Recovering America’s Wildlife Act introduced in Senate

The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S. 3223) was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday by Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, and cosponsored by Senators Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia; Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, and Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee.

The bill would provide up to $1.3 billion annually in appropriated funds for state fish and wildlife agencies to support the implementation of state wildlife action plans. SWAPs identify species at risk of becoming threatened or endangered, known as species of greatest conservation need, and detail proactive plans to reduce population declines in an effort to prevent the need to list them under the Endangered Species Act.

These appropriated funds would come from existing onshore and offshore energy and mineral production revenues already collected by the federal government at $5 billion to $12 billion annually. Unlike the House version (H.R. 4647) of this legislation introduced in December by Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, the Senate version would require Congressional approval on the amount of funding state agencies can receive each year.

By contrast, the House version would provide $1.3 billion in dedicated funding every year in order to provide state agencies with certainty in planning multiyear conservation efforts. The House version of the bill is based on the 2016 recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, which was composed of conservation, recreation and business leaders who determined dedicated funding was the most appropriate mechanism for keeping species off of the endangered species list.

In a statement released by TWS and the American Fisheries Society, John McDonald, president of TWS, states “we deeply appreciate the leadership Senators Risch, Manchin, Heitkamp and Alexander have displayed in support of conservation efforts by fisheries and wildlife professionals through advancing this bill. The Wildlife Society and American Fisheries Society look forward to working with Senate offices to advance language that will provide a path forward for financial and regulatory certainty at the state level.”

You can read more of the statement from TWS and the American Fisheries Society on today’s Senate introduction here.

Header Image: The cerulean warbler (Setophaga cerulea) has experienced a 74 percent population decrease in the past several decades and exemplifies the species decline that the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is designed to prevent. ©JanetandPhil