DC Download: April 2024

Apr 4, 2024

Last week in DC, the NERRA Board came out in a full court press and learned that support for the Reserve System and the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) is growing!

The bipartisan bill—Resilient Coasts and Estuaries Act bill (H.R. 7841)—now has 16 co-sponsors in the House and formal support from 29 nonprofit organizations. In the Senate, there is bipartisan support for the introduction of a companion bill, and NERRA is encouraging Senate offices to work with committee staff to make this happen. 

Board members met with congressional staff to build support for an increase in funding for the NERRS FY 2025 budget: $47M for operations (ORF) and $10M for PAC. Encouragingly, Representative Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) and Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) are asking fellow members to sign a “Dear Colleague” letter that urges funding for the NERRS, Coastal Zone Management, and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management at our requested levels. This is critical as we prepare to welcome the Atchafalaya Reserve in Louisiana and the Bay of Green Bay Reserve in Wisconsin. 

The Board hosted seven congressional staff and committee members at their meeting in late March. NERRA President Mike De Luca and Board Member Kawika Winter, PhD, also presented to congressional staff, along with Coastal Zone Management colleagues from California, Virginia, and Florida at a briefing sponsored by NERRA and the Coastal States Organization.

In Hawai’i, the He’eia Reserve welcomed Representatives Jill Tokuda (D-HI) and Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) in a site visit sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Congressional Exchange program, which provides members from both parties opportunities to learn about one another’s issues. We applaud our He’eia colleagues for building bipartisan understanding of Reserve work and encourage other sites to invite congressional staff from DC and home offices to their Reserves to educate them about our programs. 

The Administration presented its budget for FY 2025 last month. Unfortunately, it recommends cutting the NERRS Operations and PAC funds to $32.5M and $4M respectively. This would be an $800,000 reduction to Operations and a $4.5M reduction to PAC. The take home message is clear: NERRA and all Reserves friends and partners need to continue to ask Congress for the funding we need.

Members of Congress planting taro.

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ReservesBay of Green BayDC Download: April 2024