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Dingell’s Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Advances to House Floor

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) applauded the passage of her Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) in the House Natural Resources Committee. The bipartisan conservation bill, which Dingell leads with Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), 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 largest, most significant investment in wildlife and habitat conservation in a generation, and it has the broad support of conservation and sportsmen’s leaders. The bill would dedicate nearly $1.4 billion in support to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program for proactive 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 and we need action now. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a landmark change in the way we fund fish and wildlife conservation. Without action, the list of federally threatened and endangered species will grow from nearly 1,600 species today to thousands more in the future,” said Dingell. “RAWA represents a strong commitment to addressing this crisis using innovative, on-the-ground collaboration that will protect our nation’s environmental heritage for years to come. Grateful to advance this bill alongside my partner in this effort Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, Chairman Grijalva, and the broad, bipartisan coalition that has fought for this legislation’s purpose.”

“The single most exciting fish and wildlife protection initiative in decades, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) is a bold, collaborative upstream initiative that promotes continuity of habit while avoiding the costly, invasive downstream emergency room procedures of the Endangered Species Act. It’s why we have a diverse group of persons from across the political landscape––hunters, hikers, anglers, birders––aligned so beautifully around it. Today’s passage out of committee is a critical step in RAWA’s long journey into law,” said Fortenberry.

“Protecting imperiled species is not optional if we want our world to stay a livable place,” said Chairman Grijalva. “We face an unprecedented biodiversity crisis. Roughly one-third of America’s wildlife species are at an increased risk of extinction. Bird and fish populations throughout our country are collapsing. Investing $1.4 billion now to support wildlife and habitats conservation programs would be the largest and most historic push in a generation. For all this, I thank Rep. Dingell for her leadership at such a critical time for our country and our planet.”

“Right now, more than one-third of all wildlife species in the United States are at heightened risk of extinction—and demand immediate conservation action. The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the most significant piece of wildlife legislation since the Endangered Species Act passed in 1973,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Thanks to the incredible leadership of Rep. Debbie Dingell, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, Rep. Jared Huffman, Chair Raul Grijalva, and more than 150 additional bipartisan cosponsors, this historic bill is making critical bipartisan progress in the House and is showing that even in these divided times, wildlife conservation can bring all Americans together.”

“The Committee passage of Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a direct result of the tireless efforts of Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chair Congresswoman Dingell and CSC Member Congressman Fortenberry and their leadership in championing this monumental legislation,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President and CEO Jeff Crane. “This legislation is a smart, strategic effort to provide a desperately needed source of dedicated funding to address the 21st century conservation challenges facing our fish and wildlife managers today.”

“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act embodies the bipartisan spirit that has gotten the bill to this point thanks to the leadership of Congresswoman Dingell and Congressman Fortenberry as well as the Senate sponsors. This spirit of cooperation and a focus on shared goals was responsible for carrying the bill through a positive vote in committee today and we look forward to working with our congressional leaders to get this bill across the finish line this year,” said Tony Wasley, Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “The bill would help expedite the recovery of thousands of at-risk species through proactive, collaborative conservation, and the economic value of that conservation to states and to taxpayers can’t be overstated either.”

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would:

  • Fund conservation efforts for more than 12,000 species of wildlife and plants in need of assistance by providing $1.3 billion in dedicated annual funding for proactive, on-the-ground efforts in every state and territory.
  • Accelerate the recovery of 1,600 U.S. species already listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Ensure 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. 
  • Provide Tribal nations $97.5 million annually to fund proactive wildlife conservation efforts on roughly 140 million acres of land.
  • Include improvements to ensure funds are appropriately targeted to the areas of greatest need and facilitate additional investments in protecting at-risk plant species.

The text of RAWA is available here.

History of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

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.

Last Congress, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act received broad support, with over 180 bipartisan cosponsors. RAWA passed out of the Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 26-6, with a majority of both Democrats and Republicans on the Committee voting in favor of the legislation. A version of the legislation was included as a bipartisan amendment to HR 2, the Moving Forward Act.


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