THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
A major new piece of legislation, co-sponsored by Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio, was introduced in the House of Representatives today. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act of 2021 (RAWA) would provide vital new resources for the conservation of Oregon’s at-risk fish and wildlife species.
The legislation would dedicate $1.3 billion annually to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement congressionally mandated State Wildlife Action Plans, like the Oregon Conservation Strategy, and dedicate an additional $97.5 million for conservation led by Tribal fish and wildlife agencies.
ODFW estimates that $23 million per year would come to Oregon under the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. ODFW would use these new funds to implement the Oregon Conservation Strategy and connect more Oregonians to the outdoors. This would add an estimated 12 percent to ODFW’s current budget and greatly expand programs and partnerships that maintain healthy fish and wildlife populations by maintaining and restoring functioning habitats, preventing declines of at-risk species and reversing declines in these resources where possible.
“From my perspective, passing this bill would be the most significant moment in fish and wildlife conservation in the United States this century,” said Curt Melcher, Director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “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,” added Melcher.
State agencies will need to provide a 25 percent match in order to access funding from RAWA. Over 18,000 individuals have already donated more than $400,000 to the recently created Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund since the campaign launched in July 2020, which demonstrates that Oregonians are committed to supporting the Oregon Conservation Strategy and connecting Oregonians to outdoor opportunities.
“Oregon has a strong history of protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and the lands and waters that support them. This new funding opportunity sets the stage for addressing key conservation issues of the 21st century, especially the impacts of the changing climate and ocean on Oregon’s ecosystems,” said Mary Wahl, Chair of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Some of the species that would benefit from these funds include red abalone, nearshore rockfish, Oregon spotted frog, pygmy rabbit, trumpeter swan, Townsend’s big-eared bat and white sturgeon among many others.
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) with a bipartisan group of representatives, including House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), Rep. French Hill (R-AR), Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), and Rep. Jenniffer González Colón (R-PR).
A version of this legislation in the 116th Congress was co-sponsored by Oregon Representatives Bonamici, Blumenauer, DeFazio and Schrader.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
Sara Parker Pauley, president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and director of the Missouri Department of Conservation:
“This nation is blessed with abundant fish and wildlife resources that provide enjoyment as well as essential services to people and communities. Our state agencies have the primary responsibility of conserving our treasured natural resources and with this dedicated funding, states and our many partners will be able to make sure our fish and wildlife are healthy for years to come. This past year has really brought into focus the value of nature, outdoor recreation, our overall health, clean air and water and our economy. We must work together now to pass this legislation so that future generations will have these same opportunities and quality of life that we enjoy.”
Land Tawney, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers president and CEO:
“Last Congress, we were able to enact the Great American Outdoors Act and provide $900 million annually in permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Now we have the opportunity to complement this victory through the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which focuses on habitat enhancement through restoration, invasive species removal, research, watershed management, collaboration management of species across state lines, tribal lands and more.
“Today we are sending a message to state and tribal wildlife managers: Your work is critical to America’s fish and wildlife, and we are committed to providing you with the resources you need,” Tawney continued. “Representatives Dingell and Fortenberry and their allies in Congress deserve our heartfelt thanks for their tireless efforts on their behalf. We look forward to Senate members following suit and supporting the advancement of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.”
Collin O’Mara, National Wildlife Federation president and CEO:
“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. 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. Representatives Dingell and Fortenberry’s steadfast leadership on this bill is a shining example of how Congress can still find common ground on conservation even in these polarized times. We’re confident the bill will be signed into law by President Biden this year.”
Elveda Martinez, Native American Fish and Wildlife Society president:
“Tribes are our nation’s first people and first conservationists with many fish and wildlife species having biological and cultural importance. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is monumental legislation for Tribes to protect these species and our cultural ties to them along with promoting tribal self-governance. With the support of this legislation, the Tribes stand ready and committed to ensure that wildlife endures for all of our future generations.”
Mike Leonard, American Sportfishing Association Government Affairs Vice President:
“For generations, the sportfishing industry has taken a lead role in efforts to conserve our nation’s fish and wildlife resources by contributing to state-based conservation efforts through the Sport Fish Restoration program. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act presents an opportunity to compliment the vital contributions of America’s recreational fishing community by providing state agencies with additional funds to proactively manage non-game species and fund conservation efforts that benefit both game and non-game species alike. The American Sportfishing Association is proud to support legislation that will continue the vital efforts begun by America’s anglers and hunters to ensure our fish and wildlife resources are conserved for future generations.”
Jeff Crane, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation president:
“As legislative Co-Chair of the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife, I am grateful for the leadership of Representatives Dingell and Fortenberry. The reintroduction of Recovering America’s Wildlife Act represents one of the most significant investments in fish and wildlife conservation in the last two decades. This bipartisan legislation is crucial for ensuring an abundant and healthy future for our nation’s fish and wildlife.”