[House Report 111-296]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]


111th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    111-296

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  AMENDING THE NORTH AMERICAN WETLANDS CONSERVATION ACT TO ESTABLISH 
REQUIREMENTS REGARDING PAYMENT OF THE NON-FEDERAL SHARE OF THE COSTS OF 
  WETLANDS CONSERVATION PROJECTS IN CANADA THAT ARE FUNDED UNDER THAT 
                      ACT, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

                                _______
                                

October 9, 2009.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Rahall, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 3433]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 3433) to amend the North American Wetlands 
Conservation Act to establish requirements regarding payment of 
the non-Federal share of the costs of wetlands conservation 
projects in Canada that are funded under that Act, and for 
other purposes, having considered the same, report favorably 
thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of H.R. 3433 is to amend the North American 
Wetlands Conservation Act to establish requirements regarding 
payment of the non-Federal share of the costs of wetlands 
conservation projects in Canada that are funded under that Act, 
and for other purposes.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    Wetlands are among the world's most productive ecosystems. 
They provide critical habitat for numerous species of fish and 
wildlife and are particularly important to the life cycles of 
migratory birds and economically important fish species. 
Wetlands also serve as natural flood control basins and water 
filters, and wetland degradation is known to have severe 
negative effects on water quality. Beginning in the 1930's, 
alarming declines in migratory bird populations were linked 
conclusively to the loss of wetland habitats, and consequently, 
over the last 70 years many federal, state, and private 
programs have been initiated to reduce wetland loss and recover 
and restore wetland habitats.
    In 1986, the United States, Canada, and Mexico signed the 
North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP). NAWMP 
committed the federal government to a cooperative international 
effort to reverse the declines in waterfowl populations and 
their wetland habitats. Congress, in recognition of the need to 
support this strategy, enacted the North American Wetlands 
Conservation Act (NAWCA) in 1989.
    NAWCA provides a funding mechanism for cooperative, public-
private wetlands conservation efforts throughout North America 
which support the goals of NAWMP. Funding for conservation 
projects is drawn from four sources: (1) interest from short-
term investment of the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Fund 
(which also contains revenues from taxes on firearms, 
ammunition, bows, and arrows); (2) fines and forfeitures 
imposed for violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; (3) a 
portion of the Sport Fish Restoration Fund (revenues from 
excise taxes on fishing and marine recreation-related 
products); and (4) annual appropriations.
    NAWCA also established a North American Wetlands 
Conservation Council to oversee the selection of wetland 
conservation projects and distribution of grant funds. The Act 
specifies that between 30 to 60 percent of the funds available 
must be spent on projects within Canada and Mexico. The 
remaining 40 to 70 percent must be spent on projects in the 
United States. Any federal, state, local or private 
organization may apply for a grant. NAWCA projects use tools 
such as fee title ownership, conservation easements, and 
landowner agreements to ensure long-term (25 years or more) 
wetlands conservation benefits. The Migratory Bird Conservation 
Commission is required to approve or reject projects 
recommended for approval by the Council. Conservation projects 
aim to protect and/or restore wetlands and associated uplands, 
and, for projects in Mexico, provide funding for educational 
activities. All grants must be matched at least 1:1 with non-
federal funds. Since enactment, grant recipients have generated 
non-federal matching contributions at roughly a 4:1 ratio of 
non-federal to federal dollars.
    The NAWCA competitive matching grant program is popular and 
highly competitive with annual requests for projects far 
exceeding available funds. For fiscal year 2010, a total of 
$33.4 million in funding was approved for 34 wetland 
conservation projects. Project partners are contributing $89.3 
million in matching funds to affect 194,717 acres of habitat, 
and $28 million in non-matching funds to affect an additional 
74,310 acres of habitat. Overall, since the first wetlands 
grants were awarded in 1991, over 1,500 grant projects have 
been funded through NAWCA. These grants, involving more than 
3,000 partners, have invested more than $770 million in federal 
taxpayer funds and generated more than $2.3 billion in private 
matching contributions. Together, these projects have 
protected, restored or enhanced some 23 million acres of 
wetlands and associated uplands in the United States, Canada 
and Mexico.
    Notwithstanding this record, the recent economic recession 
in North America, combined with existing statutory grant 
distribution and matching fund requirements under NAWCA, have 
had severe negative repercussions for projects in Canada.
    Partner organizations, particularly Ducks Unlimited which 
is the most significant non-governmental partner in Canada, 
have been unable to generate sufficient non-federal matching 
contributions to meet existing grant obligations, much less 
pursue new grant applications. In the short-term these 
circumstances could result in partner organizations defaulting 
on existing grant agreements. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service may have to also withdraw grant applications for 
projects in Canada for the lack of non-federal matching funds 
which could leave approximately $11 to $15 million unspent and 
unavailable for conservation projects. What appears likely is 
that it will become increasingly more difficult for NAWCA to 
conserve critical wetland habitats located in Canada and to 
meet the goals of NAWMP unless greater flexibility is allowed 
for grant partners to meet their financial obligations.
    H.R. 3433 would amend NAWCA to allow non-U.S. funds to be 
utilized to satisfy non-federal matching contribution 
requirements for conservation projects implemented in Canada. 
This amendment is intended to increase flexibility for grant 
recipients to meet matching requirements by using Canadian 
funds.

