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Federal spending bill includes funding for CWD research, wetlands conservation

The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act would split $70 million annually through fiscal year 2028 on management and research priorities.

CWD deer
CWD research will benefit under legislation passed by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Contributed / Wisconsin DNR
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WASHINGTON –The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have passed legislation to fund the federal government in a package that also includes funding for several critical conservation programs and initiatives, conservation groups said Friday.

Among them are the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), which received a record $50 million, according to Ducks Unlimited, and the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act.

The CWD legislation advances much-needed solutions for curbing the spread of CWD, which is 100% fatal to deer, elk and moose, and would split $70 million annually through fiscal year 2028 on management and research priorities.

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The legislation now awaits the president’s signature.

“As hunters, we celebrate this decisive action by our lawmakers to infuse state and Tribal agencies with the resources needed to control CWD, while investing in targeted research to create stronger disease solutions,” Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said in a statement. “Both efforts are necessary to ensure the future of our wild deer herds, our continued hunting opportunities and the strong impacts of hunter-driven conservation funding.”

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Adam Putnam, Ducks Unlimited CEO, called the record NAWCA funding “a home run for the nation’s most wetlands conservation program.”

NAWCA is a voluntary matching grant program that leverages non-federal and federal funds for wetland restoration. Since enactment in 1989, NAWCA has conserved more than 30 million acres and created an average of 7,500 new jobs annually. Every dollar spent by the federal government, on average, receives a $3 match from program partners like Ducks Unlimited. Further demonstrating the effectiveness of investments made by wetlands programs like NAWCA, the recent State of the Birds report revealed widespread losses of birds in all habitats – except wetlands.

The legislation also includes the Charitable Conservation Easement Integrity Act, which stops the abuse of syndicated conservation easements and reserves deductions for true charitable conservation purposes. Also included were important policy provisions from the Growing Climate Solutions Act and the Sponsoring USDA Sustainability Targets in Agriculture to Incentivize Natural Solutions (SUSTAINS) Act.

Other notable conservation programs to receive funding include:

  • Partners for Fish and Wildlife: $60.2 million.
  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI): $368 million.
  • North American Waterfowl Management Plan/Joint Venture Programs: $16.8 million.
  • National Wildlife Refuge System: $541.5 million.
  • State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Programs: $73.8 million.
  • NRCS conservation operations: $941.1 million.
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