WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, have introduced legislation to reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (S. 310), which would promote the long-term conservation, education, research, monitoring, and habitat protection for more than 380 species of migratory birds.
Migratory birds, including Maryland’s state bird, the Baltimore Oriole, and Ohio’s state bird, the Northern Cardinal, continue to face threats from pesticide pollution, deforestation, sprawl, and invasive species that degrade their habitats. This legislation ensures $6.5 million can be invested each year through 2024 in critical conservation programs that have demonstrated marked successes through public-private partnerships and innovative granting and conservation strategies.
“Migratory birds play a crucial role in our ecosystems, our agriculture, and our national and local cultures,” said Senator Cardin. “The programs funded by the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act have consistent track record of success in helping to sustain populations of migratory birds that face threats to their health and habitats. The reauthorization of this bill marks our continued our commitment to improving our environment and investing in the flora and fauna that help our communities grow and thrive.”
“Hundreds of bird species migrate through Ohio each year, making Lake Erie one of the most popular destinations for birdwatching,” Senator Portman said. “Birding contributes more than $20 million to Ohio’s tourism industry and attracts visitors from across the world each year. Protecting and conserving these bird populations is critically important and I am proud to work with Senator Cardin on this bipartisan legislation.”
Established in 2000, The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act has consistently strengthened our federal investment in habitat protection, education, research and monitoring of birds considered neotropical migrants — birds that spend summers in the United States and winter in Latin America. Their presence is been vital to the well-being of our economy. Farmers rely on these birds to consume billions of harmful insects and rodent pests, pollinate crops, and disperse seeds. Nationwide, bird watchers include more than 47 million Americans who are part of a larger wildlife watching community that spends $30 billion annually.
Since 2002, more than $66 million in grants have been awarded, supporting 570 projects in 36 countries. More than 4.5 million acres of habitat have been positively affected. In 2018, more than $3.8 million in federal funds were matched by more than $14.2 million in partner contributions going to 29 collaborative conservation projects in 16 countries across the Americas.
In addition to Senators Cardin and Portman, original cosponsors include Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).