore fish passage.
- Providing increased financial resources to restore our national forests: By including the Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act, H.R. 3684 will help the U.S. Forest Service reduce their 1.3 million acres planting backlog by removing the antiquated cap on the Reforestation Trust Fund.
- Increasing access to federal lands: The Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act authorizes over $2.1 billion over 5 years to improve infrastructure that is owned and maintained by the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
- Restoring Abandoned Mine Lands: This program provides over $11 billion to reclaim mines with the goal of restoring habitat for upland birds, elk, deer, and other important wildlife species.
“The passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the culmination of years of hard work and outreach,” said CSF President and CEO Jeff Crane. “This historic bill would not be possible without the commitment and leadership of members in the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, who recognize the important role our nation’s infrastructure systems play in habitat conservation, hunting and fishing access, and our outdoor recreation economy.”
CSF will work with the Administration to ensure this bill is signed into law by President Biden.