US Senate reinvigorates bipartisan push for state and tribal conservation of endangered species with more than $1 billion funding bill
WASHINGTON – Last night, Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced popular, bipartisan legislation in the US Senate to secure funding for state and tribal efforts to conserve endangered species. The American Wildlife Recovery Act (S. 1149), or RAWA, would make nearly $1.4 billion in annual funding available to state and tribal wildlife management agencies, supporting the critical work of conservation, improving fish and wildlife habitat, and boosting America’s outdoor recreation economy.
Members of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers have been vocal advocates for the need for targeted investments in species recovery. The United States Wildlife Recovery Act is the product of decades of hard work and dedicated collaboration from a variety of diverse stakeholders, including athletes, conservationists, and business leaders.
BHA President and CEO Land Tawney underscored the importance of RAWA in maintaining wildlife populations and stressed that the time had come to pass the bill.
“America’s Wildlife Recovery Act will be a vital tool for our state and tribal wildlife managers, providing critical funding to keep common species common…and keeping other species out of the emergency room. Tawny said. “It’s a worthwhile investment and it’s the right thing to do for our diverse ecosystems across North America.”
In the 117th Congress, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) led the effort to promote RAWA in the House of Representatives with 152 Democratic co-sponsors and 42 Republican co-sponsors. On June 14, 2022, RAWA passed the full House with a bipartisan vote of 231-190. RAWA was informed by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works with a bipartisan vote of 15-5 on April 7, 2022. It was included in negotiations until the last minute for the Omnibus Appropriations bill that is due to pass last December .
In the 118th Congress, lawmakers continue to work on a source of payment to offset the cost of legislation, a critical hurdle for it to receive a final vote. Discussions about a House mate are also ongoing, but include talks with Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR).
Tawney stated: “Frankly, we should have done this in 2022. Together we were able to get RAWA through the House, in a bipartisan way, and we had the votes to do the same in the Senate. It didn’t happen then, but now it’s back, and we’re calling on leaders to make this legislation a priority in 2023. Listen to the American people!”
State wildlife agencies have demonstrated the ability to successfully restore habitat for multiple game species, including tule elk in California, harlequin ducks in Montana, northern ruddy ducks in Kansas, and many others. While not all species at risk are game species, they share the same habitat with critical game animals such as mallard, mule deer, pronghorn, and wild trout. Improving the habitat of one species benefits all, including wild game.
The introduction of the bill in the 118th Congress was the result of hard work by a broad coalition of stakeholders, the United States Fish and Wildlife Alliance. Comprised of outdoor industry leaders, state and tribal fish and wildlife agency officials, conservation groups, business interests, and hunters and fishermen, the coalition is committed to achieving comprehensive conservation funding legislation in the United States. .
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