On July 7, 2016 Representatives Young (R-Alaska) and Dingell (D-Michigan) introduced H.R. 5650, the bipartisan “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act of 2016.” It would dedicate $1.3 billion annually in existing revenue from oil and gas royalties to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program. The funds would be allocated to states to help species that have the greatest conservation need and avoid their eventual listing as threatened or endangered species. To read the Colorado State Wildlife Action Plan, go to News on this home page and click on “view all.” The plan lists the species of greates conservation need in Colorado.
This legislation was recommended by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources. The Blue Ribbon Panel included 26 business and conservation leaders. Its charge was to develop recommendations for a new funding mechanism to support state fish and wildlife conservation to ensure the sustainability of all fish and wildlife for current and future generations. CWF had participated in the fly-in meetings in March to promote the Panel’s recommendation.
Additional House Co-Sponsors, so far:
Fortenberry, Jeff (R-NE -1)
Thompson, MIke (D-CA-5)
DelBene, Suzan (D-WA-1)
Schiff, Adam (D-CA -28)
Stefanik, Elise (R-NY -21)
DeFazio, Peter (D-OR -4)
Gibson, Christopher (R – NY -19)
If passed, this legislation would be the most significant new investment in wildlife conservation in decades.
PROACTIVE EFFORTS TO PREVENT WILDLIFE FROM BECOMING ENDANGERED
- America’s wildlife are at risk. States have identified 12,000 different species in need of proactive efforts to prevent them from becoming endangered. Monarch butterflies, migratory songbirds, salamanders and turtles, and bats are among the species at-risk.
- A stitch in time. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will fund conservation efforts for wildlife at-risk before they need the emergency room measures of the Endangered Species Act.
- Real need for funding. Estimates of implementing two-thirds of each state’s Wildlife Action Plan is $1.3 billion/year. Current funding (about $70 million/year) is less than five percent of what is necessary to conserve the species most at-risk. The magnitude of the solution must match the magnitude of the problem.
GOOD FOR WILDLIFE, GOOD FOR TAXPAYERS AND GOOD FOR BUSINESS.
- An economic boost. Americans spend $144 billion dollars on wildlife-focused recreation every year. An investment in wildlife conservation will result in more outdoor opportunities for all outdoor enthusiasts.
- Cost- effective. Once wildlife reaches the point of needing ESA intervention it is harder and much more expensive to recover, and it is more challenging for business. Proactive efforts provide more regulatory certainty for businesses saving them substantial money and time.
- Benefits people and wildlife. Diverse fish and wildlife and their habitats provide important contributions like clean water and air, flood prevention, pollination, and carbon capture.
STATE BASED DECISION-MAKING
- Money to the states, not the federal government. The funds from this bill will be spent by state fish and wildlife agencies, in partnership with state-based conservation entities.
- Science, public input and accountability. The money can only be used on needs identified within the existing, congressionally mandated State Wildlife Action Plans. These plans are regularly updated to incorporate the latest science and public input, and are approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ensuring program oversight.
- Helping wildlife at risk. Depending on the needs in each state, the money could be spent on efforts such as conserving and restoring wildlife habitats, fighting invasive species, reintroducing native species, and monitoring emerging diseases.
- Connecting people with nature. States can use a portion of the funds for recreation efforts such as wildlife viewing, nature photography, and developing trails. States can also use a portion of the funds on wildlife education efforts like nature centers and school programs.
PROVEN TRACK RECORD
- A history of success. State fish and wildlife agencies have had great successes in restoring other species that were once on the brink – like bald eagles, peregrine falcons, white-tailed deer, turkey, elk, striped bass, and more. These are all examples of fish and wildlife that now have healthy and thriving numbers thanks to dedicated funding for increased conservation efforts.
- No tax increase. Half the funds ($650 million) will come from existing revenues from energy development on the outer continental shelf and the other $650 million will come from existing revenues from mineral development on federal lands. These funds currently go into the U.S. Treasury.
- No impact on LWCF. This proposal is not connected to and would not impact funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Offshore oil and gas funding from public lands and waters range from $5-12 billion a year.
