Crucial Wildlife Bill being considered by Congress

A wildlife bill supported by the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) is now before both houses of Congress. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) recommends crucial funding for conservation of those fish and wildlife species in greatest need across the country. 

The bill proposes that Congress authorize $1.3 billion annually from energy development and mineral extraction on federal lands and waters to the existing Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program to conserve the full array of fish and wildlife. This solution, proposed initially by leaders of the oil and gas industry, outdoor recreation retail, manufacturing, and automotive industries, as well as sportsmen’s/women’s and other conservation groups is complementary to existing natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation programs and will not require taxpayers or businesses to pay more, but instead allows all Americans to become investors in fish and wildlife conservation through fees already being collected. 

“This would be a game changer for wildlife management in Nevada,” said Tony Wasley, Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “The funding would allow us to more effectively implement our State Wildlife Action Plan, which serves as a blueprint for restoring and managing some of Nevada’s most important species.” 

RAWA has been widely endorsed in the Silver State with the Nevada Legislature passing a joint resolution in support of this during the last session (79th session: Senate Joint Resolution 13) and the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners passing a resolution in support of this effort in June of 2016. 

If this bill passes, it could mean as much as $35 million a year to fund certain aspects of law enforcement activities, conservation education, recreation, as well as the full implementation of the wildlife action plan and the 256 species and 22 key habitats the plan prioritizes in a proactive, non-regulatory manner. 

“Our nation’s fish and wildlife are the foundation of our natural heritage, held in the public trust for all to enjoy, and cared for by the state fish and wildlife agencies,” said Virgil Moore, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of Idaho Fish and Game. “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would help all species continue to thrive.” 

The Senate bill (S. 3223) complements the House version (H.R. 4647), introduced in December 2017, which has gained strong bipartisan co-sponsorship due to its innovative approach to solving America’s wildlife crisis, with the current list of co-sponsors growing to over 79 members, which includes 37 Republicans and 42 Democrats. 

It currently costs the American public hundreds of millions of dollars each year to restore threatened and endangered species; costs that could be avoided or greatly reduced if proactive conservation measures were implemented. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, supported by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the National Wildlife Federation, would provide the needed resources for proactive conservation nationwide. 

“America’s wildlife are in crisis—more than one third of all species are vulnerable or at risk. This bill demonstrates that the best way to save America’s 12,000 at-risk species is through collaborative, proactive, on-the-ground conservation efforts,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “This bill is an important step in the right direction and we look forward to working with the Senate to strengthen it further by adding the dedicated funding necessary to save the full diversity of wildlife species through collaborative conservation.”