TWS endorses grasslands conservation effort

By Madison Chudzik

Sunset at Pawnee National Grassland in Northern Colorado. Credit: Ray Harrison

The Wildlife Society recently joined partners in endorsing the Northern American Grasslands Conservation Act (S.4639), legislation that would help conserve U.S. grassland ecosystems.

The bill would establish a North American grasslands conservation strategy for protecting and restoring threatened grassland and sagebrush ecosystems. A grant program would support the management efforts needed for this restoration by funding projects to improve and restore grasslands, support habitat connectivity and enhance biodiversity. The bill also focuses on addressing climate change and adaptation by funding nature-based solutions to sequester carbon and mitigate wildfire and drought threats.

“The facts are clear. Our native grasslands and the sagebrush steppe are two of the most threatened ecosystems in North America, and we need funding to support long overdue conservation efforts,” said Ed Arnett, CEO of The Wildlife Society. “Modeled after the highly successful North American Wetlands Conservation Act, this legislation will bring resources to support public and private partnerships to help conserve these imperiled habitats and the species that depend on them.”

Due in part to high levels of biodiversity, these lands are vital to agricultural and Tribal communities, providing numerous services and recreational opportunities across North America. Unfortunately, grassland ecosystems have dwindled to 30% of their historic range, and face continued degradation from wildfire and drought as well as commercial development, fragmentation and invasive species. Since 1966, more than 40% of grassland bird populations have been lost with certain species, such as the recently listed lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), facing increased extinction risk.

The Wildlife Society regularly engages in private land conservation, with a current focus on working for robust conservation programming in the drafting of the 2023 Farm Bill. The Wildlife Society will be engaging in support of this programming as we begin the 118th Congress in January.

Want to learn more about the North American Grasslands Conservation Act? Head to the Act for Grasslands action center to see how you can take action.


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