• Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

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Legislation to Bolster Hemispheric Bird Conservation Reintroduced in the U.S. House

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Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. David Joyce (R-OH), and Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) have introduced bipartisan legislation, the Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Enhancements Act, to help conserve migrating birds up and down the Western Hemisphere. The legislation would reauthorize and enhance the existing Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act grant program that has supported more than 700 habitat restoration and protection projects in 43 countries across the Americas, 40 U.S. states and territories, as well as provinces and territories across Canada.

“We have lost three billion birds in North America alone since 1970, and to stem the tide of further devastating losses of migratory birds, we need to invest in protecting their habitats across the Western Hemisphere,” said Felice Stadler, vice president of government affairs, National Audubon Society. “The Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Enhancements Act is a straightforward and cost-effective way for the United States to build partnerships throughout the hemisphere to protect birds wherever they fly.”

Scarlet Tanager, copyright Kanae Hirabayashi, from the surfbirds galleries 

Similar versions of this legislation were introduced in both the House and Senate in 2022 during the 117th Congress.

“We are excited to see bipartisan support for enhancing this important program and look forward to working to advance this legislation,” added Stadler “The proposed bill will help increase investments in on-the-ground habitat protection, restoration, education, and research. It will also ensure those funds are leveraged by other governments and partners.”

More than 350 neotropical bird species, including the Scarlet Tanager, Purple Martin and Baltimore Oriole migrate across the U.S., Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Canada every year. Since the NMBCA was passed in 2000, the U.S. has invested more than $89 million which has sparked an additional $346 million in matching funds from public and private partnerships. With passage of The Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Enhancement Act we can continue the legacy of this program and help catalyze funding from a range of sources beyond the U.S. government.

Every spring, billions of birds travel thousands of miles from Latin America and the Caribbean to their breeding grounds in the U.S. and Canada, as far north as the Arctic. As fall and winter approaches, these migratory birds make the long trip back south. Apart from being among the most stunning and awe-inspiring species enjoyed by birdwatchers, these more than 350 species of birds are also economically important for their role in pest control, seed dispersal, pollination for agriculture, and ecotourism.