TWS highlights legislative priorities for senators

By Laura Bies

Eighteen states identified the tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) as a species of greatest conservation need in their 2015 revision of their State Wildlife Action Plans. ©USFWS

The Wildlife Society joined nearly three dozen other organizations — all members of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners — to send a letter to the leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee supporting science-based conservation.

The letter thanked the senators for their efforts to address our nation’s most urgent conservation needs — recovering imperiled wildlife species, repairing public lands infrastructure, and expanding outdoor recreational opportunities — and highlighted five pieces of legislation that the coalition supports to address these issues.

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 3742) was highlighted as the first priority in the letter.  This bill would provide $1.4 billion in dedicated annual funding to state and tribal fish and wildlife agencies to work on at-risk species conservation.

“Passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a high priority for The Wildlife Society and the wildlife profession. We are excited to work alongside our partners to encourage members of Congress to support this legislation and are looking forward to its eventual passage,” said Caroline Murphy, AWB, government relations manager at The Wildlife Society.

Also supported in this letter is the Restore Our Parks (and Public Lands) Act (S.500, H.R. 1225), which would dedicate revenues from energy development on public land over the next 5 years into a maintenance fund for national parks. The coalition letter recommends that the maintenance backlog on all of our public lands be addressed simultaneously by directing a small portion of the funding to maintain infrastructure at National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges and Bureau of Land Management lands.

Two pieces of legislation supported by the letter would provide additional funding for conservation. The Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act (S. 1081, H.R. 3195) would provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at its current authorized annual level of $900 million annually. The North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act would reauthorize and increase funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

Finally, the Modernizing the Pittman Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act (S.2092, H.R. 877) would allow state wildlife agencies to use certain funds allocated through the Wildlife Restoration Account to build and maintain shooting ranges, and for marketing and communications efforts to recruit, retain and reactive hunters and recreational shooters.

The 116th Congress reconvened Monday, after its summer recess.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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