Gaithersburg, MD – The Izaak Walton League of America commends the House of Representatives for passing the Moving Forward Act to improve transportation and infrastructure across the nation while also smartly investing in restoration of our natural resources. Included as an amendment in the final package passed on the House floor, the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 3742) addresses longstanding funding shortfalls for wildlife conservation in all 50 states.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) would provide $1.4 billion per year for state wildlife conservation efforts. RAWA would also direct an additional $97.5 million to tribal wildlife managers to conserve species on tribal lands and waters. The funds would come from existing revenues and would set up competitive grants requiring matching funds from state wildlife agencies to implement their wildlife action plans.
“America needs to creatively address how we fund wildlife conservation. What has worked in the past needs to be supplemented with new resources so that wildlife agencies have the tools they need to respond to threats that are putting a third of our native fish, wildlife and plant species in danger of extinction,” says Jared Mott, Conservation Director for the League. “This bill directs funding to critical habitat restoration needed to reverse these trends. The League is thankful to the House of Representatives for addressing these critical needs, and we are especially grateful to Representatives Debbie Dingell of Michigan and Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska for their tireless championing of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.”
State fish and wildlife agencies have jurisdiction over most of the wildlife in America. However, the current funding model for wildlife conservation and management relies on hunting and fishing license sales, as well as excise taxes collected on the sale of equipment for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation. As some of these traditional sources of funding decline, a new revenue model is needed to address serious threats that imperil fish and wildlife nationwide:
- State agencies have identified about 12,000 species in need of proactive conservation efforts; 33 percent of all U.S. species are at risk of becoming endangered.
- Current funding to implement state wildlife action plans is less than five percent of what experts say is needed to conserve the species most at risk.
- Eighty percent of state wildlife agency funding comes from hunters and anglers via license sales and excise taxes on their equipment. However, all species, not just those that are pursued by hunters and anglers, must be managed with this revenue, which is declining as license sales go down.
- RAWA would fully fund State Wildlife Action Plans – proactive, comprehensive conservation strategies developed by state wildlife agencies to examine species health and recommend actions to conserve wildlife and vital habitat before they become rarer and more costly to protect.
- RAWA ensures a modern solution to how we finance fish and wildlife conservation. This new funding model primarily draws from fees and royalties paid to develop energy on public lands, both on- and off-shore. It would provide states and tribes with the dedicated and consistent resources needed to implement plans that are designed to conserve all species of fish and wildlife.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding economic crisis, America will need a recovery plan that puts people back to work quickly and protects our valuable natural resources. We can create millions of jobs restoring natural resources and bolstering community resilience by investing in conservation and outdoor recreation. The $1.4 billion annual investment from the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would lead to an additional $3.36 billion of economic output. That’s a net positive gain of $1.96 billion to the gross domestic product.
The League looks forward to advancing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act in the Senate with the same partnership and bipartisan spirit that carried the bill through the House of Representatives.
Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League of America protects America’s outdoors through education, community-based conservation, and promoting outdoor recreation.