On October 17, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act, two bills of interest to the sportsmen’s community. CSF has played a leadership role driving H.R. 3742, but expresses concerns for the sportsmen’s community that are outlined in H.R. 2795.
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 species research, management and conservation. If signed into law, the bill will allocate $1.4 billion annually for state agencies and tribal nations to conserve 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 needed to address conservation challenges associated with game and non-game species identified in State Wildlife Action Plans. Sportsmen and women have been the largest contributors to fish and wildlife conservation in the United States for over 80 years, however, a new 21st Century funding source is necessary to compliment, not replace, the financial contributions of sportsmen and women to strengthen state agencies’ capacity to conserve all species.
“The longer we wait to address this issue, the more resources we will ultimately need to safeguard our nation’s wildlife and environment,” said Debbie Dingell. “The broad group of stakeholders supporting the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act underscores the need for action and support for this approach. It is a diverse bipartisan group leading conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups, and businesses of all sorts support the legislation for good reason. It utilizes proven funding mechanisms, fully addresses pressing conservation needs, and prevents the need for more costly interventions in the future.”
“America’s hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and boaters have been the primary funders of state-based conservation efforts to this day. H.R. 3742 will complement the contributions of sportsmen and women to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations for future generations to enjoy,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. CSF continues to work with Members of the CSC to advance Recovering America’s Wildlife, which now has the support of approximately 130 bipartisan cosponsors.
H.R. 2795, the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2019, proposes establishment of a National Wildlife Corridors System to fund migration corridor conservation efforts that allow fish and wildlife species to transition from one type of habitat to another. CSF opposes this legislation due to concerns that the process outlined in the bill could unnecessarily add layers of bureaucracy to existing, cooperative migration corridor conservation efforts. In addition, CSF believes that state fish and wildlife agencies as the primary managers of our nation’s wildlife species, should lead efforts to identify and define migration corridors consistent with the unique needs of each respective state. Finally, unclear language in the bill appears to equate regulated trapping with poaching and the illegal take of wildlife. While CSF appreciates the Committee’s willingness to consider legislation intended to meet the needs of migratory fish and wildlife species, CSF cannot support H.R. 2795 in its current form due to these concerns.
CSF submitted a statement for the record expressing strong support for H.R. 3742 and opposition to H.R. 2795. Both of these bills await a markup in the House Natural Resources Committee. CSF will continue to work with members of the CSC to advance H.R. 3742 and address concerns with H.R. 2975 as these pieces of legislation could have a significant impact on America’s sportsmen and women.
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?