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In August 2021, the House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), also known as the “Infrastructure Bill”. While the $1.2 trillion dollar bill is geared toward improving roads, bridges, airports and ports, broadband internet, and water and energy systems across the nation, it also contains around $20 billion aimed at natural resources management, enhancement, education, and protection.
Projects to be funded include but are not limited to wildlife road crossings, reauthorization of the Sportfish Restoration and Boating Trust Funds for fisheries conservation, drought planning in the west, and other water quality improvements.
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Funds earmarked for federal agencies will go toward projects of this nature, and other specific uses and programs identified by agency missions, and the agencies are thinking big. Summarized here are the funding amounts and planned uses for the US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service over the next five years.
US Forest Services
- $10 million – Decommissioning and removal of non-hydropower dams on Forest Service lands
- $80 million – Collaborative aquatic-focused landscape-scale restoration
- $100 million – Invasive species eradication at points of entry to Forest Service lands
- $180 million – Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service
- $250 million – Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program
US Fish and Wildlife Service
- $17 million – Lake Tahoe
- Aquatic invasive species removal
- Invasive species monitoring pre- and post-removal
- Bio-security infrastructure investments
- Develop a Tribal Trust for Lake Tahoe resources
- $26 million – Delaware River
- Fund the Delaware River Basin program, which provides matching grants for habitat conservation in the Delaware River Basin in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
- $50 million – Sage-Steppe
- Build on the current collaborative process with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and other federal, state, and nongovernmental partners
- Defend and grow high quality sagebrush habitat “cores”
- Sustain the region’s rural, natural resources-based economies and communities, including tribes
- $162 million – Klamath
- Klamath Falls National Fish Hatchery construction
- Securing water for Klamath Wildlife Refuges and improving water quality
- Implementing Tribal and stakeholder basin-wide Klamath restoration priorities
- $200 million – Fish Passage
- Fund the National Fish Passage Program to work with Federal agencies, State governments, private landowners, Tribes, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to restore fish passage and aquatic connectivity by removing or bypassing barriers.
NOAA – National Marine Fisheries Service
- $77 million – Habitat Restoration: National Estuarine Research Reserves
- $172 million – Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery
- $207 million – Habitat Restoration: Coastal Zone Management Program
- $400 million – Fish Passage
- $491 million – Habitat Restoration
- $492 million – National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund
What all of the above points to is better public lands access, fish and wildlife habitat expansion, and increased connectivity and genetic diversity for fishes at the landscape scale. Where and how the myriad projects to be funded through each of these avenues will occur remains in the works. Many will be funded through grant programs facilitating an application and award process to ensure the money is well-spent.