Sportsmen’s Caucus Members Introduce Bill for State-based Wildlife Conservation Funding

Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI) introduced H.R. 4647, the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. This bipartisan bill aims to meet the increasing need for proactive wildlife conservation funding for the full array of our nation’s fish and wildlife resources and the habitats on which they depend.

Specifically, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will annually redirect $1.3 billion in funding in existing revenue from royalties collected on onshore and offshore energy and mineral development on federal lands and waters to be used to provide proactive funding for state-based wildlife conservation.  

This legislation will not establish any new taxes at the expense of taxpayers or the businesses that are currently contributing anywhere from $5 billion to $12 billion in royalties from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act comes in response to the 2014 recommendations developed by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources (BRP), which was co-chaired by former Governor of Wyoming Dave Freudenthal, and John L. Morris of Bass Pro Shops. The efforts of the Blue Ribbon Panel are now represented in the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife, which was established with the purpose of creating a 21st century funding model for 12,000 at-risk species. The Alliance is supportive of investing these funds into conservation now before the species become rare and more costly to conserve.

Collectively, the members of the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife, which includes the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), represent a diverse campaign consisting of representatives from conservation and sportsmen’s organizations, outdoor recreational retail and manufacturing sectors, energy and automotive industries, private landowners, educational institutions, and state fish and wildlife agencies.

CSF President and Blue Ribbon Panel member Jeff Crane stated, "America's hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and boaters have been the primary funders of state-based conservation efforts to this day. This recommendation simply directs funding for state-based conservation from other sectors that use our natural resources.”

“This is an important and creative legislative initiative to protect ecosystems across our nation through constructive partnerships in states,” said Rep. Fortenberry. “The bill provides smart upstream policy to avoid triggering the ‘emergency room procedures’ of the Endangered Species Act. By effectively putting preventative measures in place, we can now better protect habitat and wildlife from becoming lost or endangered in the first place. This will benefit farmers, hunters, anglers, boaters, birders, hikers and other wildlife enthusiasts, as well as the burgeoning field of eco-tourism. The Recovering America's Wildlife Act will also prove to be a powerful new tool to connect resource extraction policy with prudent resource recovery.”

"It has been proven over the decades that incredible gains in species conservation have been made with dedicated sources of funding," Rep. Dingell said. "The Recovering America's Wildlife Act builds off the successes of previous efforts including Pittman-Robertson, Dingell-Johnson, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund by giving state fish and wildlife agencies additional resources they need to proactively manage at-risk wildlife species. As we work to realize the full promise of these cornerstone programs, I am proud to introduce this legislation to further that commitment with my Republican colleague from Nebraska, Mr. Fortenberry.  We both love the outdoors and know we must work hard to protect our natural resources.  Together we believe we can get something done that will help bring conservation into the 21st Century and complement the other successful programs that are currently in place."

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