Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

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

June 2022 update: ‘Most Significant Wildlife Conservation Bill in Half Century’ Passes U.S. House 

 More info is available from the National Wildlife Federation here.

Funding that our wildlife needs

Washington is home to an inspiring array of wildlife species, both large and small. And restoring and conserving native animals from wolves and wolverines to fishers and mountain caribou is at the core of Conservation Northwest’s mission.

Sadly, too many of our state’s species, 268 according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan, need conservation intervention to keep them from becoming critically imperiled or to reach recovery. Like many others across the nation, our state is woefully underfunded to accomplish all of the work that needs to be done.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would help Washington state efforts to recover wildlife like fishers. Photo: Paul Bannick

There is however good news. Congress has reintroduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), to substantially increase funding to states to reverse the decline of our wildlife heritage.

While “game” wildlife species typically have permanent funding sources to support their management, the rest of the nation’s biodiversity is chronically underfunded. This is particularly true of programs to recover animal species before they are listed as Threatened or Endangered, when expensive federal recovery measures kick in.

Under the latest legislation’s allocation formula, $21 million would go to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to restore key ecosystems and species (see a state by state breakdown here).

“This is money well invested,” says Paula Swedeen, Ph.D., Conservation Northwest’s Policy Director. “It is vastly more efficient to conserve and restore wildlife before they decline to such low levels that they need federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.”

The additional good news is that when targeted programs are put on the ground, species declines can be reversed. In 2018, our partners at the National Wildlife Federation recently released a comprehensive review of both our national wildlife crisis and the science documenting the effectiveness of real, practical solutions. Our work reintroducing fishers and supporting the natural recolonization of wolves and wolverines provide inspiring examples in our own backyards.

While it’s easy to get depressed by the gloom and doom that often exists around the environment today, we actually have proven means to ensure our natural heritage stays intact for future generations. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would enable more of those successes.

Sharp-tailed grouse are urgently in need of state recovery efforts. Photo: HStiver

“There is so much more that new funding would help us do in collaboration with our state and federal agency partners,” says Swedeen. “In Washington, restoring shrub-steppe habitat for sharp-tail grouse and pygmy rabbits, continuing fisher reintroduction in the North Cascades and augmenting struggling lynx populations in the Kettle Range, and restoring large tree forest habitats for flammulated owls, Pacific marten and Townsend big-eared bats, to name a few.”

Helping pass comprehensive and permanent funding for non-game wildlife species is a high priority for Conservation Northwest.

News on the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act


More details on the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act are available from the National Wildlife Federation and THE WILDLIFE SOCIETY.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would proactively support greater sage grouse and other at-risk species by funding State Wildlife Action Plans. Photo: Wyoming Public Media