Tag Archives: Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Association Of DFWs Cheers US House Hearing On Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ASSOCIATION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE AGENCIES

Today, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies was pleased to witness the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife hearing on two bills, including the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R.3742).  The Association applauds Chairman Jared Huffman (D-CA) for his leadership in bringing H.R. 3742 up for a subcommittee hearing and looks forward to working with him and his colleagues in the subcommittee to advance this important legislation that has over 130 bipartisan cosponsors.

A SIGN ON THE CHESAW WILDLIFE AREA IN NORTHCENTRAL WASHINGTON ADVISES HUNTERS THAT A RARE, OFF-LIMITS GROUSE SPECIES MAKES THEIR HOME THERE ALONGSIDE HUNTABLE CRITTERS. IF CONGRESS PASSES AND THE PRESIDENT SIGNS THE RECOVERING AMERICA’S WILDLIFE ACT, AN ESTIMATED $24 MILLION NEW FEDERAL DOLLARS WOULD FLOW TOWARDS WDFW TO MANAGE NONGAME SPECIES, FUNDING FOR WHICH IS SORELY LACKING. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Without investing in proactive wildlife conservation, scientists estimate that one-third of wildlife species in the United States are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered.  The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, reintroduced by Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) in July of this year, is a solution to this critical problem.

The bill will dedicate $1.3 billion annually to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement their science-based wildlife action plans and an additional $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers to conserve fish and wildlife on tribal lands and waters. This will provide dedicated funding, so state and tribal wildlife managers can proactively conserve fish and wildlife species of greatest conservation need in a voluntary, non-regulatory manner before federal listing under the Endangered Species Act is warranted. All of this can be done without additional taxes.

“The Association greatly appreciates Chairman Huffman’s leadership in bringing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act to the attention of the Subcommittee,” stated Kelly Hepler, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. “This hearing is an important opportunity to advance H.R. 3742 and create a modern funding mechanism to conserve more than one-third of our nation’s at-risk fish and wildlife in a manner that is preventative and saves taxpayers money by investing for the next generation in conservation before more costly regulatory approaches are needed.”

In advance of the Subcommittee hearing, the Association, along with members of a broad and diverse national coalition sent a letter to Members of Congress urging swift passage of H.R. 3742.

Not since enactment of the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson acts, that provided critical funding for fish and wildlife on the brink of extinction, have we had an opportunity to pass legislation of such importance to protecting what is every American’s birthright—our great natural heritage. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the most important conservation legislation in a generation.

ODFW Excited With State, Federal Pushes For Conservation Funding

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Two bills—one signed by the Governor earlier this month (HB 2829), and one recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (HR 3742)—offer the most significant opportunities to fund fish and wildlife conservation in a century.

ODFW IMAGES SHOW SOME OF THE SPECIES THAT WOULD BENEFIT FROM IMPROVED MANAGEMENT FUNDING THROUGH A RECENTLY SIGNED STATE BILL AND ONE INTRODUCED AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL. (ODFW)

This year, the 2019 Oregon State Legislature passed HB 2829 to create the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund to conserve and manage Oregon’s fish, wildlife, and their habitats. The bill puts $1 million in General Fund aside, to be matched by $1 million in private funds raised by ODFW, as seed money towards an alternative, sustainable funding source. It also creates an Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee to recommend how to spend monies from the Fund.

The 2019 bill was based on the recommendations of a Task Force created by the 2015 Oregon State Legislature that explored alternative funding for fish, wildlife and outdoor recreation. Among other uses, the new Fund will be used to implement the Oregon Conservation Strategy, a blueprint for conservation in Oregon that supports voluntary actions to conserve species and their vital habitats before they become more rare and costly to protect.

“In 2016, the Task Force for funding for Fish, Wildlife and Related Outdoor Recreation and Education conducted a survey of Oregonians. It was clear from the survey that Oregonians strongly value our state’s fish and wildlife, including many people who don’t hunt and fish. Yet the majority of the funding for ODFW’s programs are funded by hunters and anglers,” said Mark Labhart, Chair of the Task Force. “The Legislature agreed and HB 2829 gets us started and well on the way to implementing the Oregon Conservation Strategy.”

“The Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund will help ensure that future generations of Oregonians can continue to enjoy the incredible natural landscapes that are so central to our way of life,” said Representative Ken Helm (D-Washington County), who was one of the sponsors of HB 2829.

Another significant funding source on the horizon is the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 3742), introduced on July 12 by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Rep. Fortenberry (R-NE) and currently supported by 70 Members of Congress including Oregon Representatives Bonamici, Blumenauer, DeFazio, and Schrader. The bill would dedicate approximately $1.3 billion annually to state fish and wildlife agencies and an additional $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers to implement science-based wildlife action plans like the Oregon Conservation Strategy, with funding coming from the general treasury.

Apportionment of these dollars to the states would be based on population and land mass. ODFW estimates $23 million per year could be provided to implement the Oregon Conservation Strategy and connect more Oregonians to the outdoors. This would represent an estimated 12 percent boost to ODFW’s current budget.

In Oregon, these funds could immediately be used to support targeted investment in conservation activities that support endangered species recovery, like what Oregon did to help recover the Oregon chub. Funds could also be used to build a program to engage communities across the state in collecting observations of Oregon’s species where data is lacking, such as western pond turtle. It could also provide funds to ODFW’s conservation partners for voluntary habitat restoration across the state. Some of the species that would benefit from these funds include red abalone, nearshore rockfish species, Oregon spotted frog, trumpeter swan, Townsend’s big-eared bat and white sturgeon among many others.

