Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Introduced in the U.S. Congress
DEEP and Conservation Partners in Connecticut Support this Effort to Secure Funding to Address Our Nation’s Wildlife Crisis
(HARTFORD, CT) – The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and our Conservation Partners applaud the introduction of the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) in the U.S. Congress yesterday.
The proposed bill will dedicate $1.3 billion annually to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement their science-based wildlife action plans and an additional $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers to conserve fish and wildlife on tribal lands and waters. Connecticut’s annual apportionment would be an estimated $12 million.
This sustained revenue stream will allow state fish and wildlife agencies to implement proactive solutions to conserve those species in greatest need and prevent wildlife from becoming threatened or endangered without increasing taxes. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) should be commended for their leadership on introducing this bipartisan bill to tackle the wildlife crisis in our nation.
An unprecedented alliance of business, academic, tribal and conservation leaders have united to provide a solution to one of America’s greatest threats—the decline of our fish and wildlife and their natural habitats. Scientists estimate that one-third of wildlife species in the United States are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without much needed funding for their proactive conservation, this includes 567 species of greatest conservation need here in Connecticut. Healthy, sustainable fish and wildlife populations drive many sectors of our economy, especially the $788 billion outdoor recreation industry, which added $3.7 billion to Connecticut’s GDP in 2019 and supported 49,000 jobs.
The Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife is a coalition whose origins are tied to the strong partnership and recommendations created by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources. Panel members represent the outdoor recreation, retail, and manufacturing sectors, the energy and automotive industries, private landowners, educational institutions, sportsmen and women and other conservation groups, and state, tribal, and federal fish and wildlife agencies. The Alliance has expanded to include numerous conservation partners nationwide and recently sent a letter to the U.S. House encouraging support for the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act signed by over 350 partner organizations and businesses.
“Each of us, as citizens of this country, has the responsibility to ensure diverse fish and wildlife resources are managed for future generations. Fish and wildlife need healthy habitats to thrive—enhancing our lives and providing many other benefits,” stated Johnny Morris, Blue Ribbon Panel co-chair, noted conservationist, and founder/CEO of Bass Pro Shops/Cabelas. “State fish and wildlife agencies have a solid track record of accomplishing remarkable recovery and restoration successes since the early 1900s. However, enhanced funding is now needed to address today’s fish and wildlife habitat management challenges.”
“One of Connecticut’s greatest assets and challenges from a wildlife perspective is that we are relatively small and densely populated. To manage a variety of habitats to sustain both threatened and common wildlife populations, DEEP has developed excellent plans for our state,” said Eric Hammerling, Executive Director, Connecticut Forest and Park Association and Connecticut’s National Wildlife Federation Affiliate. “Passage of Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is critical to help ensure these important plans can be effectively implemented both today and for the future.”
Proactive conservation is good for wildlife, good for taxpayers, good for business, and good for our communities. By directing funds to State Wildlife Action Plans through the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, America will be fueling implementation-ready projects that immediately create jobs in a sector with one of the highest returns on investment and supporting continued world class outdoor recreation opportunities.
“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) is probably the most significant piece of federal legislation for wildlife in Connecticut introduced during the current session of the United States Congress,” said Robert LaFrance, Director of Policy for Audubon Connecticut. “The funding that this bill will provide to Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will make a real difference for Connecticut’s wildlife species of greatest conservation need; it will also support programs like Audubon’s Wildlife Guards that develop young conservation leaders from urban communities.”
“Connecticut has an amazing array of fish and wildlife species and unique natural habitats,” noted Jenny Dickson, Director of DEEP’s Wildlife Division. “Protection of our natural heritage requires a proactive approach that can only be accomplished with the kind of dedicated resources provided by the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. Our state Wildlife Action Plan provides a blueprint for protecting species of greatest conservation need. Now, we need to work together to ensure they remain part of our natural world—providing physical health, mental health, and economic benefits for future generations.”
“The Connecticut Audubon Society is thrilled about the introduction of The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. Connecticut's and America’s birds and other wildlife need proper stewardship to maintain healthy populations,” said Patrick Comins, executive director of the Connecticut Audubon Society. “Passage of the act will bring about a new 'golden age' for wildlife conservation by giving state wildlife agencies across the country, including Connecticut, the resources needed to implement their state Wildlife Action Plans and reverse the population declines facing so many of our native wildlife species."
Not since enactment of the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts, that provided critical funding for fish and wildlife on the brink of extinction, have we had an opportunity to pass legislation of such importance to protecting what is every American’s birthright—our great natural heritage. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the most important conservation legislation in a generation.
“This nation is blessed with a diverse array of fish and wildlife, many of which are biologically and culturally important to Tribes,” said Elveda Martinez, President of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society. “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would support tribal efforts to protect these species and our cultural ties to them. With the support of this legislation, the Tribes stand ready to ensure that wildlife endures for future generations of Native Americans, and all Americans.”
Every American and every Connecticut resident benefits when we have healthy and accessible fish and wildlife. It is time to invest proactively in conservation rather than reacting to emergencies that cost taxpayers more than preventive measures like this one. Stay tuned to the DEEP website to follow progress of the Recovering America’ Wildlife Act, as well as learn more about the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife and other related topics: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Wildlife/Learn-About-Wildlife/The-Alliance-for-Fish-and-Wildlife. Follow us on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/CTFishandWildlife.
Photo courtesy of Paul J. Fusco/CT DEEP-Wildlife
The eastern bluebird is an example of how the proactive conservation provided by the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act can help prevent species from needing to be state or federally listed.
Photo courtesy of Paul J. Fusco/CT DEEP-Wildlife
The osprey is an example of how the cooperative conservation made possible by the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act can help reverse declining populations and ensure that some of our most iconic species are here for future generations to enjoy.