A bill was introduced last week in Congress to provide $1.3 billion annually for wildlife conservation across the United States. The proposed legislation, called the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 5650), was authored by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Don Young (R-Alaska). It would use royalties from energy and mineral development on federal lands and waters to fund the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program.
The bill was inspired by a report released last spring by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources:
Our generation has been blessed with abundant elk, wild turkeys and a diversity of sport fish—but this has not always been the case. A century ago, most game species were imperiled and our nation was facing a fish and wildlife crisis. Fortunately hunters, anglers and the shooting sports and fishing industries rose to the occasion and secured funding so the states could do the important work of restoring and managing fish and wildlife. This remarkable partnership led to one of the greatest conservation success stories the world has known. Yet what is hidden from most Americans is another impending fish and wildlife crisis.
For every game species that is thriving, hundreds of nongame species are in decline. Unlike the conservation finance system that was created for game and sport fish, there is no comparable funding mechanism to manage the majority of fish and wildlife under state stewardship. As a result, thousands of species of birds, frogs, turtles and even the iconic monarch butterfly are slipping through the cracks and could become endangered in the future.
The next step is to secure bipartisan co-sponsors of the bill. Let your representatives know you support this important legislation.