Legislation that would dramatically alter the capacity of state fish and wildlife agencies to conserve and monitor at-risk species has been reintroduced to the US House of Representatives.
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 4647) was reintroduced to the chamber this week by Representative Dingell (D-MI) and Representative Fortenberry (R-NE) The bill would amend the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to make additional funds available for the management and conservation of fish and wildlife species determined by states to be at risk or in need of additional monitoring efforts.
These additional funds would come from a combination of offshore energy and onshore mineral extraction royalties to create a dedicated fund of 1.3 billion dollars annually. Priority projects would be determined by states by consulting their State Wildlife Action Plan, a document updated by each state every 10 years which identifies at-risk species, known as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), as well as the goals and objectives for monitoring and recovery.
State Wildlife Action Plans are currently required for the current SGCN funding mechanism, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program. Funded at about $60 million annually, this chronically underfunded program has not met the funding needs of state agencies to keep species from needing more extreme measures down the road, such as Endangered Species Act listing.
The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, tasked with imagining a new and effective mechanism of conservation funding, first proposed this funding mechanism in their March 2016 Final Report and Recommendations. This panel is comprised of 26 national businesses and conservation leaders from a variety of different organizations and industries including outdoor recreation retail and manufacturing, energy and automotive industries, private landowners, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups, and state fish and wildlife agencies.
The Wildlife Society supports this legislation as a positive development in the effort to support wildlife professionals and science-based conservation and management of our wildlife resources.