Late Friday night, the House passed President Joe Biden’s widely discussed infrastructure bill – all $1.2 trillion worth of it. The mostly partisan vote – 13 Republican representatives voted for it, while six Democrats offered up nay votes – provides plenty of improvements for roads, and bridges, plus other funding that many in Congress objected to.
But what will the bill mean to those in the outdoors community – not to mention fish and wildlife. Our sister magazine Northwest Sportsman broke down some of the details late last night.
Here’s also a report from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Project with reaction from CEO Whit Forsburgh and also some bullet points:
“Making this commitment to our nation’s land, water, and wildlife signals that lawmakers understand the relationship between infrastructure and natural resources,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The provisions within this comprehensive package are not only worth the investment as we think about the future—many are long overdue. We look forward to President Biden signing and enacting this legislation that makes a strong commitment to conservation.”
Numerous provisions in the $1.2-trillion bipartisan deal are top TRCP priorities, including:
- $350 million for a first-of-its-kind grant program to construct wildlife-friendly roadway crossings and reconnect fragmented migration corridors.
- $250 million for the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program to improve access to Forest Service public lands and safeguard fish and wildlife habitatfrom harmful runoff and pollutants caused by roads in disrepair.
- Reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which pays for fisheries conservation, access improvements, and education for anglers and boaters.
- $1.4 billion for natural infrastructure solutions through the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Grant Program.
- $14.65 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program, which supports estuary restoration and stormwater management projects.
- $400 million for WaterSMART grants, with $100 million set aside for natural infrastructure solutions that enhance resilience to drought and wildfires, facilitate water conservation, create new habitat, and improve water quality.
- Significant investments in programs aimed at enhancing the resiliency of Western watersheds to climate change and drought, including $300 million to implement the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plans, $3.2 billion to modernize aging agricultural infrastructure and generate benefits for fish and wildlife, and $50 million to support ongoing Endangered Species recoveryefforts that sustain habitat for native fish.
UPDATE: Statement from Interior Department
WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland applauded the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (BID), a once-in-a-generation investment that will help communities tackle the climate crisis while creating good-paying union jobs, advancing environmental justice, and boosting local economies. The legislation is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is an historic down payment on ensuring that future generations have clean air, drinkable water, fertile soil, and an overall quality of life that is currently threatened by the worsening climate crisis,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “As our communities bear the brunt of intensifying droughts, wildfires, flooding, and legacy pollution, the BID’s investments will be crucial to ensuring local, state, and Tribal communities have the resources they need to bolster climate resilience and protect natural areas. The Interior Department stands ready to implement this transformational investment in our country as quickly as possible.”
The BID contains several provisions that fund Interior Department initiatives and benefit the communities we directly serve.
The legislation makes historic investments in bolstering climate resiliency, including:
- $8.3 Billion Investment in Water and Drought Resilience. There is an urgent need to minimize the impacts of drought and develop a long-term plan to facilitate conservation and economic growth. Our shared priority is to build resilient communities and protect our water supplies for people and the natural environment. The BID’s investments will fund water efficiency and recycling programs, rural water projects, WaterSMART grants, and dam safety to ensure that irrigators, Tribes, and adjoining communities receive adequate assistance and support.
- $1.5 Billion Investment in Wildfire Resilience. Climate change is driving the devastating intersection of extreme heat, drought, and wildland fire danger across the United States, creating wildfires that move with a speed and intensity previously unseen. The BID will help better prepare communities and ecosystems against the threat of wildland fire by making historic investments in forest restoration, hazardous fuels management and post-wildfire restoration activities across America’s national parks, forests and grasslands, as well as investing in our federal firefighters.
$1.4 Billion Investment in Ecosystem Restoration and Resilience. Climate change is impacting our natural ecosystems in ways never seen before. Changing temperatures are affecting water supplies, altering wildlife habitat and migration patterns, introducing new pests and diseases, and causing devastation from wildland fire. The BID makes a critical investment in the resilience and restoration of America’s lands, including funding for stewardship contracts, ecosystems restoration projects, invasive species detection and prevention, and native vegetation restoration efforts.
$466 Million Investment in Tribal Climate Resilience and Infrastructure. As the effects of climate change continue to intensify, Indigenous communities are facing unique climate-related challenges. Flooding, erosion, permafrost subsidence, sea level rise, and storm surges are presenting existential threats to communities’ economies, infrastructure, livelihoods, and health. The BID’s investments will support community-led transitions for the most vulnerable Tribal communities, including climate adaptation planning, ocean and coastal management planning, capacity building, and relocation, managed retreat, and protect-in-place planning for climate risks. It will also help fund construction, repair, improvement, and maintenance of irrigation and power systems, safety of dams, water sanitation, and other facilities in Tribal communities.
The legislation also invests in supporting and protecting communities by funding:
- $16 Billion Investment in Legacy Pollution Clean-Up. The Department is committed to helping working families, often in rural and Tribal communities, who face hazardous pollution, toxic water levels, and land subsidence both during mining and long after coal companies have moved on. The BID makes historic investments to plug orphan wells and reclaim abandoned mine lands, which will help communities eliminate dangerous conditions and pollution caused by past coal mining. These funds support vitally needed jobs for coal communities by funding projects that close dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unstable slopes, improve water quality by treating acid mine drainage, and restore water supplies damaged by mining.
- $2.5 Billion Investment in Indian Water Rights Settlements. Water is a sacred resource, and water rights are crucial to ensuring the health, safety and empowerment of Tribal communities. The Department is committed to upholding our trust responsibilities and delivering long-promised water resources to Tribes, certainty to all their non-Indian neighbors, and a solid foundation for future economic development for entire communities dependent on common water resources. The BID’s historic investments will help the Department fulfill settlements of Indian water rights claims.