New anti-inflation bill includes money for deer and duck habitat


Hunters and anglers are not the focus of the Cut Inflation Act, which passed the US Senate by a 51-50 vote with Vice President Kamala Harris voting on Sunday, but the bill will have a major impact on wildlife habitat. on public and private land.

The Inflation Reduction Act is the culmination of a year-long effort, which originally included several other initiatives included in what was known as the Build Back Better program. This bill failed to pass through Congress. Several items have been modified and removed from this agenda to get this new bill passed. The Inflation Reduction Act currently includes:

  • $20 billion for USDA conservation programs over the next four years
  • $2.6 billion to support coastal resilience projects
  • Nearly $5 billion for forest management on public and private lands
  • $500 million for a habitat conservation and ecosystem restoration project on BLM and National Park Service lands
  • $100 million to rebuild and restore the National Wildlife Refuge System
  • $1 billion for technical conservation assistance nationwide

“This bill, which is much broader than the sporting community, still includes significant levels of funding that will benefit conservation,” said Backcountry Hunters and Angler government relations coordinator Kaden McArthur. “There are a lot of good bits that have come together.”

The Cut Inflation Act of 2022 is being positioned by its proponents as a way to tackle rising inflation, but it is a far-reaching bill. Basically, this law spends money on national issues like health care, drug prices, tax reform, energy security and the environment.

“The Inflation Reduction Act, while broad, contains important agriculture and conservation provisions that positively impact wildlife habitat,” says Torin Miller, National Deer policy director. Association. “In fact, it is the biggest investment in Farm Bill conservation programs in decades, streamlines processes for initiating and completing conservation projects nationwide and contains provisions to strengthen wildlife habitat and conservation on agricultural lands, forests and coasts. For deer hunters, that means improved habitat for deer production and better, new places to hunt America’s most iconic game.

McArthur pointed to the $5 billion in forest management as a major boon for hunters, noting the national backlog in forest management. This funding would help reduce wildfires, which is extremely important as many areas are at high risk for extreme fires.

“There are guys who are going to put a tag on for 15 years and then the unit they want to hunt is going to ignite,” says McArthur. “So that habitat is degraded in the long term.”

In addition, the bill includes energy leasing reforms and increases minimum bids and rental rates for oil and gas leases. These changes are designed to give taxpayers a fair return on the use of public lands.

All of this funding and the changes highlighted will provide more quality habitat for wildlife as well as huntable areas and cleaner, workable waterways. While the impact will be felt nationwide, specific parts of the bill will be more noticeable in different parts of the country.

Patrick Donovan, policy director for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, says the bill has investment elements that will likely bring more benefits to places like the Midwest, while energy leasing reforms may have more impact. impact in Western states.

“Some of these energy leasing reforms have been talked about, discussed and debated for decades,” Donovan says.

After passing the Senate, the bill moves to the House, where it is expected to pass. Then it will go to President Biden, who has already endorsed it. The TRCP has followed discussions on budget reconciliation over the past year. In a blog post written by Donovan, the TRCP said it made recommendations to lawmakers on what would benefit hunters, anglers and wildlife. Donovan says the bill is significant in terms of the size of the investment.

“We’ve never seen, for example, a near doubling of conservation funding for USDA programs in the next four years, and that’s historic in itself,” Donovan says. “There is going to be a lot of work to do on the implementation.”

While the Cut Inflation Act would provide significant funding for important conservation initiatives, it does not provide detailed guidance on how those funds should be spent. This means that federal agencies have a great deal of latitude in determining how this funding is distributed. This is where Donovan says much of the work of the TRCP and other organizations will be focused on the future.

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“The problem with the reconciliation process itself is that sometimes the reach of politics can be quite limited,” says Donovan. “So there will be a lot of work to do to make sure the funds are going to the right place.”

Donovan said that means focusing on things like headwater restoration projects, coastal wetland restoration projects and forest maintenance programs. Still, there are some things on the table that members of the sports community would have liked to see.

“We were hopeful for the version of this that looked set to come back in December,” says McArthur. “There were a few things BHA would have liked to see here, but they didn’t do the final cut.”

McArthur pointed to a provision that would have repealed the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil and gas rental program and modernized hard rock mining laws, which haven’t changed much in more than 150 years. .

“This bill has a lot of successes and a lot of good programs, but it’s a watered down version of what was proposed. This bill in December had no way to pass, so we are very happy that they came together to compromise on something that could get 50 votes.


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