Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act introduced

Last week, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. and Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., introduced the Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act of 2019 (S. 2891/H.R. 5179), which would support federally designated American Indian tribes in identifying, establishing and protecting wildlife corridors on Tribal lands.

“Our planet currently faces a mass extinction crisis. Wildlife corridors, as effective tools for restoring native species populations, are the first step in addressing this crisis,” said Udall in a press release. “This legislation, developed in consultation with tribes, is designed to honor the federal trust responsibility to Indian tribes by supporting tribes’ work to coordinate wildlife management strategies with their federal partners across jurisdictional boundaries.”

The bill would implement recommendations from resolutions passed by both the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society and the Western Governors’ Association, calling for more support of tribal efforts in identifying, establishing and protecting wildlife migration corridors. It describes a process for tribes to identify wildlife corridors for official designation by the Secretary of the Interior. The Act also calls for the establishment of a grant program, which would provide funding to tribes for efforts that encourage native species movement.

The legislation also calls for increased cooperation between tribes and federal agencies, requiring the U.S. Forest Service to consider opportunities to link tribal wildlife corridors to Forest Service-managed lands and that the Department of the Interior conduct meaningful consultation with tribes administering a recognized Tribal Wildlife Corridor.

Sen. Udall previously introduced similar legislation, Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2019 (S. 1499/H.R. 2795), which would create a National Wildlife Corridor System on federal lands and waters.

Both bills have been referred to the authorizing committees in their respective chambers and are awaiting hearing.

Header Image: New legislation would support tribes in establishing wildlife corridors on their lands. ©CEBImagery