U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today introduced the bipartisan North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act (NAWCA), which would reauthorize the program to protect and restore wetlands in all 50 states through 2017. Authorization for the program expired at the end of fiscal year 2012.

"Louisiana, the sportsman's paradise, is home to many of our nation's wetlands, and we obviously cherish them," Vitter said. "Wildlife-related recreation actually generates billions of dollars of economic output each year, and our reauthorization would allow folks across the country to continue protecting and enjoying one of nature's treasures."

NAWCA requires that for every federal dollar put into the program, it must be matched by at least one dollar in nonfederal funds. Due to the highly competitive grant process, each federal dollar is matched $3.20 on average. The program incentivizes non-federal contributions to wetland wildlife habitats at a voluntary basis for private landowners.

The bipartisan legislation is being cosponsored by EPW Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).