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Three fishing and water recreation bills reported in Senate

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Three bills that could impact fishing and other water-related recreation were reported by the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee last week. The reports first became available online on the congressional website on Sunday, June 8. The Senate can vote on the bills now, though no votes have been scheduled.

The bills ready for votes include the National Fish & Wildlife Act of 2013 (S. 51). The bill would increase the number of directors of the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation from 23 to 28 and reauthorize the foundation. Authorization would last through 2019 but annual funding would be cut from $25 million to $15 million. Funding goes for projects to conserve, fish, wildlife, plants and other natural resources. Companion legislation is pending before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs.

Another bill concerning fishing that got placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar is the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (S. 2080). The bill would create a National Fish Habitat Board to oversee the legislation. The bill would create Fish Habitat Partnerships and conservation projects to prevent declines in fish populations. The bill would require federal, state and local agencies to coordinate on fish conservation projects. No funding under the program could go to buying land, though. The bill would authorize $7.2 million a year for the projects, with five percent reserved for Indian tribes. No similar legislation is pending in the House.

Another bill placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar is the Chesapeake Bay Gateways & Watertrails Network Reauthorization Act (S. 1077). It would reauthorize the network through 2018. The National Park Service's Chesapeake Bay Initiative would get $3 million a year for matching grants to improve public access to the Chesapeake Bay and related education. Companion legislation is pending before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation.

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