LAND, WATER, AND WILDLIFE RESTORATION

Land, water, and wildlife restoration will improve biodiversity, enhance ecosystem health and support natural systems, and ease the pollution burden on communities.  On-the-ground restoration activity through these and similar programs can create sustainable economic opportunity and get people back to work.

 

Specific Policy Proposals:
  • Working Lands Conservation Programs (EQIP, RCPP, CSP): Congress should protect 100 million additional acres with conservation practices and easements and protected farmlands, grasslands, wetlands and forests.  In the West, funding for these programs supports drought resilience by funding projects such as water delivery and irrigation infrastructure, restoration activities, and incentive payments for voluntary agricultural water use reductions and conservation activities. An investment of $4 billion in EQIP, $1 billion in RCPP and $1.5 billion in CSP is needed.

  • Large Scale Watershed Restoration: Iconic waterways like the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Mississippi River and Delta are nationally-significant hubs of tourism, and many support and protect other critical industries including fisheries, shipping, and energy production. Restoration implementation supports a $25 billion "restoration economy" that directly employs 126,000 people and supports 95,000 other jobs, mostly in small businesses, as well as the nation’s $887 billion outdoor economy. Restoration of these systems also improves their resilience in the face of climate change, helping to protect adjacent communities. A total of $10.5 billion across watersheds is needed.

  • NOAA Resiliency, Habitat Grant Program, and the National Coastal Resiliency Fund: These programs create jobs restoring coastal and bluewater habitats, restoration of fisheries, and help struggling communities restart tourism. It will also increase water quality and improve access to the outdoors. Previous investments have resulted in the restoration of over a quarter of a million acres of habitat, 677 miles of stream, and the removal of over 400,000 tons of debris from our coasts. A $4 billion investment can increase these successful outcomes. 

  • LWCF + Maintenance Backlog (GAOA): Now that the Senate has passed the Great American Outdoors Act by a vote of 73-25, the House should act quickly to move the bill to the President’s desk. This bill, which would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the deferred maintenance backlog of our National Parks and other federal lands, will put people to work on thousands of projects annually and support local economies across the country. Building on LWCF’s investments in urban parks, Congress should also invest additional funding to substantially jump start projects – through programs like Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership and Urban Park and Recreation Recovery – that fund local parks in communities with the greatest need. 

  • Orphan Well Clean-Up: Congress should invest $4 billion in cleaning up orphaned oil and gas wells, which could employ former oil and gas workers and would reduce pollutants entering waterways and methane leaks. To further prevent taxpayers from being left on the hook for future cleanup, Congress must simultaneously modernize bonding policies to ensure wells do not become orphaned in the future. 

  • Conservation Service Corps: Congress should invest $15 billion over 5 years in this service program, which allows land management agencies to engage in public-private partnerships with nonprofit organizations across the country. Substantially scaling up these corps has the potential to employ up to 100,000 young people and recent veterans in conservation resource management, and sustainable infrastructure projects.

  • Legacy Roads & Trails: The Legacy Roads and Trails program provides funding for urgent maintenance and decommissioning projects in places where deteriorating roads are impacting stream water quality, creating barriers to fish passage, or creating public access and safety problems. In ten years, this program saw over 18,000 miles of road maintained and/or storm-proofed; 1,030 culverts replaced to open up fish habitat; 1,671 miles of stream habitat restored; 5,020 miles of trails repaired, 137 bridges constructed or reconstructed; 7,053 miles of excess roads retired. Funding at $100 million is needed.

  • Watershed Restoration Action Plan Implementation: WRAPs detail the restoration activities needed to improve watershed health and drinking water quality. $300 million in funding is needed to implement "essential projects" identified in the WRAPs to improve priority watersheds that are currently in a degraded or at-risk condition to a properly functioning condition. Over a three-year period, we anticipate that 90-150 watersheds would be improved to a properly functioning condition, improving the resilience of these ecosystems and the communities that surround them.

 

  • Wildlife and Fisheries Habitat Management Program: This program maintains and restores habitat for robust wildlife and fish populations and creates conditions for clean, abundant water. By investing $35 million through this program, we can improve and restore endangered species habitat;increase fishing opportunities and access; and restore wetlands, meadows, springs, streams and other water sources.

  • National Seed Strategy: Congress should invest $146 million in energy-efficient, high-tech native seed storage facilities and associated infrastructure in several regions across the United States to ensure that native seeds are available for restoration projects after wildfires, hurricanes, and floods to build resiliency into ecosystems and support native species.

  • Urban & Community Forestry Program: This program creates jobs through the establishment, maintenance, and restoration of community forests. UCF projects can increase urban tree cover, thereby helping reduce heat in cities and contributing to cleaner air, protect municipal water supplies, and create or maintain trails for recreational use. An investment of $100 million is needed.

LINKS TO RESOURCES

Link to Restoration and Resilience Dear Colleague

https://debbiedingell.house.gov/uploadedfiles/200520_restoration_and_resilience_jobs.pdf

 

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/reports/2020/06/23/486653/powering-americas-economic-recovery-protecting-restoring-nature/

Congress can create millions of jobs and fight climate change by working to conserve at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and ocean by 2030. With $39 billion of investments, the United States has the ability to create between 446,900 and 717,000 jobs.6 These investments would help small towns and cities across the country build their economies back to be stronger and healthier. Importantly, however, this type of visionary action to protect and restore America’s outdoors would also give families and children of all races, cultures, and backgrounds a chance to enjoy and share the benefits and bounties of nature—now and forever.

https://www.nwf.org/-/media/Documents/PDFs/Environmental-Threats/Natural-Climate-Solutions-Policy-Platform

Natural climate solutions are strategies that harness the ability of natural systems, like wetlands and prairies, to capture and store carbon dioxide in soil and vegetation, and to increase the resilience of communities to increasingly severe and frequent natural hazards and other climate impacts. Often, natural climate solutions have “co-benefits” as well, such as restoring or improving wildlife habitat and enhancing water or air quality. Plus, they often involve hands-on restoration and management of natural resources, thereby creating sustainable employment and economic opportunity for communities across the country.

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