On March 14, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI) joined colleagues as well as representatives from the fish and wildlife conservation community including state fish and wildlife agency representatives, and oil and gas industries at a Capitol Hill Breakfast Briefing hosted by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) to discuss an important bill, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 4647). The Briefing was sponsored by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) and National Wildlife Federation (NWF).
Introduced on December 14, 2017, this bill aims to meet the increasing need for proactive wildlife conservation funding for the full array of our nation’s fish and wildlife and the habitats they depend on. H.R. 4647 directs $1.3 billion of existing revenue from royalties on onshore energy and mineral development on federal lands and waters to be used to provide funding for state-based wildlife conservation.
“America’s hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and boaters have been the primary funders of state-based conservation efforts to this day. This legislation simply redirects funding for state-based conservation from other sectors that also use our natural resources,” said CSF President Jeff Crane.
“In Michigan, enjoying the outdoors is not only a way of life, it is critical to supporting jobs and the outdoor recreation economy across the state,” said Dingell. “At a time when one-third of all wildlife species are at risk of extinction, we all need to work together to proactively protect wildlife and habitat. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act provides states critically-needed resources to proactively conserve at-risk species before they land on the endangered species list, where recovery is ultimately more costly and restrictive We are glad to have support from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and a broad coalition of organizations nationwide working to pass this important bill and protect wildlife for future generations to enjoy,” said Rep. Dingell.
“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. I’m pleased that Debbie Dingell has chosen to also be a leader on this bill, so we can increase both Democrat and Republican cosponsors.”
In addition to the Breakfast Briefing this week, leaders from state fish and wildlife agencies, American Fisheries Society, Hess Corporation, National Audubon Society, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Wildlife Federation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and Wildlife Habitat Council met with several Members of Congress to discuss the importance of H.R. 4647 to conservation efforts across the country.
“Our nation’s fish and wildlife are among its most valuable resources, along with clean air, water, healthy forests and agricultural lands that support all of us. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would ensure all species — from the Atlantic sturgeon of North Carolina to the Wolverine of Idaho— continue to thrive,” stated Virgil Moore, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of Idaho Fish and Game. “We need to advance this important legislation to create a modern funding mechanism to conserve more than one-third of our nation’s at-risk fish and wildlife in a manner that is economically viable to both taxpayers and the regulated business community.”
“At a time when one-third of America’s fish and wildlife species are at risk, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to save thousands of species and ensure that future generations inherit the full diversity of our nation’s wildlife,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We thank Representatives Fortenberry and Dingell for introducing the historic Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. This bill will help recover thousands of wildlife species through proactive, collaborative, on-the-ground efforts. The approach is unique because it calls for early action to save struggling wildlife, rather than waiting until species are on the brink of extinction. When this bill becomes law, we will increase wildlife populations, strengthen America’s economy, and reduce the need for regulatory measures.”
On February 15, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to discuss H.R. 4647, which now awaits being scheduled for a markup.
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?