New legislation from U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) will dedicate $1.4 billion annually to proactive, voluntary, locally-led efforts to recover thousands of at-risk wildlife species while creating jobs and ensuring our outdoor heritage endures for future generations.
“The historic, bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is by far the most important piece of wildlife legislation in the past half century,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “At a time when more than one-third of wildlife species are at heightened risk of extinction, this critical legislation will help recover thousands of at-risk species through proactive, collaborative efforts in every state, territory, and Tribal nation, creating jobs while preventing extinctions. We applaud the incredible bipartisan leadership of Senator Heinrich and Senator Blunt, and their House partners Rep. Dingell and Rep. Fortenberry, who are all demonstrating once again that wildlife conservation can unite all Americans.”
“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is grateful for the leadership of Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chair Sen. Martin Heinrich and CSC Member Sen. Blunt for introducing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act,” said the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s Jeff Crane. “This 21st century, proactive conservation initiative is critical to turning the corner on fish and wildlife conservation before more costly measures are necessary.”
“Fish and wildlife need healthy habitats to thrive — enhancing our lives, supporting good jobs, and providing many other benefits,” said Johnny Morris, noted conservationist and founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops. “State fish and wildlife agencies have a solid track record of accomplishing remarkable recovery and restoration successes, but to ensure diverse fish and wildlife resources thrive for future generations we must restore habitat all across America by passing the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.”
The Senate version of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act largely mirrors the bipartisan House bill, while leveraging funds from penalties paid by polluters and those convicted of environmental crimes to restore and reconnect degraded habitat, remove invasive species, confront wildlife disease, and bolster resilience to climate impacts.
More about the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act dedicates nearly $1.4 billion annually to prevent vulnerable species from declining to the point where they need the protections of the federal Endangered Species Act while providing a significant new source of funding for species that already are federally protected.
Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) reintroduced an updated version of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act in the House in April.
Last session’s House bill had 185 bipartisan co-sponsors and passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee with an overwhelming 26-6 vote. A version of the bill passed the House as part of the infrastructure package, H.R. 2 Moving Forward Act. In the 115th Congress, the House bill had 116 co-sponsors, with a nearly even split between Democrats and Republicans.
The state-led wildlife recovery efforts funded by this bill will be guided by the Congressionally-mandated State Wildlife Action Plans, which identify specific, science-based strategies to restore the populations of species of greatest conservation need. These plans identify more than 12,000 species that need conservation assistance.
Tribal nations would receive $97.5 million annually to fund proactive wildlife conservation efforts by Tribal wildlife programs and on Tribal lands.
The bill requires at least 15 percent of the funding to be spent on threatened and endangered species. States with the most federally-listed endangered and threatened species, such as Hawaii, will receive significantly more funding from this version of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.
The bill complements the highly successful Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson) and Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (Dingell-Johnson), which facilitated the recovery of a range of species including large mammals, game birds, and sportfish that once faced extinction.
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.
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