On July 12, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), a bill to fund state-based conservation efforts for more than 12,000 species of fish, wildlife, and plants, was introduced by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Vice-Chair Representative Debbie Dingell (MI) and CSC Member Representative Jeff Fortenberry (NE).
Additionally, Reps. Dingell and Fortenberry were joined by 60 bipartisan original co-sponsors.
“America’s sportsmen and women 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 12,000 species that are falling through the cracks,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane. “This strongly bipartisan legislation provides critical financial resources to state agencies, allowing them the opportunity to conduct on-the-ground projects, which benefit species that are in the greatest need of conservation efforts.”
Specifically, this bill would provide $1.3 billion annually for wildlife recovery efforts as outlined within each state/territory’s State Wildlife Action Plan, which collectively have identified nearly 12,000 species in the greatest need of conservation. 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.
“Bold solutions are needed to safeguard our nation’s wildlife from further decline,” said Rep. Dingell. “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act represents a strong commitment to addressing the current biodiversity crisis using innovative, state-based management that will safeguard our nation’s environmental heritage for current and future generations.”
“RAWA is a smart upstream policy that promotes continuity of habitats and helps prevent the costly downstream emergency room procedures of the Endangered Species Act,” said Rep. Fortenberry. “Through proactive, collaborative, and voluntary partnerships with states, RAWA enhances community recreational opportunity for birders, hikers, hunters, anglers and all who enjoy the beauty of nature.”
Prior to bill introduction on July 10, CSF hosted a widely-attended Capitol Hill Breakfast Briefing with partners, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). The goal was to generate support for this legislation, and included Membersof Congress and their staff, partners from the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife, and leaders from the sporting conservation community.
A press conference followed on July 12, where Reps. Dingell and Fortenberry were joined by the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife Legislative Co-Chairs CSF President Jeff Crane, NWF CEO Collin O’Mara, and Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and current President of AFWA Ed Carter.
RAWA comes from a recommendation by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, a group of conservation and business leaders including CSF President Jeff Crane. This bill awaits further action in the House Natural Resources Committee.
Left to right: AFWA President Ed Carter, CSF President Jeff Crane, Representative Debbie Dingell, Representative Jeff Fortenberry, and NWF CEO Collin O’Mara.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?