EPW Business Meeting Statement: Consideration of the Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy (HELP) for Wildlife Act

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a business meeting to consider S.1514, the Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy (HELP) for Wildlife Act. Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As we heard from our witnesses last week, the HELP for Wildlife Act addresses many issues that are important to our nation’s sportsmen and women, who are working collectively to ensure that outdoor recreation opportunities abound for future generations. I am especially pleased that the programs reauthorized in this legislation are highly leveraged by private funding – funding that is often secured by the outdoor recreation community. I am encouraged that these dedicated individuals are willing to work hard to better conserve our nation’s wildlife.

“These programs also create wonderful opportunities in my home state of Delaware. I was pleased to learn from Dale Hall last week that Delaware has 10 projects completed or underway because of funding through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. These projects have conserved more than 10,000 acres of wetlands, and contributions from partners tripled the government’s investment in these projects. Delaware receives approximately $2 million per year through the Chesapeake Bay Program for a variety of nonpoint source pollution control, habitat conservation, and other initiatives that help improve local water quality, benefit fish and wildlife and reduce the flow of harmful nutrients and sediments downriver to the Chesapeake Bay.

“Building upon these necessary investments in the Bay Watershed, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation enables complementary water quality improvements by working with Delaware communities and agricultural industries. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation also recently funded monitoring and restoration in our beloved First State National Historical Park to provide a better Park experience for our residents and visitors. Last, but not least, the Migratory Bird Conservation Act and National Fish Habitat Partnerships create and conserve habitats for some of our state’s most important bird and fish species.

“For all of these reasons, I support the HELP for Wildlife Act. However, no bill is perfect, and this one is no exception. I must respectfully reaffirm my concerns with the provisions in this bill that remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves and prohibit judicial review in the western Great Lakes and Wyoming. I have listened carefully to our colleagues and stakeholders on both sides of this difficult issue. While I understand the Chairman’s concerns, I continue to believe that Congressional intervention is not the best path forward, and I would urge us not to make it a habit. Having said that, Mr. Chairman, I do want to thank you for your efforts to produce a bipartisan bill. I look forward to working with you going forward.