On August 2, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) issued a press release regarding the $550 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act being debated on Capitol Hill. According to ASA, the bipartisan Senate Infrastructure Bill supports the outdoor recreation economy.
“From promoting aquatic resource conservation, to enhancing our transportation network so the industry can deliver product, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would be a major boost to the nation’s $129 billion recreational fishing industry,” said ASA vice president of Government Affairs Mike Leonard, who added “These investments in infrastructure that benefit sportfishing will create jobs, conserve the aquatic environment and preserve one of the nation’s most cherished pastimes.”
According to ASA, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes many of the tackle trade association’s top legislative priorities, including reauthorizing the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. The bill also authorizes $1 billion for the National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration Program which will address challenges with hundreds of culverts around the country that block upstream migrations of anadromous fish such as salmon, steelhead and sturgeon.
Other ASA-supported provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act include:
- Text of the REPLANT Act, which will help the U.S. Forest Service plant 1.2 billion trees on national forest lands and create nearly 49,000 jobs over the next decade;
- $11.3 billion for the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program, which restores mine lands no longer in use that are potential sources of hazardous materials that can leak into lakes, rivers and streams;
- $250 million for the Forest Service’s Legacy Road and Trail program, which funds activities to restore fish passage in streams at road and trail crossings; and
- $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
- $238 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program
- $16 million for the South Florida Program
- $79 million for the Columbia River Basin Program
- $172 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund
“These investments in fisheries conservation and access are a reflection of the growing recognition among policymakers that outdoor recreation in general, and recreational fishing specifically, is a major economic driver,” said Leonard.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) also weighed in on the infrastructure bill in support of the following measures contained in the $17 billion earmarked for U.S. ports and waterways:
- Roughly $10 billion to support US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) infrastructure priorities—such as construction projects to address the large backlog of authorized projects that have yet to receive funding. This measure also includes a dedicated amount for repairing damages to USACE projects caused by natural disasters, helping to provide updates for key recreational areas.
- $455 million annually for five years for the Department of Transportation’s Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP), which will allow significant improvements to port facilities on coasts, rivers, and the Great Lakes.
- $5 million annually for five years for the Marine Highways Program funds, which will work to expand the use of America’s navigable waters and expand marine highway service options.
- $429 million for US Coast Guard infrastructure priorities, which includes funding for shore construction infrastructure and facility deficiency needs that the Coast Guard relies on to provide services and protect the public.
“With a final Senate vote expected on the bipartisan infrastructure package in the coming days, NMMA applauds the decision to include funding for essential water and recreation infrastructure needs, many of which have been priorities in the association’s advocacy efforts over the past year,” NMMA said in an official statement on August 3.