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Congresswoman Debbie Dingell

Representing the 12th District of Michigan

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Dingell, Fortenberry Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Enhance Funding for Fish and Wildlife

December 15, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01) introduced H.R. 4647, the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, to help promote and enhance our nation’s conservation efforts and ensure the long-term health of fish and wildlife throughout the country. The legislation, based on a recommendation from a panel of conservation and business leaders, would dedicate $1.3 billion annually in existing revenue from oil and gas royalties to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program. The funding would provide states with new critically needed financial resources to effectively implement State Wildlife Action Plans to conserve 12,000 species in greatest need of conservation while providing the public with more access to open spaces.

“It has been proven over the decades that incredible gains in species conservation have been made with dedicated sources of funding,” Rep. Dingell said. “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act builds off the successes of previous efforts including Pittman-Robertson, Dingell-Johnson, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund by giving state fish and wildlife agencies additional resources they need to proactively manage at-risk wildlife species. As we work to realize the full promise of these cornerstone programs, I am proud to introduce this legislation to further that commitment with my Republican colleague from Nebraska, Mr. Fortenberry. We both love the outdoors and know we must work hard to protect our natural resources. Together we believe we can get something done that will help bring conservation into the 21st Century and complement the other successful programs that are currently in place.”

“This is a very important and creative legislative initiative to enhance wildlife ecosystems across our nation through constructive partnerships in states,” said Rep. Fortenberry.

“Each of us, as citizens of this country, has the responsibility to ensure diverse fish and wildlife resources are managed for future generations. Fish and wildlife need healthy habitats to thrive—enhancing our lives and providing many other benefits,” stated Johnny Morris, Founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops. “State fish and wildlife agencies have a solid track record of accomplishing remarkable recovery and restoration successes since the early 1900s. However, enhanced funding is now needed to address today’s fish and wildlife habitat management challenges.”

“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,” stated Virgil Moore, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of Idaho Fish and Game. “Today we find ourselves at a critical crossroads and face a challenge that could alter our children’s and grandchildren’s opportunities to enjoy these resources. By investing in our State Wildlife Action Plans, which serve as a blueprint for restoring and managing the most sensitive imperiled species within our state’s borders, we will be ensuring future generations can enjoy our rich wildlife heritage.”

“America's hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and boaters have been the primary funders of state-based conservation efforts to this day,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “This recommendation simply directs funding for conservation from other sectors that use our natural resources.”

“We thank Representatives Fortenberry and Dingell for introducing the historic Recovering America’s Wildlife Act,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “This bill will help 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 and need expensive ‘emergency room’ measures to recover. When this bill becomes law, we will increase wildlife populations, strengthen America’s economy, and reduce the need for regulatory measures.”

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, a group of national business and conservation leaders co-chaired by Bass Pro Shops founder John L. Morris and former Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal, convened in 2015 to recommend a new mechanism to sustainably fund fish and wildlife conservation. In March 2016, the Panel recommended that a $1.3 billion trust fund be created using existing fees from energy and mineral development on federal lands and water to support implementation of State Wildlife Action Plans in every state, territory and the District of Columbia. 

Without a change in the way we finance fish and wildlife conservation, the list of federally threatened and endangered species is expected to grow from nearly 1,600 species today to thousands more in the future. The new dedicated funding created by the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is aimed at preventing wildlife from becoming endangered to ensure the long-term health of all fish and wildlife that provide countless hours of outdoor enjoyment for the nation’s citizens.