Legislation Pertaining to Habitat Restoration
|Federal Legislation - State Legislation
The federal laws listed below contain components that affect, both
directly and indirectly, habitat restoration programs throughout
the United States. The brief descriptions presented offer
an overview of each law and the web site links direct readers
to the official U.S. Code. For information about what specific
habitat restoration programs are funded by which laws, go
to Funding Opportunities.
The primary sources for information concerning federal laws
was the Habitat Restoration Center and the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration. This list was compiled in
Program & Project
Regulation | Special Resources &
Activities | Other Laws of Interest
and Clean Water Act of 2000
President Clinton signed this legislation to protect estuaries.
It establishes an Estuary Habitat Restoration Council that
is responsible for developing a National Habitat Restoration
Strategy within one year and for reviewing and establishing
funding priorities among restoration projects. The goal
is to promote a comprehensive approach to the selection
and prioritization of estuary habitat restoration projects
and the coordination of federal and non-federal restoration
activities. The legislation also reauthorizes the National
Estuary Program and other federal estuary programs. President
George W. Bush is now responsible for appropriations and
implementation of the Act.
Stevenson Fisheries Management and Conservation Act of 1996
Originally introduced in 1956, this legislation (16 U.S.C.
1801 et seq.) has been amended multiple times and was most
recently reauthorized in 2000. The Magnuson-Stevenson Act
governs fishing in all United States waters throughout the
U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (to 200 miles). The purpose
of the Act is to promote conservation and sound management
of commercial and recreational fishing resources. It covers
all species of marine animals and plants, including anadromous
fish, except for marine mammals, birds, and highly migratory
species, all of which are covered under other laws or treaties.
Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration Act of 1990
The Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration
Act of 1990 (16 U.S.C. 3951-3956 (Supp. 1991)) authorizes
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make matching National
Coastal Wetlands Conservation grants to coastal states for
acquiring, managing, restoring, or enhancing wetlands. Priority
is given to projects that are consistent with the National
Wetlands Priority Conservation Plan and that are in states
with dedicated funding programs for the acquisition of coastal
wetlands, natural areas, and open spaces.
Resources Development Act of 1990
The Water Resources Development Act of 1990 (33 U.S.C. 2201-2324
(Supp. 1991) states that the goal of the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers' resources development program is "no overall
net loss" of wetlands. The act also requires the Corps to
develop an action plan to achieve this goal. The action
plan must be prepared in consultation with the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Pollution Act of 1990
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) (33 U.S.C. 2701-2761)
is the principle statute governing oil spills into the nation's
waterways. Passed in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill
in March of 1989, it establishes liability and limitations
on liability for damages resulting from oil pollution, and
establishes a fund for the payment of compensation for such
damages. In conjunction with CERCLA, it mandates a National
Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan
(NCP) to provide the organizational structure and procedures
for preparing for and responding to discharges of oil and
the release of hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants.
American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989
Signed by President Bush, the North American Wetlands Conservation
Act of 1989 (16 U.S.C. 4401-4413 (Supp. 1991)) encouraged
partnerships among federal agencies and others to protect,
restore, enhance, and manage wetlands, and other habitats
for migratory birds, fish and wildlife. The act obligates
annual appropriations for the implementation of the North
American Waterfowl Management Plan, which was signed by
the United States and Canada (and endorsed by Mexico) to
provide a broad framework for waterfowl conservation and
management in North America.
and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1985
The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C.
661-668 (Supp.1991)) established guidelines for consultation
between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers. Mitigation measures are also identified
to prevent the loss of, or damage to, wildlife resources
from permitted activity. The purpose of this act is to provide
fish and wildlife resources "equal consideration" with other
features of water resource development programs.
Zone Management Act of 1972
The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 (16 U.S.C.
1451-1464), and subsequent amendments (1985 and Supp. 1991),
makes federal funds available to encourage states to develop
coastal zone management plans which would provide for conservation
and environmentally sound development of coastal resources.
The purpose of the CZMA is to "preserve, protect, develop,
and where possible, to restore or enhance the resources
of the Nation's coastal zone for this and succeeding generations."
Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 (The Clean Water Act)
The primary goal of this statute, which is more commonly
known as the Clean Water Act (CWA) (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.)
and has since been amended, is to "restore and maintain
the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the
Nation's waters," and to apply the best available and economically
achievable technology in order to obtain water quality at
a level adequate to protect fish, shellfish, wildlife and
human recreational activities. A broad framework of planning,
research, financial assistance, and permits systems was
outlined with the purpose of furthering national goals for
the elimination of both direct and indirect discharge of
pollutants into the navigable waters of the United States.