“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would allow us to fully implement the Oregon Conservation Strategy and truly begin to address species conservation proactively instead of the reactive, emergency approach of the Endangered Species Act,” said ODFW Director Curt Melcher. “From my perspective, passing this bill could be the most significant moment in fish and wildlife conservation in the United States this century.”

As with all federal grants, some state match of federal funds would be required (HR 3742 requires a 25 percent match from state funds). Funds from the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund could be used to leverage these potential new funds from the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

More about fish and wildlife conservation funding

It was nearly 100 years ago that the Wildlife Restoration Act (aka Pittman-Robertson) and the later Sport Fish Restoration Act (aka Dingell-Johnson) were passed by federal lawmakers. These laws permanently dedicated excise taxes from the sale of hunting and fishing equipment to the states to support fish and wildlife conservation. They are credited with helping restore elk, cougar, bighorn sheep, salmon, steelhead and interior redband trout, among other species in Oregon. Funds from these excise taxes also helped purchase and maintain nearly 200,000 acres of land managed exclusively for wildlife habitat and recreation in Oregon (state Wildlife Areas such as Summer Lake and Sauvie Island).

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife receives very little state General Fund (less than 10 percent) or federal tax dollars, instead relying on hunting and license dollars, excise tax dollars, and other grants to fund the majority of the work. This funding model cannot keep up with the challenges facing Oregon’s fish and wildlife from human population growth, development, drought, climate change and ocean acidification. Funds from Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson are also focused on species that can be hunted or fished for and limited in the types of conservation work they can cover. This leaves many of Oregon’s species of greatest conservation need without a dedicated funding source.

Oregon and other states across the country have participated in a multi-year effort to diversify the way they fund conservation in the United States. Their goal is to expand conservation efforts to proactively address the 21st century challenges that affect the diverse fish, wildlife, and habitats of the nation and connect more people with nature and the outdoors.

For more information, visit https://www.nwf.org/Our-Work/Wildlife-Conservation/Policy/Recovering-Americas-Wildlife-Act

Bipartisan US Senate Fish-Wildlife Funding Bill Introduction Applauded

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA’S FISH & WILDLIFE

The Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife is excited to see introduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S.3223) in the United States Senate today. Senators James Risch (R-ID) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) along with their colleagues Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced bipartisan legislation that recommends funding for conservation of those fish and wildlife species in greatest need across the country.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

S.3223 recommends that Congress authorize $1.3 billion annually from energy development on federal lands and waters to the existing Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program to conserve the full array of fish and wildlife. This solution, proposed initially by leaders of the energy, outdoor recreation retail, manufacturing, and automotive sectors and well as sportsmen’s/women’s and other conservation groups is complementary to existing natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation programs and will not require taxpayers or businesses to pay more, but instead allows all Americans to become investors in fish and wildlife conservation.

The Senate bill complements the House version (H.R. 4647), introduced in December 2017 by Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-1) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), which has gained strong, bipartisan co-sponsorship due to its innovative approach to solving America’s wildlife crisis, with the current list of co-sponsors growing to over 75 members.

“This legislation puts states back in control of conservation efforts and affords them greater flexibility to meet their state-specific needs, while also protecting the legacy of hunting and the value the industry brings to wildlife conservation,” said Senator Risch, Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus. “Additionally, by engaging in these proactive, voluntary conservation actions, we will save millions of tax dollars that are otherwise spent on restoring threatened and endangered species.”

“In West Virginia hunting, fishing and outdoor activities are family traditions deeply ingrained in who we are as a state. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will ensure we continue to promote our state’s unique wildlife and preserve our rich outdoor traditions. That’s why I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to make West Virginia ever more wild and wonderful,” Senator Manchin said.

“Our nation’s fish and wildlife are the foundation of our natural heritage, held in the public trust for all to enjoy, and cared for by the state fish and wildlife agencies. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would help all species — including many that are hunted and fished and those that are not— continue to thrive,” stated Virgil Moore, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of Idaho Fish and Game. “We applaud Senator Risch from my home state of Idaho and Senator Manchin of West Virginia for their leadership on this important legislation that will help management and conservation of fish and wildlife, and bolster our great outdoor recreation economy.”

“The Blue Ribbon Panel recommended a proactive approach to conservation funding,” said Greg Hill, President and Chief Operating Officer, Hess Corporation. “The funding model that forms the basis for this legislation is better for taxpayers and businesses and, most importantly, better for the long-term conservation of fish and wildlife species in danger.”

“We applaud the Senate Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus leaders Senators Risch, Manchin, and Heitkamp, as well as Caucus Member Senator Alexander for introducing this important piece of legislation,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “America’s hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and boaters have been the primary funders of state-based conservation efforts to this day. This legislation will complement the contributions of sportsmen and women to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations for future generations to enjoy.”

“America’s wildlife are in crisis—more than one third of all species are vulnerable or at risk. We’re grateful to Senators Risch and Manchin for introducing a bill that demonstrates that the best way to save America’s 12,000 at-risk species is through collaborative, proactive, on-the-ground conservation efforts,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “This bill is an important step in the right direction and we look forward to working with the Senate to strengthen it further by adding the dedicated funding necessary to save the full diversity of wildlife species through collaborative conservation, just as the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 (Pittman-Robertson) helped fuel the recovery of wildlife from pronghorn, elk, and bighorn sheep to waterfowl and ducks.”

“Outdoor Industry Association fully supports the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) which aims to bolster fish and wildlife habitat conservation,” said Amy Roberts, Executive Director for the Outdoor Industry Association. “We urge the Senate to approve the Act and applaud the hard work and leadership by Senators Risch (R-ID), Manchin (D-WV), Alexander (R-TN), and Heitkamp (D-ND) to sponsor and push it, as we could soon have a more proactive model for conservation of our nation’s fish and wildlife.”