The Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Prevention (HELP) for Wildlife Act has cleared the first hurdle in the U.S. Senate. If passed, this bill will increase protection for wildlife and outdoor traditions.
The bill extends funding for several acts and programs until 2023 such as the North America Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Act. It also solidifies promotion of several conservation and outdoor initiatives.
Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced the bill to the Senate on June 30 with co-sponsors Sens. John Boozman (R-AR), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The bipartisan legislation has now been sent to the Committee on Environment and Public Works, which will hold a full committee hearing on July 19.
“The HELP Wildlife Act promotes conservation based on sound science and provides needed protections for America’s sportsmen,” as described by Sen. Barrasso.
On her webpage, Sen. Tammy Baldwin provides specifics of the bill:
- Reauthorize and fund the North American Wetlands Conservation Act until 2023;
- Reauthorize and fund the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Act until 2023;
- Reauthorize and fund the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act until 2023;
- Finalize partnerships among public agencies and other interested parties for promoting fish conservation;
- Promote the building and expansion of public target ranges.
- Mandate the reissuance of final rules de-listing the gray wolf in both Wyoming and the western Great Lakes and prohibits judicial review;
- Reauthorize and fund the Chesapeake Bay Program until 2023;
- Reauthorize and fund the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails network and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Grants Assistance Program until 2023; and
- Prevent farmers from being held liable for bird baiting for hunting purposes if they adhere to USDA and state agricultural best practices following crop loss from flooding.
Opponents of the bill see the conservation funding as a veiled attempt to end the Endangered Species Act’s protections for wolves in the Great Lakes region and to prohibit action on lead in fishing materials.
Sources: U.S. Senate, Congress