Michigan Congresswoman, Debbie Dingell, and Nebraska Congressman, Jeff Fortenberry, have re-introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) to Congress earlier this spring. This bipartisan bill would redirect $1.4 billion in annual funding to state and tribal fish and wildlife agencies. These resources would be used towards monitoring and restoring habitat for over 12,000 at-risk species classified in the Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN).
- Fish – Over 40% of freshwater fish are considered at risk.
- Amphibians – 42% of toad, frog, and salamander species are threatened or severely declining.
- Reptiles – 33% of turtles are threatened while 5% of other reptiles share the same classification.
- Birds – 1/3 of bird species are classified as needing urgent conservation action.
- Freshwater Mussels – 70% of freshwater mussels species are already extinct or jeopardized.
“America’s wildlife are in crisis. One-third of all species in the country currently face a heightened risk of extinction. This bill represents a bold, bipartisan vision for how we can recover wildlife and create jobs in every state across the nation,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “There is important work just waiting to be done restoring habitat, removing invasive species, stopping wildlife diseases, reducing water pollution, and mitigating the harm from climate change. This bill will put people to work today protecting our wildlife heritage for tomorrow.”
Preventative, Not Reactive
States, territories, and tribes will be able to invest proactively in local species conservancy before drastic action would need to be enacted under the Endangered Species Act. This would allow for preventative measures to be taken for at-risk species in a more cost and time-effective manner.
Taking measures to protect the natural biodiversity of the United States benefits everyone. Healthy ecosystems allow native flora and fauna to thrive and find balance. This balance is what allows us anglers and outdoor enthusiasts to keep coming back to and discovering our favorite spots. A healthy environment also ensures that the outdoor economy (hunting, fishing, viewing) can continue to operate in a sustainable manner. Future generations of anglers, hunters, and wildland stewards rely on us to keep common species common.
Currently, funding for most local conservation efforts comes from the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants. It is the only program that supports states directly in preventative measures keeping species from becoming threatened or endangered. RAWA would not require any tax increase, as the bill redirects current funds.
To urge Congress to support Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, click here.