Weekly Columns

Arkansas is blessed with a wonderful landscape and incredible wildlife that people from all across the country come to our state to enjoy. Preserving and protecting our environment is vital to enabling future generations of Americans to participate in popular outdoor activities. This Congress, we’ve taken significant action to improve federal conservation programs, most recently with the enactment of America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act.

This bipartisan conservation law advances and expands programs to safeguard wildlife and ecosystems. It will enable us to better implement collaborative strategies to protect and restore wetland habitat by reauthorizing critical programs that have a track record of success like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). This program has resulted in the restoration of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat in Arkansas and more than 30 million acres nationwide.

Our state has also benefited from the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP), a program Arkansas Game and Fish Commission assistant chief of fisheries, Jason Olive, says has recently helped projects on Lake Poinsett and Lake Ouachita. This law codifies the NFHP and increases federal support for its efforts to improve fish habitat and the jobs and businesses that depend on a healthy and robust fish population.

This law also helps maintain a healthy wildlife population. Arkansas hunters are facing new challenges and emerging threats to the safety of the deer population as a result of chronic wasting disease (CWD). Since it was first detected in the state four years ago, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has taken strategic actions to prevent the spread of this degenerative disease in deer, elk and moose by implementing innovative ways to address this problem. The ACE Act establishes a CWD task force within the U.S. Department of the Interior so we can expand federal assistance to better collaborate with state and local officials to fight this disease.

As an avid outdoorsman, I’m proud to advocate and support federal programs that strengthen our nation’s wetlands and bolster waterfowl habitat. That’s why I cosponsored this legislation in the Senate and worked with wildlife conservation groups to help move this through the legislative process. When President Trump signed this bipartisan bill into law last month, there was widespread support among conservationists, hunters and anglers because all of these stakeholders want what’s best for our public lands, and we all want to be able to utilize these national treasures for years to come. 

Earlier this year, Congress passed, and the president signed into law, the Great American Outdoors Act which invests in the upkeep of public lands. With both bills signed into law, this Congress has been a “banner year for the conservation community” one wildlife conservation leader said. This underscores how broad the consensus is around the necessity to protect our natural resources.

We’ve made remarkable progress this year, and I’m committed to advocating for and promoting policies that preserve and protect our wildlife and wetlands.