Wildlife in the United States is at risk. Government agencies for fish and wildlife have collectively identified more than 12,000 species of mammals, birds, fish and insects, which you probably have never heard of because they need proactive conservation measures.
If passed, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) will provide the funding needed for such efforts.
Restoring America’s Wildlife Act is a two-pronged piece of legislation. It was originally drafted a few years ago, but was reintroduced in July 2021 by Senators Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, and Missouri Republican Roy Blunt. It currently has 32 bipartisan co-sponsors. The United States Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) voted to submit the legislation to the Senate for final approval.
The summary of the bill, which formally bears the title S.2372, reads as follows:
“This bill provides funding for (1) the conservation or restoration of wildlife and plant species with the greatest need for conservation; (2) the conservation strategies of states, territories or the District of Columbia; and (3) conservation education and recreation projects. The Ministry of the Interior must use part of the funding for a subsidy program. The grants are to be used for innovative recovery efforts for species in greatest conservation need, species listed as endangered or threatened, or the habitats of such species. In addition, the bill requires certain revenues generated from fees and fines for violations of environmental requirements to be used as a source of funding.
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) serves as the collective voice of state, provincial and territorial fish and wildlife agencies. The organization issued a press release acknowledging the progress of the law and their support for its final passage.
In the release, Blunt said, “Protecting habitats and wildlife isn’t just important to states like Missouri — which has some of the best hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation in the country — it’s important to communities across the country.” By encouraging states, territories and tribes to make significant contributions to voluntary conservation efforts, we can preserve our nation’s wildlife for generations to come. I appreciate the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies for being a strong advocate for this effort, and I look forward to their continued partnership as Senator Heinrich and I continue to work to get this groundbreaking legislation to the President’s Office.”
Senator Heinrich is from Missouri and is an experienced big game hunter. He’s also the only federal legislator I’ve shared a meal with at home. While visiting the New Mexico senator, he personally made a dish of spicy bull caribou stew that he brought back to Alaska for me and my friend Jesse Duebel.
I know his passion for wildlife is authentic, and it’s comforting to know that we have elected officials like Heinrich serving the interests of those who love wildlife and wild places.
“The outdoors has once again proven to be a true unifying force. I am so proud of the bipartisan leadership and broad support that is driving the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act forward. Senator Blunt has been a great partner, and EPW Chairman Tom Carper and Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito have helped us move this landmark conservation legislation forward. I am confident that if we can maintain our momentum, we will pass this bill with broad, bipartisan support through the entire Senate,” said Heinrich, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The significance of this bill is monumental. Without a serious influx of funding for critical habitat work, we will continue to see species becoming extinct. Considering the loss of a single species forever, I think it’s fair to say it’s an invaluable price. How do you put a financial value on the loss of the passenger pigeon or ghost shiner?
“This Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the most exciting conservation law in a generation,” said Ron Regan, executive director of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “This legislation will benefit wildlife, outdoor recreation and our overall quality of life, leaving a lasting legacy for all Americans.”
Heinrich speaks from a deep love for wildlife. His house is decorated with mementos from previous hunting parties. When he talks about conservation, he does it like a talker. The fact that he, and one of Washington’s top statesmen in Senator Blunt, is leading the effort to pass RAWA gives me great optimism that we will see this legislation passed.
Heinrich continues, “Without adequate resources, state and tribal wildlife organizations are forced to choose which species are worthy of saving. Rather than doing the proactive work necessary to maintain healthy wildlife populations, are forced to take reactive measures to save species after they are identified as endangered or threatened. We urgently need to change this paradigm and save thousands of species with a solution that fits the scale of the challenge. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act offers us a constructive way forward. By enacting RAWA into law, our grandchildren will be able to experience the same rich and abundant American wildlife — from bumblebees to bison — that we were so lucky to grow up with.”
See you on the trail.
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