Source: United States Senator for Ohio Rob Portman
Headline: Portman, Cardin Seek Protections for the Northern Cardinal, Baltimore Oriole and other Migratory Birds
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Ben Cardin (D-MD), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, have introduced legislation (S. 1537) to reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, which would help sustain populations of migratory birds that face threats to their health and habitats. Their bill, reintroduced as the Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Act, promotes long-term conservation, education, research, monitoring, and habitat protection for more than 350 species of migratory birds including Ohio’s state bird, the northern cardinal, and Maryland’s state bird, the Baltimore oriole. The bill furthers investment in critical conservation programs that have demonstrated marked successes through public-private partnerships and innovative granting and conservation strategies.
“Hundreds of bird species migrate through Ohio each year, making Lake Erie one of the most popular destinations for birdwatching,” Senator Portman said. “Birding contributes more than $20 million to Ohio’s tourism industry and attracts visitors from across the world each year. I am proud to work with my colleagues on the Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Act to protect and conserve these bird populations so that they may be enjoyed by future generations.”
“Our goal is to continue to sustain healthy populations of migratory birds that are not only aesthetically beautiful, but also critical to our farmers through consuming billions of harmful insects and rodent pests, pollinating crops, and dispersing seeds,” said Senator Cardin. “This simple legislation reauthorizes a cost-effective, budget-friendly and highly successful federal program to protect birds, including the Baltimore oriole that have seen a steady decline in their populations despite being protected by federal and state laws.
For nearly a decade, federal investment in habitat protection, education, research and monitoring of neotropical migratory birds has been vital to the well-being of our economy. Nationwide, bird watchers include more than 47 million Americans who are part of a larger wildlife watching community that spends $30 billion annually. Ohio is home to the annual “Biggest Week in American Birding”, based at Maumee Bay State Park. Last year, the week-long event brought in an estimated 77,000 visitors.
The S. 1537, Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Act, formerly the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, has a proven track record of reversing habitat loss and advancing conservation strategies for the hundreds of species of birds considered neotropical migrants—birds that spend summers in the United States and winter in Latin America.
Since 2002, more than $58.5 million in grants have been awarded, supporting 510 projects in 36 countries. Partners have contributed an additional $222 million, and more than 4.2 million acres of habitat have been improved. In 2016, the grants totaled $4 million, with nearly $17 million in matching funds across 17 countries. However, migratory birds continue to face threats from pesticide pollution, deforestation, sprawl, and invasive species that degrade their habitats.
In 2014, Senator Portman worked to pass a resolution to recognize the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the last known passenger pigeon, once the world’s most abundant bird. The resolution highlighted the importance of conserving wildlife populations.