From Backcountry Hunters & Anglers:
WASHINGTON – Popular, bipartisan legislation to secure funding for state and Tribal efforts to conserve at-risk species was introduced in the U.S. Senate late yesterday by Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Thom Tillis (R-NC). The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S. 1149), or RAWA, would make nearly $1.4 billion in annual funding available to state and Tribal wildlife management agencies, supporting critical conservation work, enhancing fish and wildlife habitat and boosting America’s outdoor recreation economy.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members have been vocal proponents of the need for targeted investments in species recovery. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the product of decades of hard work and dedicated collaboration a range of diverse stakeholders, including sportsmen and women, conservationists and business leaders.
BHA President and CEO Land Tawney underscored RAWA’s importance for sustaining wildlife populations – and stressed that the time for the bill’s passage had arrived.
“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will be a vital tool for our state and tribal wildlife managers, providing critical funding to keep common species common…and keeping other species out of the emergency room,” said Tawney. “It’s a valuable investment, and it’s the right thing to do for our diverse ecosystems all across North America.”
In the 117th Congress, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) led the effort to advance RAWA in the House of Representatives with 152 Democratic cosponsors and 42 Republican cosponsors. On June 14, 2022, RAWA was passed on the House floor with a bipartisan vote of 231-190. RAWA was reported by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee with bipartisan vote of 15-5 on April 7, 2022. It was included in negotiations until the last minute for the must-pass Omnibus Appropriations bill last December.
In the 118th Congress, lawmakers continue to work on a pay-for source to offset the cost of the legislation, a critical hurdle to its receiving a final vote. Discussions regarding a House companion are also ongoing but include conversations with Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR).
Tawney stated, “Quite frankly, we should have got this done back in 2022. Together we were able to achieve RAWA’s passage through the House, in bipartisan fashion, and we had the votes to do the same thing in the Senate. It didn’t happen then, but now it’s back – and we are calling on leadership to make this legislation a priority in 2023. Listen to the American people!”
State wildlife agencies have demonstrated the ability to successfully restore habitat for multiple game species, including tule elk in California, harlequin ducks in Montana, northern pintails in Kansas and many others. While not all at-risk species are game species, they share the same habitat with critical game animals like mallards, mule deer, pronghorn and wild trout. Improving habitat for one species benefits all of them, including wild game.
The bill’s introduction in the 118th Congress resulted from hard work by a broad coalition of stakeholders, the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife. Comprised of outdoor industry leaders, state and Tribal fish and wildlife agency officials, conservation groups, business interests, and hunters and anglers, the coalition is committed to achieving comprehensive conservation funding legislation in the United States.
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