- Better for hunters and anglers. Currently, 80 percent of the funding for our state wildlife agencies comes from state hunting and fishing licenses and permits as well as federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear. This funding model has worked for decades but has reached its limit. This would expand the funding source to all Americans and modernize conservation funding for the nation.
BROAD, DIVERSE SUPPORT
- Recommendations by experts. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act of 2016 implements the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources.
- CEOs and sportsmen. The Blue Ribbon Panel was made up of leaders from many diverse interests: outdoor recreation retailers and manufacturers, the energy industry, hunter and angler groups, and other conservation organizations.
- Recommendation by consensus. The Blue Ribbon Panel members determined that existing revenues from the use of our non-renewable natural resources was a pragmatic solution that would benefit the American economy while sustaining the nation’s fish and wildlife heritage.
- Teaming with Wildlife. A broad based coalition of 6,400+ conservation and businesses has worked together for years to secure and adequate funding to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered.
NWF’s press release 7/7/16: Young, Dingell Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Enhance Funding For Fish and Wildlife “A once in a generation opportunity to save thousands of at-risk wildlife species” – Collin O’Mara Washington, DC (July 7, 2016) – Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) have introduced the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 5650) calling for $1.3 billion in existing revenue from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters be dedicated to the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program to conserve a full array of fish and wildlife. “We have a once in a generation opportunity to save thousands of at-risk wildlife species by investing in proactive, collaborative conservation. By modernizing how we fund conservation of the full diversity of wildlife, we will bolster our natural resources, strengthen our outdoor recreation economy, reduce regulatory uncertainty, improve public health, and bolster community resilience,” said Collin O’Mara, president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation. “We thank Congressman Young and Congresswoman Dingell for their exceptional leadership on the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.” The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources<http://www.fishwildlife.org/index.php?section=blueribbonpanel>, comprised of national business and conservation leaders, convened in 2015 to recommend a new mechanism to sustainably fund fish and wildlife conservation. In March 2016, the Panel recommended<http://www.fishwildlife.org/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report2.pdf> that a $1.3 billion trust fund be created using existing fees from energy and mineral development on federal lands and water to support implementation of State Wildlife Action Plans in every state, territory and the District of Columbia. “As a strong supporter of conservation and sportsmen alike, I’m proud to take the lead on an important discussion regarding fish and wildlife conservation across the country,” said Congressman Don Young. “While we’ve seen many great successes in management and conservation projects in the past, this legislation takes a unique approach to allow states to make responsible management decisions at home. As someone who proudly supports the management of fish and game for all Americans – for sportsmen, subsistence purposes, and for future generations – I believe this legislation is a responsible first step in developing a path forward.” “It has been proven over the decades that incredible gains in species conservation have been made with dedicated sources of funding,” Rep. Dingell said. “The Restoring America’s Wildlife Act builds off the successes of previous efforts including Pittman-Robertson, Dingell-Johnson, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund by giving state fish and wildlife agencies additional resources they need to proactively manage at-risk wildlife species. I am proud to introduce this legislation with my Republican colleague from Alaska, Mr. Young. We both love the outdoors and know we must work hard to protect our natural resources. To some we may seem the odd couple but together we believe we can get something done that will help bring conservation into the 21st Century and complement the other successful programs that are currently in place.” “America’s hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and boaters have been the primary funders of state-based conservation efforts to this day,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “This recommendation simply uses funding for conservation from other sectors that use our natural resources.” “Hunters, anglers, recreational shooters and motorized boaters, through fees and licenses, have been the backbone of funding the conservation of America’s fish and wildlife. Over the years these original conservationists have greatly enhanced the State’s ability to perform science-based management of fish and wildlife species throughout the country,” said Dave Chanda, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Today we find ourselves at a critical crossroad and impending fish and wildlife crisis that could alter our children and grandchildren’s opportunities to enjoy these resources. If we want to secure the future of all of America’s fish and wildlife resources, a fundamental enhancement in how we finance conservation is essential. We believe the right path is to begin investing now in a 21st century vision for fish and wildlife.”