Bill Introduced In House With Dedicated $1.4 Billion To Prevent Fish/Wildlife From Becoming Endangered; $97 Million For Tribes

U.S. House Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) have reintroduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act that would dedicate roughly $1.4 billion to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program. The money would fund voluntary efforts led by the states, territories and tribal nations to prevent vulnerable wildlife from becoming endangered.

“Bold solutions are needed to safeguard our nation’s wildlife from further decline,” said Dingell. “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act represents a strong commitment to addressing the current biodiversity crisis using innovative, state-based management that will safeguard our nation’s environmental heritage for current and future generations.”

“RAWA is a smart upstream policy that promotes continuity of habitats and helps prevent the costly downstream emergency room procedures of the Endangered Species Act. Through proactive, collaborative, and voluntary partnerships with states, RAWA enhances community recreational opportunity for birders, hikers, hunters, anglers and all who enjoy the beauty of nature,” said Fortenberry.

The text of RAWA is available here.

Fact sheets from the National Wildlife Federation is available here

“More than one-third of all wildlife species in the United States are at-risk or vulnerable to extinction. If we are serious about saving our wildlife heritage, we must invest in on-the-ground solutions that match the magnitude of the crisis,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We can overcome America’s wildlife crisis by restoring and reconnecting habitat, removing invasive species, eradicating wildlife diseases, reducing pollution, and mitigating climate impacts — the future of the natural world depends upon us.

Dingell and Fortenberry first introduced the bill in 2017 based on a recommendation from a panel of conservation and business leaders.

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, a group of national business and conservation leaders co-chaired by Bass Pro Shops founder John L. Morris and former Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal, convened in 2015 to recommend a new mechanism to sustainably fund fish and wildlife conservation. In March, 2016, the Panel recommended creating a $1.3 billion dedicated funding stream to support implementation of State Wildlife Action Plans in every state, territory, and the District of Columbia.

Without a change in the financing of fish and wildlife conservation, the list of federally threatened and endangered species is expected to grow from nearly 1,600 species today to thousands more in the future, said Dingell and Fortenberry in a press release.

“The new dedicated funding created by the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is aimed at preventing wildlife from becoming endangered to ensure the long-term health of all fish and wildlife that provide countless hours of outdoor enjoyment for the nation’s citizens.

“Built on the premise that the best way to save America’s wildlife is through collaborative, proactive, on-the ground conversation, RAWA would help recover 12,000 species considered in need, including more than 1,600 species listed under the Endangered Species Act.”

Wildlife recovery efforts would be guided by the congressionally-mandated State Wildlife Action Plans, which identify specific strategies to restore the populations of species of greatest conservation need.

Tribal Nations would receive $97.5 million annually to fund proactive wildlife conservation efforts on roughly 140 million acres of land.

The bill complements the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson) and Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (Dingell-Johnson), which have facilitated the state-led recovery of a range of large mammals, game birds, and sportfish that faced potential extinction last century.

A 2018 report, Reversing America’s Wildlife Crisis: Securing the Future of Our Fish and Wildlife, found that one-third of America’s wildlife species are at increased risk of extinction. More than 150 U.S. species have already gone extinct and an additional 500 species have not been seen in recent decades and are regarded as possibly extinct.

Last session’s House bill (H.R. 4647) garnered 117 cosponsors with both parties strongly represented.

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