Environmental Policy Act of 1969
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42
U.S.C. 4321-4375 (1977 and Supp. 1991)) directs all agencies
and the Federal government to address the environmental
consequences of their proposed actions. Federal agencies
must prepare environmental impact statements on major federal
actions, including construction projects, permits, licenses,
etc., that could significantly affect the human environment.
The purpose of the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) is to
disclose to the general public and to resource managers
the probable long- and short-term impacts of the proposal
as well as consideration of less environmentally damaging
alternatives to the recommended course of action.
Protection Act of 1968
The Estuary (Estuarine) Protection Act of 1968 (PL 90-454,
as amended et seq. 16 U.S.C. 1221 et seq.) established congressional
policy on values of estuaries and the need to conserve their
natural resources. The purpose of the act is to provide
a means to protect, conserve, and restore estuaries in a
manner that "adequately and reasonably" maintains a balance
between the national need for protecting and conserving
natural resources and natural beauty and the need to develop
estuaries to further the growth and development of the nation.
Fish Conservation Act of 1965
The Anadromous Fish Conservation Act of 1965 (16 U.S.C.
757a et seq. (Supp. 1965) authorizes the Secretary of the
Interior to cooperate with the states in conserving, developing,
and enhancing the Nation's anadromous fisheries resources.
The act authorizes research, construction, and maintenance
of hatcheries and of structures to improve feeding and spawning
conditions, and to facilitate the free migration of fish.
Aid In Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950
The Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950 (16
U.S.C. 777a-77771 (1985 and Supp. 1991)) provides federal
aid to states in sport fishing restoration work. Also known
as the Dingell-Johnson Act, this legislation is funded by
excise taxes on fishing equipment, import duties on fishing
tackle and pleasure boats, and a portion of a tax on motorboat
Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937
The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 (16
U.S.C. 669 et seq. (1985 and Supp. 1991), which is also
known as the Pittman-Robertson Act), provides federal aid
to states for wildlife restoration work. Funds from an excise
tax on sporting arms and ammunition are provided to sStates
on a matching basis for land acquisition, development, and
and Harbors Act of 1899
The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 401 et seq.)
was originally established to protect interstate commerce
in navigable waters. It is the basic act for controlling
works or activities in navigable waters of the United States,
overseen by the Department of the Army through a public
interest review. This provision calls for the review of
such factors as economics, aesthetics, general environmental
concerns, historical values, water quality, and fish and
wildlife impact before approval of the project is granted.
System Resources Protection Act
The Park System Resources Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 19jj)
requires the Secretary of the Interior to assess and monitor
injuries to park system resources. The act specifically
allows the Secretary to recover response costs and damages
from the responsible party causing the destruction, loss
of or injury to park system resources. It provides that
any monies recovered by the National Park Service may be
used to reimburse the costs of response and damage assessment
and to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the
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Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of
1980 and 1986
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and
Liability Act (CERCLA) (42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.) of 1980
and 1986 is the principle statute governing the cleanup
of sites contaminated with hazardous substances and responses
to spills of those substances. It establishes liability
for site cleanup, prescribes a procedure for identifying
and ranking contaminated sites, provides funding for site
cleanups, reduces uncontrolled releases of hazardous substances,
establishes cleanup procedures that provide protection for
humans and the environment, and restores injured natural
resources through provisions administered by the natural
Resources Protection Act of 1979
The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (16
U.S.C. 470 et seq.) makes it illegal to excavate or remove
from federal or Indian lands any archaeological resources
without a permit from the land manager. Permits may be issued
only to educational or scientific institutions and only
if the resulting activities will increase knowledge about
archeological resources. Major penalties for violating the
law are included.
Species Act of 1973
The Endangered Species Act (ESA), first enacted in 1973
and amended in both 1955 and 1991 (16 U.S.C. 1361-1407),
prohibits any action that could harm, harass, or further
endanger federally designated endangered or threatened plant
or animal species or the associated critical habitat. The
purposes of the ESA are, in part, "to provide a means whereby
the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species
depend may be conserved and to provide a program for the
conservation of such endangered and threatened species…"
Mammal Protection Act of 1972
The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (as amended 16
U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) generally prohibits taking and importation
of marine mammals. Both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
and the National Marine Fisheries Service have jurisdictional
responsibilities under this law.
