House Committee Passes Two Top Priority Conservation Bills

On December 5, the House Natural Resources Committee voted to pass the Recovering America's Wildlife Act and the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow's Needs Act on a strong bipartisan vote, two top priority pieces of legislation for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).

Since the beginning of this Congress, CSF has worked to help introduce and advance these top priority pieces of legislation that, if enacted, would have a profound impact on our nation’s conservation programs. Prior to each bills’ respective hearing earlier this year, CSF submitted a statement for the record expressing strong support for H.R. 3742 and H.R. 877. CSF also sent numerous alerts to CSC Members encouraging them to support these bills and played a leading role in developing a letter from the America Wildlife Conservation Partners in support of H.R. 3742 and H.R. 877.

H.R. 3742, the Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA) of 2019 was introduced by Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC) Vice-Chair Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI) and would provide additional funding to state fish and wildlife agencies for on-the-ground, proactive conservation. If signed into law, the bill will allocate $1.4 billion annually for state agencies and tribal nations to conserve nearly 12,000 fish and wildlife species that are in the greatest need of conservation efforts. This bill is a top conservation priority for the sportsmen's community as it will give states much needed financial resources to address conservation challenges identified in State Wildlife Action Plans.

"America's hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and boaters have been the primary funders of state-based conservation efforts to this day, however, there is an increasing need to provide additional funding to state agencies to address the nearly 12,000 species that are falling through the cracks," said Jeff Crane, CSF President. “We applaud CSC Vice-Chair Rep. Dingell for recognizing this increasing need by introducing and working tirelessly to advance H.R. 3742."

This funding would complement the American System of Conservation Funding - a program funded by sportsmen and women through excise taxes on sporting equipment and license purchases under the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts, which currently provides the majority of funding for state fish and wildlife agencies. CSF continues to work with Members of the CSC to advance Recovering America's Wildlife, which now has the support of nearly 160 bipartisan cosponsors.

Correspondingly, the Committee also voted to pass the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow's Needs Act (H.R. 877), an important bill for the future of wildlife conservation funding, which was introduced by CSC Co-Chair Rep. Austin Scott (GA).  

The Pittman-Robertson Act redirects existing excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to state wildlife agencies for wildlife management, species and habitat conservation, scientific research, population monitoring, hunter education, and hunting and target shooting access. Through these excise taxes and associated purchases of hunting licenses, archery enthusiasts, hunters, and recreational shooters are the nation’s primary funders of wildlife conservation. Unfortunately, this “user-pays public-benefits” system of conservation funding that benefits all citizens is in jeopardy. Passage of H.R. 877 would provide state agencies the flexibility to modernize the way they recruit, retain and reactivate hunters, recreational shooters, and archery enthusiasts to ensure a prosperous future of this critical conservation funding program.

"We thank CSC Co-Chair Rep. Scott for leading and working over the last two Congresses to advance this bill. Providing more flexibility to state agencies to use money generated by sportsmen and women for recruitment and retention of hunters and recreational shooters is an important step to ensure the future of state-based conservation funding," said Crane.

Both bills now await further action in the House of Representatives.

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