Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Summary

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would provide $1.3 billion to state wildlife agencies to fully implement their State Wildlife Action Plans to address critical fish and wildlife conservation needs. Apportioned funds will be leveraged using a 25% non-federal match to produce positive outcomes to proactively conserve fish, wildlife, and their associated habitats. Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will provide more certainty to landowners, sportsmen and women, outdoor recreation enthusiasts, retail businesses, and the energy and manufacturing industries and many other stakeholder groups.

Background

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Fish and Wildlife Resources (BRP), a group of top conservation leaders in the United States, co-chaired by former Wyoming Governor, David Freudenthal, and Bass Pro Shops founder John L. Morris, recommended that Congress introduce legislation that would solve the conservation funding issue for 12,000 identified species in the greatest conservation need, which is the basis for Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. The BRP brought together a broad coalition of sportsmen’s conservation organizations, outdoor recreational retail and manufacturing sectors, energy and automotive industries, private landowners, educational institutions, and state fish and wildlife agencies which is now represented by the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife. Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President (CSF) Jeff Crane is a member of the BRP, and CSF is currently a member of the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife.

Each state, territory, and the District of Columbia is mandated by Congress to develop comprehensive State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) to identify key conservation needs within each respective state. Currently, state agencies often receive less than 5% of the funds that are necessary to address the issues identified in their action plans. Collectively, SWAPs have identified nearly 12,000 species that are in the greatest need of conservation. Recovering America’s Wildlife will complement the American System of Conservation Funding, which is the financial contributions of hunters, anglers, target shooters, and boaters through excise taxes and related user fees, to ensure healthy populations of fish and wildlife for future generations to enjoy.

Without establishing any new taxes or fees, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would provide $1.3 billion in existing revenue from royalties collected from onshore and offshore oil, gas, and mineral leases to the existing, but currently unfunded, Wildlife Conservation Restoration subaccount within the Pittman-Robertson Act. Funds would be distributed to state wildlife agencies using a 50% land mass and 50% population formula to address the conservation needs that are identified in SWAPs. Passage of this legislation would strengthen state fish and wildlife agencies’ capacity to implement SWAPs to ensure the future of healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and their associated habitats.

Recent Activity

In the 115th Congress, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act was introduced in both the House and the Senate by members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC). The House bill, H.R. 4647, was introduced by CSC Members Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (NE) and Debbie Dingell (MI). The Senate bill, S. 3223, was introduced by CSC Members Senators Risch, Manchin, Alexander, and Heitkamp. Both the House and Senate bills had legislative hearings in their respective committees of jurisdiction, but unfortunately came up short in the last Congress. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and partners on the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife are currently working with champions in the 116th Congress to reintroduce these priority pieces of legislation.  

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