Conservation Featured

ACE Act a big win for fish habitat

A brook trout hooked by a fly.

Decades of hard work pays off with passage of the American Conservation Enhancement Act 

This week, anglers across the nation are celebrating the passage of a sprawling conservation bill, the American Conservation Enhancement Act (H.R. 925/S.3051), or ACE Act for short. Earlier this month, the package was approved by the U.S. Senate, and on Thursday, it passed in the House of Representatives. The ACE Act now goes on to President Trump for his signature.  He is expected to sign it. 

Big wins for TU and fish habitat, including National Fish Habitat Partnership Program

The ACE Act wraps up dozens of conservation initiatives into a single bill and is the successful result of decades of hard work from TU grassroots advocates and our conservation partners.  

TU is particularly excited about Title II of the ACE Act, which formally recognizes the National Fish Habitat Partnership Program (NFHP). The program was created in 2006 by state fisheries agencies to improve fishing, fish habitat and water quality. The legislation will codify regional partnerships that accomplish the goals of the program, including the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, the Driftless Area Restoration Effort, Western Native Trout Initiative and Alaska’s Southeast and Mat-Su Alaska Fish Habitat Partnerships. Working through these partnerships, TU has funds provided by the program, often at a 5 to 1 ratio, to improve coldwater habitat for species like the native brook trout in Appalachia and the upper Midwest.  

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation reauthorization  

The bill reauthorizes funding for one of Trout Unlimited’s greatest conservation partners, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). NFWF has awarded TU millions in federal grants to protect and restore trout and salmon habitat across the country.  

NFWF $580,000 grants to TU to conserve Lahontan cutthroat trout.  

Chesapeake Bay Program

The ACE Act reauthorizes the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program at $90 million per year through 2025. Spanning six states and covering nearly 65,000 square miles, the Chesapeake Bay watershed is a massive drainage that supports some of the last remaining populations of native brook trout in the United States. Trout Unlimited leverages funding from the program to protect and restore the quality trout habitat in the headwaters of the Chesapeake.  

Want to know more about the Chesapeake watershed? Check this out: A Nation’s River 

The programs above are just a few special highlights of the bill, with benefits hunters and anglers by improving other programs like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act to improve federal action against invasive species, and more.  

Trout Unlimited salutes the excellent bipartisan leadership that enabled the bill to pass this Congress, including that of Sens. Barrasso, Carper, Crapo, Cardin, and Reps. Grijalva, Huffman, Thompson,  Cunningham, Wittman, Veasey and Bishop.