Recovering America’s Wildlife Act:
A 21st Century Model of Wildlife Conservation Funding

State agency wildlife professionals and their partners work tirelessly on the conservation and management of wildlife populations within their state boundaries. A bill that would match the hard work of state wildlife employees with adequate financial support will soon be reintroduced in Congress.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, last introduced by Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska) in late 2017, would provide $1.3 billion in dedicated annual funding to state fish and wildlife agencies. This funding would be targeted at the conservation and monitoring state-identified at-risk species, known as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). The dedicated funds would come from revenue generated by energy and mineral extraction royalties currently collected by the federal government at about $5 billion to $12 billion annually.

What’s at stake

Since 2000, state fish and wildlife agencies have pulled from a much smaller funding stream known as the State Wildlife Grants program. This program is vulnerable to the whims of Congressional appropriators each year, and it is typically only funded at about $50 million to $60 million annually. Such limited funding only provides state agencies with the ability to address a few of the SGCN-related projects deemed necessary within their conservation action blueprints, known as State Wildlife Action Plans. For example, in fiscal year 2017, wildlife professionals with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation had just $2.3 million to work with in order to conserve more than 350 at-risk species.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act aims to drastically change this dynamic. This legislation would:

  • Implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources to address the financial needs faced by state fish and wildlife agencies and to keep species from facing costlier emergency conservation measures down the road.
  • Provide the $1.3 billion in royalty funds for state fish and wildlife agencies’ wildlife action plans.
  • Leverage funds from state agencies and partner organizations to provide 25 percent non-federal matching funds.
  • Provide greater regulatory certainty for oil and gas companies and other industries by conserving species and avoiding the need to list them under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Empower wildlife professionals to hold the nation’s wildlife in the public trust for generations to come by providing state agencies with the flexibility to conserve populations in an effective and cost-effective manner.

Stay tuned for additional updates to on TWS’ engagement on the pending reintroduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. You can also reach out to the Conservation Affairs Network committee in your area to learn how TWS organization units have worked to support this legislation.

See below for our relevant coverage:

“Texas student chapters engage on RAWA” Posted 12/28/2018
“TWS advises Senate committee considering wildlife funding” Posted 11/20/2018
“Recovering America’s Wildlife Act reaches 100 co-sponsors” Posted 10/1/2018
“Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Introduced in Senate” Posted 7/18/2018
“TWS co-hosts briefing to promote conservation” Posted on 06/28/2018
“America’s declining wildlife requires a proactive solution, report says” Posted on 03/29/2018
Combined efforts raise support for Recovering America’s Wildlife Act” Posted on 03/23/2018
“TWS submits testimony on two wildlife funding bills” Posted on 02/22/2018
“Recovering America’s Wildlife Act legislation reintroduced” Posted on 12/15/2017
“TWS Conservation Affairs Network reports on leading policy issues” Posted on 10/21/2016
“$1.3 Billion wildlife funding bill introduced in House of Representatives” Posted on 07/11/2016