New bill would galvanize wildlife conservation, help prevent extinctions in Washington state and across the nation
Conservation Northwest / Jul 20, 2021 / Congress, News Releases, Restoring Wildlife
With $21 million in funding for Washington state annually, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will provide a much-needed infusion of resources to protect our precious natural heritage.
SEATTLE — New bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. House and Senate will fund locally-led efforts to help prevent extinctions and help wildlife recover and thrive nationwide.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S.2372, H.R.2773) will send approximately $21 million to Washington state each year, which the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will use to help the 268 species of concern identified under Washington’s State Wildlife Action Plan, including wolverines, steelhead trout, bighorn sheep and pygmy rabbits.
“As climate change and human development accelerate, we’re facing a growing crisis for wildlife and habitat, in the Pacific Northwest and across the country,” said Chase Gunnell, Conservation Northwest spokesman. “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a commonsense, bipartisan bill that will get ahead of the problem by stepping in to help at-risk species—before they require the ‘emergency room’ intervention of the Endangered Species Act—through collaborative recovery efforts in coordination with local leaders, tribes and communities,” said Gunnell. “This act will create jobs restoring wildlife species and habitats vital to the Evergreen State’s quality of life.”
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act was just introduced in the Senate by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) introduced a similar version of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act in the House in April.
“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will provide a much-needed infusion of resources to protect Washington’s precious natural heritage,” said Paula Swedeen, Ph.D., Conservation Northwest’s Policy Director. “The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has identified 268 species of greatest conservation need and has a plan to help them survive and thrive. However, at present they only have funds to accomplish five percent of the actions needed,” said Swedeen. “Washington’s wildlife deserve better, and now is the time to act. RAWA will provide $21 million a year to help us secure a more resilient future for all the critters that make our state a great place to live; from grizzly bears and wolverines to harlequin ducks and tiger salamanders.”
“The voluntary, cooperative nature of the projects the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would support should have broad appeal and will help create more good jobs in rural areas,” said Swedeen. “Seven of Washington state’s Members of Congress have already co-sponsored this critical legislation, and we hope other U.S. Representatives and Senators will soon join them. It’s really hard not to like this legislation, and we will be pushing for its passage this Congress.”
“The historic, bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is by far the most important piece of wildlife legislation in the past half century,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “At a time when more than one-third of wildlife species are at heightened risk of extinction, this critical legislation will help recover thousands of at-risk species through proactive, collaborative efforts in every state, territory, and Tribal nation, creating jobs while preventing extinctions. We applaud the incredible bipartisan leadership of Senator Heinrich and Senator Blunt, and their House partners Rep. Dingell and Rep. Fortenberry, who are all demonstrating once again that wildlife conservation can unite all Americans.”
Nationwide, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act dedicates $1.4 billion annually to locally-led wildlife restoration efforts, with most of the money going to wildlife agencies like the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife who will use the money to implement existing plans for at-risk wildlife. At least 15 percent of the funds will be used to help species that are already considered endangered or threatened.
Tribal Nations such as the Tulalip, Colville and Quinault tribes would also share $97.5 million annually directed to tribal natural resource departments to fund wildlife and habitat conservation efforts on the tens of millions of acres under Tribal management nationwide.
More than 1,500 businesses and organizations have already signed on in support of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.
“Keeping the Northwest wild” since 1989, Conservation Northwest is a regional non-profit organization that protects, connects and restores wildlands and wildlife from the Washington Coast to the British Columbia Rockies. Staff operate in local communities and rural areas around Washington and into southern B.C.
The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly-changing world.