                            Committee Action

    H.R. 3433 was introduced on July 30, 2009 by Congressman 
Robert Wittman (R-VA). The bill was referred to the Committee 
on Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the 
Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife. On 
September 22, 2009, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the 
bill.
    On September 30, 2009, the Subcommittee was discharged from 
further consideration of H.R. 3433 and the full Natural 
Resources Committee met to consider the bill. The bill was 
ordered favorably reported to the House of Representatives by 
unanimous consent.

            Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Article I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United 
States grants Congress the authority to enact this bill.

                    Compliance With House Rule XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
    2. Congressional Budget Act. As required by clause 3(c)(2) 
of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, this 
bill does not contain any new budget authority, spending 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to amend the North American Wetlands 
Conservation Act to establish requirements regarding payment of 
the non-Federal share of the costs of wetlands conservation 
projects in Canada that are funded under that Act, and for 
other purposes.
    4. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate. Under clause 
3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974, the Committee has received the following cost estimate 
for this bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office:

H.R. 3433--A bill to amend the North American Wetlands Conservation Act 
        to establish requirements regarding payment of the nonfederal 
        share of the costs of wetlands conservation projects in Canada 
        that are funded under that Act

    H.R. 3433 would authorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (USFWS) to accept contributions from Canada for the 
nonfederal share of funding for projects carried out under the 
North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). CBO estimates 
that enacting H.R. 3433 would not affect the federal budget.
    Under NAWCA, the USFWS makes grants to nonfederal entities 
such as nonprofit organizations for projects to protect 
migratory bird habitat in North America, conduct research and 
monitoring, and provide education. The act requires that up to 
half of the cost of each project, which may be carried out in 
Canada or Mexico, must be contributed by nonfederal sources, 
and projects in Canada must be funded in U.S. dollars. H.R. 
3433 would allow a portion of the nonfederal funding of NAWCA 
projects in Canada to be paid in Canadian dollars. The bill 
would not change the amounts authorized to be appropriated 
under NAWCA (currently, $75 million through 2012) or provide 
any other funding. In 2009, more than $40 million was 
appropriated for the program.
    The bill contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Deborah Reis. 
The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    Compliance With Public Law 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                           Earmark Statement

    H.R. 3433 does not contain any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 of rule XXI.

                Preemption of State, Local or Tribal Law

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

NORTH AMERICAN WETLANDS CONSERVATION ACT

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SEC. 8. ALLOCATION OF AMOUNTS AVAILABLE TO CARRY OUT THIS ACT.

  (a) * * *
  (b) Cost Sharing.--(1) * * *

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  [(3) The non-Federal share of the United States contribution 
to the costs of such projects may not be derived from Federal 
grant programs. In the case of a project carried out in Mexico, 
the non-Federal share of the United States contribution to the 
costs of the project may include cash contributions from non-
United States sources that are used to pay costs of the 
project.]
  (3) The non-Federal share of the United States contribution 
to the costs of such projects may not be derived from Federal 
grant programs. In the case of a project carried out in Canada 
or Mexico, the non-Federal share of the costs of the project 
may include cash contributions from non-United States sources 
that are used to pay costs of the project. In the case of a 
project carried out in Canada, funds from Canadian sources may 
comprise up to 50 percent of the non-Federal share of the costs 
of the project.

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