THE FOLLOWING ARE PRESS RELEASES FROM THE ASSOCIATION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE AGENCIES AND BACKCOUNTRY HUNTERS AND ANGLERS
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies strongly supports the introduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S.1149) in the U.S. Senate today. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced this bipartisan legislation that would provide critical funding to state fish and wildlife agencies and tribal fish and wildlife managers to effectively conserve our nation’s fish and wildlife for future generations. If passed, this bill will not only help the one-third of wildlife species in the United States currently at risk of becoming threatened or endangered, but also save taxpayer money by implementing proactive solutions to conserve those species in greatest need and prevent wildlife from becoming threatened or endangered.
“The need for the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is indisputable and the urgency never greater,” said Curt Melcher, Director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and President of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “This is common sense, collaborative conservation and it is widely supported by a growing and diverse national coalition. We applaud Senators Heinrich and Tillis for their leadership and perseverance and stand ready to assist them in passing this bill for our fish and wildlife and for future generations.”
This bipartisan legislation 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. There continues to be broad bipartisan political support for passage of this bill, and we know from extensive polling and public opinion research that the public support is there too.
“Over the past few years, the outdoors have proven to be a real uniting force in Congress. I’m proud of the momentum and widespread bipartisan support we built with Senator Blunt last Congress, and I look forward to doing the same with Senator Tillis as we work to move this bill across the finish line,” said Heinrich. “Without enough resources, state and Tribal wildlife agencies have been forced to pick and choose which species are worth saving. Instead of doing the proactive work that is necessary to maintain healthy wildlife populations on the front end, they have been forced into using reactive measures to rescue species after they are listed as threatened or endangered. We urgently need to change this paradigm and save thousands of species with a solution that matches the magnitude of the challenge. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act offers us a constructive path forward. Passing RAWA into law will mean our grandchildren will be able to experience the same rich and abundant American wildlife—from bumblebees to bison—that we have been so lucky to grow up with.”
“Congress has a long history of being champions of conservation efforts in the U.S. to protect our unmatched landscape and wildlife population. Today, we are facing another crisis with too many fish and wildlife being placed on the endangered species list, negatively impacting businesses, farmers, and landowners. This situation must be avoided at all costs, and RAWA gives state and tribal wildlife commissions the tools needed to perform proactive, on-the-ground conservation to prevent threatened species from becoming endangered. This is the first step in long road to build consensus, and I look forward to partnering with Senator Heinrich and my colleagues in Congress to work on this legislation so we can avoid those situations and keep more fish and wildlife off the endangered species list, saving tens of millions of dollars in compliance costs for Americans, and protect our country’s rich natural resources,” said Tillis.
“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a transformational bill that will give state fish and wildlife agencies the sustainable resources needed and will empower local stakeholders to work together with states to implement the wildlife action plans they’ve had in place for years,” said Ron Regan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “We know what needs to be done on the ground for wildlife—and it takes time and dedicated funding to achieve it, that is why this bill is so critically needed.”
These critical efforts are supported by the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife, whose purpose is to create a 21st-century funding model for critically needed conservation of our nation’s most precious natural resources, our fish and wildlife. The Alliance represents the national coalition united behind passing this game-changing legislation, consisting of partners representing the outdoor recreation, retail and manufacturing sector, the energy and automotive industries, private landowners, tribal nations, educational institutions, sportsmen’s and other conservation organizations and state and federal fish and wildlife agencies.
********BACKCOUNTRY HUNTERS AND ANGLERS PRESS RELEASE********
Popular, bipartisan legislation to secure funding for state and Tribal efforts to conserve at-risk species was introduced in the U.S. Senate late yesterday by Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Thom Tillis (R-NC). The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S. 1149), or RAWA, would make nearly $1.4 billion in annual funding available to state and Tribal wildlife management agencies, supporting critical conservation work, enhancing fish and wildlife habitat and boosting America’s outdoor recreation economy.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members have been vocal proponents of the need for targeted investments in species recovery. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the product of decades of hard work and dedicated collaboration a range of diverse stakeholders, including sportsmen and women, conservationists and business leaders.
BHA President and CEO Land Tawney underscored RAWA’s importance for sustaining wildlife populations – and stressed that the time for the bill’s passage had arrived.
“The Recovering America’s Wildlife 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,” said Tawney. “It’s a valuable investment, and it’s the right thing to do for our diverse ecosystems all across North America.”
In the 117th Congress, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) led the effort to advance RAWA in the House of Representatives with 152 Democratic cosponsors and 42 Republican cosponsors. On June 14, 2022, RAWA was passed on the House floor with a bipartisan vote of 231-190. RAWA was reported by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee with bipartisan vote of 15-5 on April 7, 2022. It was included in negotiations until the last minute for the must-pass Omnibus Appropriations bill last December.
In the 118th Congress, lawmakers continue to work on a pay-for source to offset the cost of the legislation, a critical hurdle to its receiving a final vote. Discussions regarding a House companion are also ongoing but include conversations with Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR).
Tawney stated, “Quite frankly, we should have got this done back in 2022. Together we were able to achieve RAWA’s passage through the House, in bipartisan fashion, and we had the votes to do the same thing in the Senate. It didn’t happen then, but now it’s back – and we are calling on leadership 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 pintails in Kansas and many others. While not all at-risk species are game species, they share the same habitat with critical game animals like mallards, mule deer, pronghorn and wild trout. Improving habitat for one species benefits all of them, including wild game.
The bill’s introduction in the 118th Congress resulted from hard work by a broad coalition of stakeholders, the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife. Comprised of outdoor industry leaders, state and Tribal fish and wildlife agency officials, conservation groups, business interests, and hunters and anglers, the coalition is committed to achieving comprehensive conservation funding legislation in the United States.