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House Adopts Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Bipartisan Bill Added as Amendment on the Floor to House Infrastructure Package

Washington, July 1, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House of Representatives adopted the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act as an amendment to the Moving Forward Act – which is currently being debated on the House Floor. 

Led by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), RAWA has broad support of conservation and sportsmen’s leaders. This bipartisan legislation would help promote and enhance our nation’s conservation efforts, and ensure the long-term health of fish and wildlife throughout the country.

RAWA is the most signification investment in wildlife and habitat conservation in a generation. The bill would dedicate roughly $1.4 billion to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program for proactive, voluntary efforts led by the states, territories and tribal nations to prevent vulnerable wildlife from becoming endangered.

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented biodiversity crisis. RAWA is strong commitment to using innovative, state-based management to safeguard our nation’s environmental heritage for current and future generations,” said Dingell. “Enhancing and investing in our nation’s conservation efforts ensure the long-term health of fish and wildlife throughout the country.”

"The Recovering America’s Wildlife is the single most exciting public policy development in the conservation space in decades,” said Fortenberry. “Thank you to my colleagues Debbie Dingell and Jamie Raskin for joining me in this historic and important effort to protect ecosystems, enhance community, and support recreation. It’s a winner!"

“America’s wildlife is in crisis — with more than one-third of all fish, wildlife, and plant species at heightened risk of extinction in the decades ahead — and in desperate need of on-the-ground restoration efforts. Thankfully, the House of Representatives is showing the country how strategic investments in natural infrastructure can recover wildlife, boost community resilience, and put Americans back to work. The National Wildlife Federation is grateful to our friends Rep. Dingell and Rep. Fortenberry for their tireless leadership and successful effort to include the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act in the natural infrastructure section of the Moving Forward Act,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. 

“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds Representative Dingell for her steadfast leadership to advance the historic Recovering America’s Wildlife Act out of the House,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “As the Vice-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, we are grateful for her leadership and support of America’s sportsmen and women.”

“We thank the members of the House for adopting this bipartisan amendment to H.R. 2 led by Reps. Dingell and Fortenberry, which includes the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act,” said Secretary Kelly Hepler of South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “Restoring fish, wildlife, and their habitats is an effective way to restore critical natural infrastructure, create resilient habitats and communities, create jobs, and is an issue of national importance with no political boundaries.  Americans love their fish, wildlife, and outdoor spaces, and they need them now more than ever.  This provision will elevate our nation’s natural resource treasures for current and future generations in rural and urban communities alike.”

“Including the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act as part of this infrastructure package is a great example of how we can rebuild better by protecting wildlife like Black Tern, while investing in things like highways, bridges, and schools,” said Michelle Parker, Vice President and Executive Director, Audubon Great Lakes. “This legislation will provide consistent, reliable funding to states so that they can restore and protect the vital habitat birds and other wildlife need. It will also bring much needed resources to our state and local economies.”

The text of RAWA is available here. Fact sheets from the National Wildlife Federation is available here, and from Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife here. In October, the Natural Resources Committee held a legislative hearing on RAWA, and in December the committee passed the legislation.

Dingell and Fortenberry first introduced the bill in 2017 based on a recommendation from a panel of conservation and business leaders. 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 creating a $1.3 billion dedicated funding stream 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.

Built on the premise that the best way to save America’s wildlife is through collaborative, proactive, on-the ground conversation, RAWA would help recover 12,000 species considered in need, including more than 1,600 species listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

About the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act:

•        The bill will fund conservation efforts for more than 12,000 species of wildlife and plants in need of assistance by providing $1.397 billion in dedicated annual funding for proactive, on-the-ground efforts in every state and territory. 

•        The bill will hasten the recovery of 1,600 U.S. species already listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

•        Wildlife recovery efforts will be guided by the Congressionally-mandated State Wildlife Action Plans, which identify specific strategies to restore the populations of species of greatest conservation need. 

•        Tribal Nations would receive $97.5 million annually to fund proactive wildlife conservation efforts on roughly 140 million acres of land.

•        The bill complements the highly successful Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson) and Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (Dingell-Johnson), which have facilitated the state-led recovery of a range of large mammals, game birds, and sportfish that faced potential extinction last century.

•        A 2018 report, Reversing America’s Wildlife Crisis: Securing the Future of Our Fish and Wildlife, found that one-third of America’s wildlife species are at increased risk of extinction. More than 150 U.S. species have already gone extinct and an additional 500 species have not been seen in recent decades and are regarded as possibly extinct.

•        Last session’s House bill (H.R. 4647) garnered 117 cosponsors with both parties strongly represented.

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