WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) reintroduced an updated version of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) with House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), Rep. French Hill (R-AR), Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), and Rep. Jenniffer González Colón (R-PR). This bipartisan legislation, which has the support of conservation and sportsmen’s leaders, 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. 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.
“As we celebrate Earth Day and continue our work to combat the biodiversity crisis, bold solutions are needed to safeguard our nation’s wildlife from further decline,” said Rep. Dingell. “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act represents a strong commitment to addressing the current biodiversity crisis using innovative, on-the-ground collaboration that will protect our nation’s environmental heritage for years to come.”
“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is smart upstream policy to promote continuity of habitat and prevent the costly downstream emergency room procedures of the Endangered Species Act – enhancing opportunity for birders, hikers, hunters, anglers, and the burgeoning field of ecotourism,” said Rep. Fortenberry.
The text of RAWA is available here.
“Tribes are our nation’s first people and first conservationists with many fish and wildlife species having biological and cultural importance,” said Elveda Martinez, President of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society. “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is monumental legislation for Tribes to protect these species and our cultural ties to them along with promoting tribal self-governance. With the support of this legislation, the Tribes stand ready and committed to ensure that wildlife endures for all of our future generations.”
“America’s wildlife are in crisis. One-third of all species in the country currently face a heightened risk of extinction. This bill represents a bold, bipartisan vision for how we can recover wildlife and create jobs in every state across the nation,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “There is important work just waiting to be done restoring habitat, removing invasive species, stopping wildlife diseases, reducing water pollution, and mitigating the harm from climate change. This bill will put people to work today protecting our wildlife heritage for tomorrow. Representatives Dingell and Fortenberry’s steadfast leadership on this bill is a shining example of how Congress can still find common ground on conservation even in these polarized times. We’re confident the bill will be signed into law by President Biden this year.”
“Recovering America’s Wildlife Act represents an incredible opportunity to secure a much needed 21st century funding mechanism to conserve the 12,000 species identified as at-risk,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “We applaud the professional and personal commitment of Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chair Rep. Debbie Dingell and CSC Member Rep. Jeff Fortenberry to conserving fish and wildlife species and their steadfast leadership on this bipartisan legislation.”
“This nation is blessed with abundant fish and wildlife resources that provide enjoyment as well as essential services to people and communities. Our state agencies have the primary responsibility of conserving our treasured natural resources and with this dedicated funding, states and our many partners will be able to make sure our fish and wildlife are healthy for years to come,” said Sara Parker Pauley, Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “This past year has really brought into focus the value of nature, outdoor recreation, our overall health, clean air and water and our economy. We must work together now to pass this legislation so that future generations will have these same opportunities and quality of life that we enjoy.”
“With over a third of America’s fish and wildlife species at risk of extinction, there has never been a more important time for this bill,” said Lynn Scarlett, Chief External Affairs Officer, The Nature Conservancy. “The Recovering America's Wildlife Act would deliver the most significant investment in America’s wildlife in decades, putting resources where they can be most effective.”
“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act bill be an important part of how we respond to the loss of 3 billion birds in North America since 1970,” said Sarah Greenberger, senior vice president for conservation policy, National Audubon Society. “The dedicated funding provided in this bill will help state wildlife agencies proactively conserve vulnerable species, like the Golden-Winged Warbler and Black Tern. Congress has the opportunity to not only help wildlife, but also create jobs in communities across the country.”
“Thousands of species are being threatened by habitat loss, climate change, invasive species, and human development,” said Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act empowers experts to use the best available science to conserve and preserve these wildlife and fish for future generations. Hunters and anglers applaud this legislation that supports proactive conservation measures to strengthen our outdoor economy.”
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.
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.