Historic Preservation Act
The National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470 et
seq.) created the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
(ACHP), an independent federal agency, to advise the President
and Congress on matters involving historic preservation.
The ACHP is authorized to review and comment on all actions
licensed by the federal government which will have an effect
on properties listed in the National Register of Historic
and Wildlife Act of 1956
The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a - 742j,
not including 742d-1) establishes a comprehensive national
fish, shellfish, and wildlife resources policy with emphasis
on the commercial fishing industry, but also with a direction
to administer the act with regard to the inherent right
of every citizen and resident to fish for pleasure, enjoyment,
and betterment and to maintain and increase public opportunities
for recreational use of fish and wildlife resources. Among
other things, it directs a program of continuing research,
extension, and information services on fish and wildlife
matters, both domestic and international.
Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act
The Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (33
U.S.C. 1401 et seq.) regulates the ocean dumping of waste,
provides for a research program on ocean dumping, and provides
for the designation and regulation of marine sanctuaries.
Often known as the Ocean Dumping Act, it regulates the ocean
dumping of all material beyond the territorial limit (three
miles from shore) and prevents or strictly limits dumping
material that "would adversely affect human health, welfare,
or amenities, or the marine environment, ecological systems,
or economic potentialities."
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Wetlands Resources Act of 1986
The Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986 (16 U.S.C.
3901) was enacted to "promote the conservation of migratory
waterfowl and to offset or prevent the serious loss of wetlands
by the acquisition of wetlands and other essential habitat."
Under the Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed
a National Wetlands Priority Conservation Plan to identify
the locations and types of wetlands that should be priorities
for state and federal acquisition.
Order 11990 (Protection of Wetlands) of 1977
Executive Order 11990 of 1977 (42 F.R. 26961 as amended
by Exec. Order #12608 (1987), reprinted in 42 U.S.C. 4321
app. at 244-245 (1991)), issued by President Jimmy Carter,
officially recognized the value of the country's wetlands.
Through this order, the President directed federal agencies
to take actions to minimize the long- and short-term, indirect
and direct, adverse impacts associated with the destruction
or modification of wetlands, and to preserve and enhance
the natural and beneficial values of wetlands in carrying
out their responsibilities.
and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1974
Under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1974 (16
U.S.C. 4601-4 to 4601-11 (1974 and Supp. 1991)), states
and local communities could receive Federal matching grants
to acquire recreational lands and natural areas, including
wetlands. This legislation was amended in 1986 by the Emergency
Wetlands Resources Act. The change required States to identify
the agencies and organizations involved in wetlands management,
evaluate existing and proposed wetlands protection mechanisms,
assess wetlands resources, identify wetlands loss and degradation
factors, and establish priorities for protection.
Air Act of 1970
The Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.) is the comprehensive
federal law that regulates air emissions from area, stationary,
and mobile sources. This law authorizes the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency to establish National Ambient Air Quality
Standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and the environment.
States were directed to develop implementation plans applicable
to industrial sources in the state. The act was amended
in 1977 to set new goals for achieving attainment of NAAQS
since many areas of the country had failed to meet the deadlines
previously set for 1975. The act was also amended in 1990.
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968
The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 (16 U.S.C.
1271 et seq.), and amendments, create a system for designation
and preservation of free-flowing rivers through private,
state, or federal land. The overall objective of this legislation
is to complement the federal dam construction policy with
"a policy to preserve selected rivers or sections thereof
in their free-flowing condition to protect the water quality
of such rivers and to fulfill other vital national conservation
Bird Treaty Act of 1918
The migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, as amended in 1936,
1972, 1974, and 1976 (16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.), implements
treaties with Great Britain (for Canada), Mexico, Japan,
and Russia for protection of migratory birds whose welfare
is a federal responsibility. The act regulates the taking,
selling, transporting, and importing of migratory birds,
and provides penalties for violations.
Park Act of August 19, 1916
The National Park Act of August 19, 1916 (16 U.S.C. 1 et
seq.), also known as the Organic Act, created in the Department
of the Interior, the National Parks Service (NPS). The NPS
is charged with the promotion and regulation of the use
of the federal areas known as national parks, monuments
and reservations, so as to conform with "the fundamental
purpose to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic
objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the
enjoyment for the same in such manner and by means as will
leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."
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