Late Friday, November 5, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes $550 billion in infrastructure funding that supports some of ASA’s top legislative priorities that address conservation and sportfishing. These investments will create jobs, conserve the aquatic environment and preserve one of our nation’s most cherished pastimes. After passing the Senate earlier this year, the bill now heads to the desk of President Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.
“After many months of intense negotiations, the sportfishing industry is pleased that Congress has advanced many of our top priorities as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. These investments in fisheries conservation and access reflect the growing recognition among policymakers that outdoor recreation in general, and recreational fishing specifically, is a major economic driver,” said Mike Leonard, the American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) vice president of Government Affairs.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes provisions that directly benefit ASA’s membership including reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. Funded in part by the federal excise tax on fishing equipment, the trust fund is the backbone of state-based aquatic resource conservation, benefitting all U.S. states and territories. Champions of the reauthorization were U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Garret Graves (R-La.).
The bill also authorizes $1 billion for the National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration Program, a landmark program that will address challenges with hundreds of culverts around the country that block upstream migrations of anadromous fish such as salmon, steelhead and sturgeon. Championed by Senators Cantwell and Wicker, this program will substantially invest in culvert restoration and benefit recreational fishing opportunities that are dependent on anadromous fish passage and recovery efforts.
Other ASA-supported provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act include:
- The REPLANT Act which will help the U.S. Forest Service plant 1.2 billion trees on national forest lands and create nearly 49,000 jobs over the next decade;
- $11.3 billion for the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program, which restores mine lands no longer in use that are potential sources of hazardous materials that can leak into lakes, rivers and streams;
- $250 million for the Forest Service’s Legacy Road and Trail program, which funds activities to restore fish passage in streams at road and trail crossings; and
- Funding for numerous ecosystem programs, including:
- $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
- $238 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program
- $16 million for the South Florida Program
- $79 million for the Columbia River Basin Program
- $172 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund